Why I Serve: Charles Gilliland of DFW Airport Police
"We need God in law enforcement."
“Why I Serve” is an exclusive series from The Stream where law enforcement officers from all races and stripes and every corner of the nation sharing in their own words why they walk the Thin Blue Line. Hearing their voices today seems especially timely as all across the land organized (and paid) bands of protesters threaten the peace of our cities in the wake of the recent election, and police are increasingly targeted for ambush and acts of violence.
Our third stop is in Dallas, Texas, where we are honored to meet Charles W. Gilliland of the DFW Airport Police.
My name is Charles W. Gilliland, I have been a police officer for 27 years. I am proud to be a Christian police officer. Unfortunately it was not always that way.
I grew up in a Christian home with strong Christian influences. I knew at an early age God had placed a calling on my life. I was not sure what the calling would be, but I wanted to serve God with my life. Growing up I searched out where God wanted me to serve. At some point I decided that God must want me to be a youth pastor. By the time I graduated high school and entered college I began a more selfish pursuit of fun and indulgence. I avoided my calling to a life of ministry.
I started my career in law enforcement in 1990 with the Dallas Police Department. I spent the next two years building an incredible foundation of training and experience, but also of pride, arrogance and ego. From DPD I moved to DFW Airport Police. I stayed in touch with God like some people stay in touch with distant relatives. I would call on Him only when I needed something or found myself in trouble.
God likes to use the least of these to glorify Himself. I was blessed to be one of the least of these.
In August 2008 I had an encounter with God that changed my life. He had called me back to a life that honored Him. God immediately put me in the path of a Fort Worth Police officer, David Walters, who turned me onto the Fellowship of Christian Peace Officers (FCPO). As I began rededicating my life to live for Christ, my calling came roaring back. My wife and I went on mission trips to China and Africa to see where God wanted us to serve. I was still not sure where He wanted me.
On our trip to Gaborone Botswana I visited the main police station. I took a case of Bibles to give to the officers. At first I was in the break area talking and witnessing to the officers. I was surprised when I was asked to speak to the supervisors who were in a different part of the station. After spending time with them I was taken to the police chief’s office. We prayed with the chief and shared Christ with anyone willing to listen. I was on a spiritual high like I had not experienced since giving my life to Christ.
On the flight home I had an epiphany. My calling was to spend my life ministering to the men and women of law enforcement. When I got home several officers and I started an FCPO chapter. We quickly grew to the point where we had one third of our department involved.
God further confirmed His calling in my life when I was asked to join the National Board of Directors for the FCPO. I gladly accepted and was blessed to be an integral part of the national ministry. In my second year, God called to begin writing law enforcement devotionals. This may not sound like a big deal but I have struggled with dyslexia all my life. Writing was never my strong suit. God likes to use the least of these to glorify Himself. I was blessed to be one of the least of these.
I’m coming to the end of my law enforcement career but I know His calling on my life will continue on. We need God in law enforcement. We need men and women who can meet people in their darkest, most desperate times and share hope and love with them. Our society needs law enforcement officers who can bring the light of Christ into the darkest corners of our society. Please pray that God will send workers into the fields — they are ripe for the harvest.