Hard Times

by Robert Kenneth Jones

Broken relationships, active hostility in families, among former friends and associates, open wounds from mistreatment, and plain old misunderstandings leave a heavy burden for our hearts to carry.

They crush our spirits. 

The tendency to hold on to resentments, plan revenge and lash out aggressively seem to be our human default mode.  We cry out; ‘I’ll get them back some day…I’ll show them.’  The trouble is that this eye-for-an-eye way of reacting can only result in more trouble, more viciousness, more wounds and more anguish.

An entire lifetime can be controlled by a single incident which sets up the dominoes of recurrent violence.  The weight of it is too much to bear and is an unnecessary encumbrance.

The way to a good relationship with God, self and others is to actively engage in healing and redemptive actions which offer reconciliation and forgiveness. 

God wants a humanity that is characterized by fearless love. This Love neutralizes the power of evil and transforms it to good.  It calls us to change the way we treat each other for the sake of God and community. It calls us to dedicate ourselves to each other.

Let’s take up that standard of inspiring children by teaching and modeling a non-violent, loving alternative.

Jesus teaches us to offer good for bad.  He asks for us to pray for those who persecute us.  He directs us to walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek and to love our enemy.

Kindness, mercy and compassion are the tools of recovery from woundedness.

When practiced and used with good intentions, they create restoration of a happy heart, healing of a crushed spirit and harmony in all of our relationships.  Something new will spring out of what seemed to be spoiled or ruined situations.

Something new will be kindled in our souls.   It all starts with simple action…with a kind heart, a touch, a smile, understanding eye contact or even a good joke. The crosses we carry will then become light.

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About the Author

In a career spanning over four decades, Robert Kenneth Jones has been an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse. His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Links

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Violence and Restoration

by Robert Kenneth Jones

Broken relationships, active hostility in families, among former friends and associates, open wounds from mistreatment, and plain old misunderstandings leave a heavy burden for our hearts to carry.

They crush our spirits. 

The tendency to hold on to resentments, plan revenge and lash out aggressively seem to be our human default mode.  We cry out; ‘I’ll get them back some day…I’ll show them.’  The trouble is that this eye-for-an-eye way of reacting can only result in more trouble, more viciousness, more wounds and more anguish.

An entire lifetime can be controlled by a single incident which sets up the dominoes of recurrent violence.  The weight of it is too much to bear and is an unnecessary encumbrance.

The way to a good relationship with God, self and others is to actively engage in healing and redemptive actions which offer reconciliation and forgiveness. 

God wants a humanity that is characterized by fearless love. This Love neutralizes the power of evil and transforms it to good.  It calls us to change the way we treat each other for the sake of God and community. It calls us to dedicate ourselves to each other.

Let’s take up that standard of inspiring children by teaching and modeling a non-violent, loving alternative.

Jesus teaches us to offer good for bad.  He asks for us to pray for those who persecute us.  He directs us to walk the extra mile, turn the other cheek and to love our enemy.

Kindness, mercy and compassion are the tools of recovery from woundedness.

When practiced and used with good intentions, they create restoration of a happy heart, healing of a crushed spirit and harmony in all of our relationships.  Something new will spring out of what seemed to be spoiled or ruined situations.

Something new will be kindled in our souls.   It all starts with simple action…with a kind heart, a touch, a smile, understanding eye contact or even a good joke. The crosses we carry will then become light.

________________________________

About the Author

In a career spanning over four decades, Robert Kenneth Jones has been an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse. His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.

Links

Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin

Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Annoucing: FIELD NOTES 
for Police Chaplains

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Robert Kenneth Jones & ChaplainUSA are proud to introduce Field Notes for Police Chaplains, a new educational resource for police chaplains.

Throughout the year, Robert will seek out success stories and breakthroughs in training and treatment that police chaplains can put to use in their community.

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Kids for Sale

by Robert Kenneth Jones

I made the most startling discovery about the world around me when I was 20 years old.  My college career took a turn to the left back in 1970.  The turbulent times of my generation were in full swing.  After the Kent State Shootings on May 4th many college campuses, including mine at Florida Southern, closed to prevent further violence.  I went home to Illinois.  It was there that I decided to take some time away from my studies in psychology and work with children in trouble. 

