Eugene Cho

Garrett Swasey: Christ Follower, Son, Husband, Father, Pastor, and Police Officer. We see you. We honor you.

PhotoGrid_1448697030787* Appreciate the comments and especially the critique via social email and email. Certainly shows my personal blind spots and privilege and my need to keep learning from others. Much to learn.

It’s just utterly tragic. I’m just starting to read the horrendous news of the shootings at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Information is still being gathered for the shooter, his motivations, and the victims.

One of the killed was a first responder – Officer Garrett Swasey, a six year veteran of the campus police force of Univ. of Colorado (Colorado Springs). It wasn’t even his responsibility as a campus police officer to respond to this incident but he chose to go. If this isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is…

Let’s be honest: There’s been so much horrible news of police brutality throughout our country…that only reveal a glimpse of the reality of police abusing their power and authority including and especially with their engagement with Black Americans. As some of you may know, I’ve been a vocal supporter of racial injustice issues (here, here, here, here, here, and here).  Now, please hear me: The power dynamics (abuse of power) can not and should not be ignored, denied, or avoided. As we go about this urgent work of racial justice and fighting against police brutality, if one is not wise and discerning, one can make the error of making generalizations about anyone and everyone associated with the police. This is certainly my confession.

Couple of my friends who are in the police force have shared this very new reality and tension:

“Eugene, folks don’t see us as human beings any more. They just see the uniform and thus, public enemy #1.”

This is important: To support one is not to reject the other. These two things should not be viewed as competing, contradictory, or antithetical. In other words, I’m trying to articulate – not very well – that one can and must challenge and protest against systemic injustice and still value the individuals that work with integrity within such difficult, unjust systems. These are indeed challenging and complex times….ones that require much prayer, courage, tenacity, and humility.

One easier-said-than-done way we can seek to remedy and fight against such generalizations is to choose to “see” each person. In other words, the intentionality behind the humanity of each person. This is clearly complex in the face of enormous structural and systemic issues and yet, this is so critical for us as Christians because we believe that each person is created in the Imago Dei – the image of God.

Clearly, I did not personally know Office Garrett. Never knew him. Never heard of him. And only now starting to soak in various narratives about his life. He was only 44 – one year younger than me. I’m sure like all of us, he had his flaws and failures but in reading about his story, this I know: I wish I had known him.

Penny, a friend just recently shared this with me on this very blog:

Officer Swasey served our little neighborhood and in fact came to our home in response to a call we made. He was also the personal pastor of what of our good friends. He could have chosen to stay on campus yesterday – leaving the CSPD officers and the El Paso County Police to handle the situation, but he instead went to protect and defend.

Garrett wasn’t just a “good” police officer. In other words, he was more than his uniform but even his uniform had purpose that was informed by his character and faith. He was also the husband to his wife, Rachel, and father to their two children: Elijah and Faith. All that knew him speaks deeply of his courage and faith in Christ. In fact, he we was also a co-pastor of a local church in Colorado Springs called Hope Chapel.

“Here’s a guy who worked full time as a police officer, and then gave a great amount of time to his local church and didn’t get a dime for it,” said Scott Dontanville, a co-pastor who knew Officer Swasey for 15 years. “He did it because it was the thing that he felt he needed to do.” [source]

Garrett Swasey: Christ Follower, Son, Husband, Father, Pastor, and Police Officer.

I never had the privilege of meeting you but…We see you. We honor you. We lift your wife, kids, family, church, and all those that are grieving your passing in heart and prayers. It is an honor to call you a brother-in-Christ and fellow co-laborer of the Gospel. Thank you for your courage and faith. As many mourn and grieve, may their tears turn to a growing peace – knowing that you are united and at peace with our God: Father, Savior, and Spirit.

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3 Responses

  1. Penny says:

    Officer Swasey served our little neighborhood and in fact came to our home in response to a call we made. He was also the personal pastor of what of our good friends. He could have chosen to stay on campus yesterday – leaving the CSPD officers and the El Paso County Police to handle the situation, but he instead went to protect and defend. Thank you for the post honoring him.

  2. Yea–several months ago I was talking to a couple black officers in my neighborhood (99% black) about the manner in which they walk our neighborhood (they will only walk it in groups). They are out of their squad cars because the Chief is fully invested in community oriented policing (which I fully support). My neighborhood is VERY supportive of the police and cooperate. I was taken back by the depth of anxiety they have about the threats they face.

    Neither the young officers nor the young men in community really have a historical sense of how we got to this point.

    I believe Faith community needs to affirm and support three types of groups: Public protest for reform; Political leaders for reform; and Police officers/leaders for reform. And we need to try to support them in unison–in terms that does not pit the groups against each other. e.g. Reducing the quantity and level of physical police-citizen confrontations is in the interest of all.

    Faith leaders need to continue to speak because it is the police we send after the society, communities and individuals have run off the cliff. We send them with a gun and badge to arrest our way out of all we have sowed.

  3. Danamarie Kelley says:

    Dearest Garrett Swasey Family,
    My prayers and loving thoughts are with you in these most difficult hours. I pray you will all be surrounded by loving family and friends to uplift, comfort and be with you. While I do not know any of you personally, I am humbled by your husband’s courageous actions and willingness to stand up for his Lord and Savior. May you “feel his presence” in the stark absence and rise to find comfort knowing he will always be in your hearts and watching over you from above.
    May God comfort and bless each of you.

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One Day’s Wages

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
May we keep working 
on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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