Hundreds of law enforcement officers were recently treated to an all-you-can-eat steak and pulled pork appreciation meal courtesy of the Assemblies of God Chaplaincy Department, U.S. Missions, Central Assembly of God (Springfield, Missouri) and the Southern Missouri District.
The invitation for the Law Enforcement Appreciation “Steak Out” was sent to all Springfield- area law enforcement officers, including Springfield Police Department, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. Marshals, FBI, DEA, and Secret Service.
The event was held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 25, with a steady stream of officers entering the facility throughout the afternoon.
“We wanted to show the love of Christ to these public servants,” Cordero said. “Jesus respected and took compassion on the Roman centurion, so we, His representatives, need to do the same.”
“We really appreciate this,” said Major Kirk Manlove, a 23-year veteran of the Springfield Police department and commander of the Investigation and Support Services Bureau. “It really gives our officers a break, especially doing it [the meal] for a really long time and covering several shifts.”
In addition to the meats grilled by a Light for the Lost team, multiple sides and desserts were provided, with much of the food being donated or discounted to help show solidarity in supporting local law enforcement.
As officers entered Central Assembly, which hosted the meal in its multipurpose hall, they were greeted, presented a special law enforcement appreciation coin, and given the opportunity to receive a free Law Enforcement Bible. Door prizes were also awarded from O’Reilly Automotive and the AG Credit Union throughout the afternoon.
State Highway Patrol Officer Sally Talk, a 29-year veteran whose duty it is to respond to fatality accidents that take place in more than 20 Missouri counties, enjoyed the event, even expressing her surprise at how good everything tasted.
“It’s always nice to know your community supports law enforcement,” she said. “You don’t always know that.”
Talk shared a few observations that helped position the challenges of the job. “We’re not always dealing with people in their best condition,” she said. “When most people have contact with law enforcement, it a stressful situation for them, whether it’s having a flat tire, following an accident, or being pulled over.”
Following the Joplin tornado in 2011, Talk said she spent 12 consecutive hours directing traffic, with many people calling out their thanks and appreciation for her effort during that time, which had a great impact on her. Then she added, reflectively, “You know, it shouldn’t take a big disaster for someone to recognize what you’re doing.”
Corp. Ben Haines, 37, a 13-year veteran of the Springfield Police Department, also expressed his appreciation for the meal as well as the support the community shows for law enforcement. He added more insight into an officer’s life, explaining that sometimes people forget that officers are people, just like them.
“We are not super-human; we put our pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else,” Haines said. “We have families at home — wives and kids — and interests outside of our careers.”
Officer Jonna Welch, 24, who has been serving as a Springfield Police Officer for the past three years, says it’s events like this meal that help her remember she’s appreciated.
“The vast majority in Springfield support law enforcement,” she said, “but we’re typically dealing with that 2 percent that don’t, over and over again. Sometimes dealing with that can become daunting, so this really helps remind me and other officers that we have support.”
Chaplain Scott McChrystal, U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries military representative, stated, “I’ve always suspected that most people in Springfield overwhelmingly approve the great job police do, but it’s important to have events like this to give visible proof of peoples’ support for them.”
Cordero believes that the mission to help officers feel appreciated and loved was accomplished. He also hopes that news of the effort will inspire other churches and districts to do something similar for their law enforcement personnel.
However, perhaps nothing signifies the officers’ appreciation more than a moment Linda Ragain, the office manager for Chaplaincy Ministries who organized the event, experienced. “An officer came up and said how much he appreciated all we had done,” Ragain recalled. “Then he asked if he could give me a hug, and he did — that just really said it all.”
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