The Chaplain's Notebook


During my most recent church mission to the Philippines, from August 29 to November 8, I was reminded of Matthew 22:37 where Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” I also could not help but think upon “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

We started Casita Pagasa Home for Children, a small orphanage in Santa Maria, Bulacan, about seven years ago. Casita Pagasa means “house of hope” and it was registered at the local Securities and Exchange Commission and licensed by the Philippine Department of Social Welfare Development (DSWD). In the Philippines, if you adopt abandoned children wandering on the street, you are doing it on your own and acting privately. If you register a nonprofit orphanage as we did, then you have to go through a lengthy process of registration, background checks, submission of various documents and regular inspections.

When I arrived in the Philippines on this last trip, my heart sank after learning the circumstances of four siblings who were recently added to our orphanage and whose ages ranged from 12 years old to younger. The eldest daughter was raped by her own father, who is now in jail. Their mother is a laundry woman who could not take care of her children and surrendered all of them to DSWD. Although our monthly donated operational budget would be significantly affected by taking these siblings, there was no way we could say no and not take them into our care. Again the verse, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Accepting them strengthens our desire to continue serving God.

Serving is Godly. Psalm 82:3: “Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.” These scriptures not only address our desire to serve the orphanage, but also describe what our men and women in uniform are already doing. Serving those in need is in the hearts of our sheriff deputies. Their energy and drive to serve and be at the location of the incident where they can be of greatest help is inspiring.

As stated in the core values of our Department, “With integrity, compassion and courage, we serve our communities, protecting life and property, being diligent and professional in our acts and deeds, holding ourselves and each other accountable for our actions at all times, while respecting the dignity and rights of all.” I remember a fellow pastor sharing about the virtue of a restaurant waiter giving the best service to his customer every time. He welcomes them with a smile and seats them at the best table. He asks questions like, “Do you want my recommendation in choosing the right food?” or “Can I give you more water?” or “Can I get you anything else?” or “Are you happy with your order?” The waiter is going out of his way to make the customer happy and satisfied through his service. The well-served customer is more than eager to tip him appropriately to show his appreciation of the way he is treated.

Our deputies serve the local community without any expectation of gratuity. They serve with dedication as professionals who work in partnership with the communities; they serve to ensure the highest possible quality of life. Sometimes in doing this, they pay the ultimate price. They are honored not by their title and rank, but by how well they served. As Department chaplains, we pray 24/7 for God’s shield of protection around our law enforcement personnel as they serve our County. We unceasingly pray that no harm will be upon them as they go out and serve. The commitment in serving the public is like serving God.

God did not create us and save us so that He can serve us. He created and saved us so that we may serve Him. Before we sleep at night we ask God, “Did I serve you well today? Did my words and actions today please you? Please let me know how I can improve serving you.” When we wake up in the morning, we ask God, “How can I serve you better today? Please help me improve on how I can please you more,” and other questions to make it clear that it is all about Him and not about us. “Can I have more of you and less of me?” John 3:30 states, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” At the end, our reward may not be received during our temporary journey here on earth. The biggest gratuity will come when we are called home and account for how well we serve God.

How can I contact a chaplain? Chaplains are available at their unit of assignment, or by calling the Psychological Services Bureau at (213) 738-3500.