My mission was to ‘change the world’.  Mom cheerfully called me the family do-gooder.  The Executive Director at Vermilion County Children’s Home in Danville offered me a job as a residential child care worker.  I readily accepted and began to learn far more than any formal education could ever teach.  The startling discovery I mentioned occurred one day when two boys, aged 6 and 12 were admitted to the dormitory of which I was in charge.  It was revealed to me during intake that the boys were found to be abused by their mother who sold them to men on a regular basis to do with as they may.

How could this be? Who could do such a thing to innocent kids? Nothing in my upbringing or education prepared me to deal with the life that these boys endured.  I vowed to myself that I would do something, somehow to help children like them.

Several years later, I found myself in Fort Lauderdale volunteering at Covenant House. The work they were doing to rescue boys in Times Square had spread to other cities.  Children (mostly boys who referred to themselves as hustlers or chickens) were being bought and sold for sex by wealthy men called chicken hawks. I spent many hours talking to boys who lived at the Florida center.  They sought safe shelter and counseling while continuing to hustle. 

They were runaways from across the country that fled abusive homes to arrive at even meaner streets. Many of them had been kicked out of home by their parents for a variety of reasons. The stories they told me were dreadful.  The discovery in Danville that awakened me to this tragic situation was becoming a silent nationwide crisis.

One of the kids I got to know was fourteen year old Tony (not his real name of course).  He was a charming, handsome, manipulative boy who was the ring leader of the dozen or so others who were being trafficked by the trick or by the hour.  He was from Ohio and had been raped by a step-father from the age of nine. 

He ran away to warm weather on a bus bound for Fort Lauderdale.  It was only a matter of minutes before he was recognized as a viable product by a man who sold boys and girls to tourists.  Ultimately, he escaped to Covenant House.  Tony told me that over 100 men had abused him in only a few weeks.  He had become addicted to cocaine, alcohol and heroin.  He believed that he would survive longer ‘running his own show’ earning $40 – $60 a trick making $200 or more a night.  He fully understood that the average street kid survived for less than two years succumbing to addiction, STD’s or suicide.  When I left Fort Lauderdale there was no doubt in my mind that he would not live long.

I was the director of a Medication Assisted Outpatient Treatment Facility in Anderson, South Carolina back in 2002.  My office was just insider the front door and each patient who came to us for help could easily see me and was welcome to stop in.  One day, a young man who had just enrolled in the program walked by on his way out, did a double-take, and stuck his head in my door.  “Don’t I know you?” He asked.  We chatted for a minute trying to figure out the connection when he asked me if I had ever been to Covenant House in Fort Lauderdale.  I replied that I had. 

He looked at me hard and said, “You are Father Bob!”  That was the name the kids had given me so many years before.  He cried; “It’s me. Tony.”  He had lived and somehow transcended the streets.  Tony went on to tell his story of heading back to Ohio, confronting his demons, seeking methadone treatment, and moving on.  He had a wife, two children and a thriving EBAY resale business of baseball cards, memorabilia, furniture…anything but himself.  What a miracle! We spent quite a bit of time together during his outpatient stay at our center.  Then, one day, he moved on to another town.  His triumph continues to give me hope even in this new age of increased horrific child and adult human trafficking.

Trafficking is a word that seems sanitized to me.  It signifies that those who suffer are ‘the other’…that they are statistics and numbers which happen somewhere else to someone else.  But that is a grotesque form of denial.  These trafficked young people are OUR children.  They are marketed in the worst ways by vile people.  We are averting our eyes to the fact that these are kids for SALE. Covenant House, Loyola University New Orleans and The University of Pennsylvania conducted an exhaustive study of the merchandizing of homeless children.  If their findings don’t make it real and don’t break your heart there is something terribly wrong.

Things have changed in an insidious way in the 21st Century.  Don’t get me wrong.  Kids still gather on the streets as a product to be purchased.  There are still pimps who organize their activities.  But the change comes in cyber world.  Online dating sites have advertisements with code words that lure young people and match them with predators according to Tom Manning who I was privileged to interview at Covenant House International.  There is a link to about every town in America on these pages. 

One infamous site (I will not provide links) has a disclaimer stating “It is to be accessed only by persons who are 18 years of age or older (and is not considered to be a minor in his/her state of residence) and who live in a community or local jurisdiction where nude pictures and explicit adult materials are not prohibited by law. By accessing this website, you are representing to us that you meet the above qualifications. A false representation may be a criminal offense.” I bet that stops people from participating!  More and more kids are going to the dark streets of the world wide web than hotel bars, bus stops and other noticeable places.

