JONESBORO, Ark. – Ten years ago, Central Baptist Church in Jonesboro began feeding 30-35 local police officers as part of an appreciation luncheon. Now, each year they hold a small meal for each shift so all local police departments in Jonesboro are honored. This year’s meal brought in 330 officers from local area departments and from the state police. Throughout the day, they feed each shift, starting in the early morning, and continuing until late at night.
This year the Women’s Ministry at Central Baptist wanted to honor the wives who stand behind the officers of northeast Arkansas. There are unique stresses on the family of law enforcement officers even in the best of times. Undoubtedly, these issues are extremely tense during these times. Sixty-five women attended this special banquet in their honor in Central’s family life center with tables spread eight feet apart and masks being worn by all when they weren’t eating.
During the banquet, the wives were encouraged by a fellow wife of a policeman who understands their challenges from firsthand experience. “It’s always been challenging,” Lindley Hagar said. “You don’t have that normal life that all your friends have.”
For almost 25 years, Lindley Hagar has lived the life of a policeman’s wife. She knows the struggles and frustrations that come with the profession. Her husband, Jeff Hagar, is a Captain at the Sherwood Police Department. She said that lots of grace, patience, and kindness goes into loving a police officer. They don’t have the normal 9-5 workday as most do, and sometimes work gets brought home with them. She admitted that it wasn’t easy at first, and she didn’t always like the life they had to live. “I had to make a conscious decision, am I going to live this life emotionally and say, ‘this isn’t fair?’ or am I going to live the way the Bible tells me?”
Lindley talked about 10 things she is doing right now through this time to keep herself encouraged and not get upset about what she sees and hears in the world. Her main point was repeated throughout the entire engagement, “Staying close to God, trusting God, standing in the gap, and praying for them [their husbands] is what I emphasized.”
She admitted that speaking on a stage in front of people is not comfortable for someone of her personality type. However, the call to encourage these wives was worth the faith effort to step out in faith to serve them. “I don’t like talking on the stage,” she said. “It makes me a nervous wreck, but I can’t begin to tell you that when you begin to do stuff and you step out of your box God just does amazing things for you.”
“She did a phenomenal job,” Don Blackmore, Family Minister Pastor at Central, said about Hagar’s words of encouragement. He received lots of good feedback and encouragement from the ladies that attended. He described an email from one woman who wrote, “It was uplifting and filled me with exactly what I needed during this difficult time in our history. The feeling of support we felt was wonderful. Thank you so much for that.”
Wives also approached Lindley after she spoke to express their thanks and to acknowledge they felt encouraged afterward to “keep pressing on” during this time. The women’s ministry gave out door prizes and provided each lady with a ‘swag bag’ which included donated items and gift certificates from local businesses.
This was Central’s first year to hold a banquet specifically for the policemen’s wives. Based on the ministry’s impact and the feedback, they are excitedly planning to continue holding this event each year in conjunction with the law enforcement appreciation luncheon.