Over 120 police officers and staff from around New Zealand (NZ) met for a three day Christian Police Network Conference at Papatoetoe Seventh-day Adventist Community Church (Papsda).
Guest speakers included the Principle Youth Court Judge of NZ, Andrew Beecroft and Gary Raymond retired Chief Inspector, New South Wales Police Force. The conference spanned three days and aimed to create a sense of community amongst Christian Police and challenged them to grow in their own personal connection with God.
I want to see people live a positive life and my dream is for youth to be the best they can, that is why I work in the Otara area,
Gary Raymond: Retired Chief Inspector, New South Wales Police Force
Constable Sel Selone is a member of Papsda and works full time as a ‘COP-in-School’ in two Otara High Schools. Constable Sel grew up in Otara, a vibrant, primarily Pacific Island community with a large youth population and high crime rate. It’s also Papsda’s neighbouring suburb.
Constable Selone has a great love for his community and this gave him the desire to join the police force. “I want to see people live a positive life and my dream is for youth to be the best they can, that is why I work in the Otara area,” says Constable Selone.
He believes young people need adults they can look up to and he relishes the challenge of being a positive role model as a COP-in-School. Constable Selone is intentional about building relationships with students and part of that involves playing rugby, as well as dealing with law enforcement issues. When he is off duty, Constable Selone also serves on the Papsda Burger Van (similar to a soup kitchen) that operates on Friday evenings in Otara.
Having attended the first Police Christian Support Network Conference in 2009, Constable Selone dreamed of hosting the second in his own church. He saw it as an opportunity to build connections with other Christians and allow his church to serve and give back to his fellow police officers.
A team of local police and Papsda members planned the event which included small group workshops, key note addresses, opportunities for telling stories of God’s leading as well as a time for praise and worship. Detective Jon McKenzie from Whakatane, challenged the 650 strong group to act on God’s calling in their lives no matter their vocation.
“This weekend has been a fantastic opportunity to thank and honor our police, who ultimately have the same core mission as us—to help people live life to the full,” says Papsda pastor, Leanne Davies.
“It’s also been an invaluable opportunity to link with Christians of other denominations and build great connections. We thought we were serving them, but ultimately we have been so blessed. I’d challenge any church to do the same.”