The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reports that they responded to 10,093 cases of possible child sex trafficking in 2017. Can you believe that?  10,093 children!   The NCMEC provides hope and help for children, families and human service providers.  We, as Chaplains, police officers and human service providers are in a unique position to do something to stop the madness.  We chance upon and encounter trafficking frequently.  First, we must be informed. 

This journal offers hyperlinks to the best data out there.  Second, we are called to serve our children by listening and being present without judgement while connecting them to services and phone numbers like Covenant House nines (800-999-9999) Third, we should include them in personal and community prayers.

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About the Author   In a career spanning over four decades, Robert Kenneth Jones has been an innovator in the treatment of addiction and childhood abuse. His blog, An Elephant for Breakfast, testifies to the power of the human spirit to overcome the worst of life’s difficulties. We encourage you to visit and share this rich source of healing, inspiration and meditation.   Links   Contact Bob Jones on Linkedin   Bob Jones’ blog An Elephant for Breakfast

Unsung Heroes of Law Enforcement Take Center Stage on Social Media

After serving for decades in the trenches, police chaplains are beginning to assume a more public profile via social media.

While their work remains far from the public view, a group of police chaplains are determined to make police chaplains a more familiar part of our social media network.

The program is called the Police Chaplain Project, a nationwide effort to digitally capture the words and wisdom of America’s police chaplains and share the content we collect online.

“We believe it’s time to share the story of police chaplaincy,” says Chaplain Dave Fair, the program’s co-founder. “We are so fortunate to have lived long enough to be a part of the digital age, we just want to make certain we use technology to elevate and enlighten.”

“The program captures the wisdom and know-how of America’s police chaplains and transforms it into shareable content,” says Chaplain Dave Fair, the program’s co-founder. “The kind of digital content that inspires people to take action and share with their friends.”

History of the Police Chaplain Project

Established in 2008, by veteran police chaplain David Fair and media producer Phillip LeConte, the Police Chaplain Project has conducted over 100 interviews with police chaplains across the country.

The project has been an opportunity for both Fair and LeConte to reveal an aspect of America rarely seen or heard.

“Police chaplains are essential to the spiritual survival of police officers and their families,” said co-founder Chaplain David Fair, ”yet few citizens are familiar with the vital role they play. The Police Chaplain Project is changing all that.”

Co-founder and videographer for the project, Phillip LeConte, hopes the content’s civility connects with viewers. “Chaplains invest language with a grace that is immediately distinguishable from most of what we hear through the media,” said LeConte. “It’s been my great honor to add their compelling voice to the national conversation and to our digital legacy.”

Add your voice

The Police Chaplain Project continues to produce new interviews every year. Police chaplains from across the country travel to the project home-base in Austin, Texas to add their knowledge to the project. (Recording each chaplain’s testimony takes from 2-3 hours.)

Once collected, portions of the content are immediately shared through social media sites like Facebook. All content is eventually archived for future generations of chaplains and historians as a part of the Police Chaplain Archive, a permanent online repository.

If you are a police chaplain, we urge you to learn how you can add your experience and wisdom to the project.

Please email us at admin@chaplainusa.org

We need Police Chaplains

Police chaplains play a critical role in the well-being and spiritual survival of police officers and their families.

They are always there.

After every tragedy, every mass shooting, every line of duty death and natural disaster America’s police chaplains step into the void and heals broken lives.

The problem is many people have never even heard of a police chaplains.

The Police Chaplain Project is working to change all that.

It’s a mission that grows more urgent every day.

Our Story

A few years back, a group of us established the Police Chaplain Project.

The idea was to tell the story of police chaplaincy one chaplain at a time by creating a video archive.

We kept it simple. We invited police chaplains come in, sit down, look directly into the camera and share their story.

To date, the Police Chaplain Project has conducted more than 100 on-camera interviews with some of the most accomplished police chaplains of the past 50 years.

The content has inspired a loyal following on Facebook and other social media platforms.

We encourage you to visit ChaplainUSA.org.  From there you can tap into the many ways this unique content has been put to good use.

Police chaplains play a critical role in the well-being and spiritual survival of police officers and their families. For those in grief, simply listening to a police chaplain offers a path forward.

Sponsored by ChaplainUSA,  a non-profit 501c3 organization, the program is raising public awareness about a little known, but critical member of America’s law enforcement community – our police chaplains.