God in the Workplace

On Monday, March 19th, Michael Klassen (’98) came to speak to our students regarding God in the workplace.  Michael shared how  fortunate he was to attend Westgate Mennonite Collegiate and have the support from his teachers and coaches as a highschool student.  His career choice was not known upon graduation. After spending a few years at Red River Community College and managing a Safeway store he knew there was something else out there for him.  God provides us with experiences to help answer the bigger questions in life. Michael is currently working as a constable for the Winnipeg Police Service.


God in the Workplace

Submitted by Michael Klassen

            …Final Inspection…

The Policeman stood and faced his God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining as brightly as his brass.
“Step forward now, officer. How shall I deal with You?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?”
The officer squared his shoulders and said,
“No, Lord, I guess I ain’t.
Cause those of us who carry badges can’t always be a saint.
But I never took a penny that wasn’t mine to keep,
Though I worked a lot of overtime when the bills just got too steep.
And I never passed a cry for help, though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God forgive me, I wept unmanly tears.
I know I don’t deserve a place among the people here.
They never wanted me around except to calm their fear.
If you have a place for me here Lord, it needn’t be so grand.
I’ve never expected or had too much.
But if you don’t, I’ll understand.”
There was silence all around the throne where the saints had often trod.
As the officer waited quietly for the answer of his God.
“Step forward now, Officer, you’ve borne your burdens well.

Come walk a beat on Heaven’s Streets. You’ve done your time in Hell.”

-Author Unknown-


Good Morning, my name is Michael Klassen.  I am a Police Officer and I am Christian.

I became a Constable with the Winnipeg Police Service in February of 2005.  At that time, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what I signed up for thanks to the hundreds of TV shows and movies that portray Police.   However, the TV shows often only show one side of the story.  The car chases, the arrests, the interrogations but not the non-criminal incidents.  It’s these non-criminal incidents that allow me to see how fortunate I am to have God in my life.

I have worked a majority of my career in General Patrol which I really enjoy due to the variety of things I get to see and experience in a shift.  Whether I’m working days, evenings or midnight shift, my typical day starts the same.  I attend the Public Safety Building down town on Princess/William.  I get changed in my uniform, which includes a bullet proof vest, duty belt containing handcuffs, search gloves, pepper spray, baton, ammunition and a gun.  I inspect myself in the mirror, give the boots a quick polish and head up to the briefing room.  This is where I meet with about 20 other officers that work on my shift.  We having a quick briefing, where we hear about what dangerous offenders may have been released from prison and are a high risk to re offend or we are informed about drug houses, crime trends or gang members in our city that we should be aware of.  We are also provided keys to the cruiser car, our portable radios, a taser and I am told which partner I will be working with for that day.  This typically takes about 15 minutes and then my partner and I head downstairs to the garage.  We get into the cruiser car, advise dispatch we are on the road and we are available for any type of Emergency Call or Non Emergency call that requires Police.  Typically we do not stay available very long as there is always someone waiting for Police to attend their location as they are in some need of assistance.

In my seven years of Policing, I have been dispatched to thousands of calls.  The calls vary from Domestic Disputes, Family Disputes, Neighbour Disputes, Impaired Drivers, Fatal and Non Fatal Motor Vehicle Collisions, Elder Abuse, Child abuse, Assaults, Sexual Assaults , Robberies,  Stabbings, Suicides and Homicides.  Any type of situation where Police are required, I have most likely attended.  I have seen a lot of negative things in my 7 years of Policing.  People at their worst, their angriest, most violent and depressed.  Usually in situations where God feels like he is nowhere in sight.

About 2 years ago, I met with my pastor Don for coffee as I just needed someone other than another cop or my wife to talk to about work.   It was excellent and I really appreciate how easy Don is to talk to about anything.   During the course of our conversation I was expressing my frustrations with God and how I never realized how many people in this city need His help.

Don said something that really stuck with me during our time together.  He said, Mike, the tough thing about your job is that you experience so many negative things in one day.  Often you may attend a serious incident, deal with the parties involved and then you are off to the next call, dealing with another serious incident.  There is hardly any follow up to see if the situation ever improved and no relationship with the people interviewed is really made.    He suggested if I look hard enough I could find God in any situation even if it was only God working through me in the course of my duties, God was still present.

I have noticed that even on situations that may seem hopeless, if I look hard enough God is there.

I’ve been dispatched to an intersection regarding an intoxicated male who was wandering into traffic.  I approached the male who is wearing dirty clothing, smells strongly of body odor, urine and alcohol.  His hair is dirty, face unshaven; everything he owns is on his back or in his pockets.  My partner and I take him to the drunk tank and upon searching his pockets I find a copy of Our Daily Bread, a daily devotional book.

I’ve been dispatched to a home where a child about 10 years old had a horrible accident.  We arrived just after the paramedics did and they were working on the child attempting to resuscitate him.  As the paramedics rushed the child to the ambulance my partner and I remained on scene to speak to the parents.  I start asking myself, where is God in a situation like this.  That is when the mother tells me she has to make a phone call and runs to the phone.  I over hear the conversation and she asks the person on the other side of the phone to start a prayer chain for her child.

I’ve been dispatched to a known drug house where a 35 year old has overdosed from an awful drug addiction.  As we enter the room we observe hundreds of needles and other drug paraphernalia scattered on the dresser and floor.  Posters on the wall of half naked women cover the suite and it would appear to me that this person has no relationship with God.  That’s when I notice a piece a paper thumb tacked to the wall and on it are the Ten Commandments.

I’ve been dispatched to home to assist an old man in locating his wife.  We arrive and meet with the man who is about 75 years old.  I see pictures in the background of the old man and his wife.  Pictures of what appears to be his grandchildren cover the walls and a note on the fridge says I love you Oma and Opa.

The man tells me his wife suffers from Alzheimer’s and this morning she was having an episode.  Wearing only her house coat and slippers she stormed out the door looking for her father.   In her mind she was a young girl back in Europe and wanted to see her dad.  The man said he tried to stop her but she wouldn’t listen and was becoming violent. He said he didn’t want to hurt her by holding her back so she walked out of the house. A combination of the man’s age, the weather conditions and fear that his wife’s anger would escalate the husband was not able to follow her.  The man was almost in tears and he was asking for our help to find his wife.

We searched the area and found the woman several blocks away and brought her to the hospital as the frostbite was visible on her body.  We called the husband on the phone who agreed to meet us at the hospital.  As we were standing in the waiting room, the husband accompanied by one of his daughters came in and ran to his wife. His wife was still confused an unaware of her surroundings; however the husband hugged his wife and cried.

After going back and thinking about this call I realized how the relationship between the husband and wife is very similar to the relationship so many people have with God.   No matter what choices we make in life, God is always waiting for us with open arms.

I am so thankful to have God in my life.  Without Him, so many of the calls for service I attend would seem hopeless.

Where someone else might see a life wasted to drugs and alcohol, I see a person with a severe addiction problem trying to maintain a relationship with God.

Where someone might see a bum with a free book, I see a homeless man who God has not given up on.

Where someone might see a mother make a phone call to a friend to share horrible news, I see a community come together in prayer to pray for a grief stricken family.

His presence may not be obvious all the time, but living my life as a Christian has enabled me to see God in even the most desperate situations.