By Debra Whittington
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18
A funeral service for someone I had never met or even heard of made a profound effect on my life last week. The name of Randy Simmons was unknown to me until a news report from Los Angeles told of his death that took place in the line of duty. He died attempting to help someone he had never met before.
Simmons was a 51-year-old SWAT officer for the Los Angeles police department and the first officer of that unit killed in the line of duty. He served in the police department for 27 years and was offered numerous promotions, which he turned down in order to serve with his fellow officers as a member of the SWAT unit. He was a husband and father of two children. On the day of his death, he was the first one through the door attempting to apprehend a man who had already killed three of his family members. His death might have gone unnoticed to the rest of the country, except for the man Randy was and the impact he made on all who knew or even met him.
His two and a half hour funeral was televised live and attended by over 10,000 people including the police chief, mayor of Los Angeles, and the governor of California. Police officers from many states and Canada came as well. Numerous people spoke and told what an impact Randy had on their lives. While his service was admirable, even outstanding, it was who he was and why he lived that way that set Randy Simmons apart from others.
Randy accepted Jesus Christ as a youth and then put his faith into practice. Those who spoke at his funeral told how he was always witnessing to someone from his fellow officers to those he had arrested. He led a sidewalk Sunday School for kids in the poorest part of south Los Angeles every Saturday. He witnessed to gang members, many of which turned their lives around by accepting Christ. He taught a Sunday School at his church and was active in many activities. However, through all this he still found time for his family.
He conducted numerous classes for SWAT officers all over the country and Canada. While he wasn’t a training officer, he was sharing his faith with them. He had such a passion to witness to people who didn’t know Jesus as their savior that he gained the nicknames of “The Preacher” and “The Reverend”.
Talking like a Christian is one thing, but there are so many Christians who don’t live this type of life, as they should. There are so many opportunities to share Jesus with others but we don’t always do that. We have various excuses why we can’t share Jesus or help someone in need. We are too busy or it isn’t the right time or we are afraid the other person won’t listen to what we have to say. Sometimes I think it is because we put ourselves first, our families second and God in third place. We don’t remember that it should be God first, family second, and so forth.
Life is so short and we never know when it might end for any of us. Randy chose that day to go through the door before the other officers and as a result gave his life for them. Would we be willing to give our life for someone else?
Jesus gave His life on the cross for us. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. The preacher at the funeral asked if the people knew the same Jesus that Randy knew. I ask the same question today. Have you asked Jesus into your heart? If the answer is yes, then do you live the life of a Christian? Are you telling others about Jesus? Are you doing the things that God asks you to do? Are you willing to serve in any capacity, any time, anywhere?
Randy Simmons was remembered as a man of God who gave of himself.
At his funeral, an invitation was given and many accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Now, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions I asked myself. How will you be remembered when you are gone? What will people be saying about you when you die?