The Ukrainian Academy of Chaplains for Law Enforcement Agencies commenced their 5th annual 9-month course in October 2023. When the Academy founder Yaroslav Malko shared with me that I'd be presenting to 80 students on Zoom, I was astounded. Eighty would be considered a high number of participants during peaceful times; however, as we know Ukraine continues to be under siege by Russia, so to hear that 80 women and men are engaged in studies to become police chaplains during wartime is astounding. It is a testimony to the effectiveness of Yaroslav Malko's and Pavlo Tsarevsky's efforts in promoting the need of faith filled men and women to care for the emotional and spiritual needs of police officers in Ukraine. These future police chaplains are setting aside their fears and concerns of self-preservation to prepare their minds and hearts to serve the police officers in their respective communities. Thus, when I was approached to present a topic for a couple of hours on October 26th, I was thrilled.
This was the 5th year in a row that I had the privilege of presenting and it blessed me beyond measure to see their faces, sense their enthusiasm, and scroll through screen after screen of women and men of different generations. Once again, Interpreter Alex did a fantastic job of staying with me and translating my English dialogue to Russian. At the conclusion of my prepared materials, many questions were posed by the students. There were the standard questions involving confidentiality and alcohol addiction; however, one question was particularly precious. I was asked to share a testimony of a time I had led a police officer to the Lord. The academy students have heard and know that a police chaplain's role is not to proselytize police officers. Police chaplains are to be present to provide emotional and spiritual care to police and to encourage and support them through the trauma they encounter each day. However, when a police officer asks questions regarding a chaplain's faith, the door is open to share for as long as the officer desires. In response to the student's question, I presented generalized details regarding an opportunity I had to share my faith beliefs with a peer during the final months of his journey on Earth. This continues to be a cherished memory because of my peer's response to what I shared. What I shared brought hope and peace and comfort to my peer during his final months. Personally, it led to forming a connection with his family that resulted in the honor of officiating the celebration of his life for his family, friends and his law enforcement peers.
Thank you, Yaroslav, for the invitation to share with this new group of future police chaplains. I pray for God's impartation of wisdom to these women and men throughout the months of training at the Academy, and for His hand of protection upon them for years to come as they fulfill God's call on their life: "You were born for such a time as this" Esther 4:14.
BPS Chaplain/Constable Bruce Ewanyshyn
ICPC Director of Region 1