Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: Service in the community - part 2

Daffodils herald the start of spring and the season of Easter
Daffodils herald the start of spring and the season of Easter

Continuing the story of Jonathan Boatwright, a local Christian police officer.

As in any job, there are the negatives as well as the positives. Jonathan says: ‘High points are nearly always when I feel something has been done to make a difference to the people involved. A few examples might be solving a crime, saving someone’s life, finding a missing person, helping an individual through a difficult situation. Sometimes all they want is a listening ear, and it amazes me

how happy it makes them if you just take the time to stop and chat.

“For low points, it’s really the opposite of the highs. The occasions when, for whatever reason, you are unable to get a good result for someone. Also it can be hard trying to deal with people who refuse to accept help, particularly if they are repeatedly putting themselves into vulnerable


He related an incident just a few weeks ago, when he experienced God’s presence in a special way.

“I was policing a football match at the Amex Stadium (Falmer), it was half-time and I was with two colleagues positioned on the concourse outside the South Stand. Suddenly there was a shout over the police radio of a fight inside the refreshment area of the South Stand, which was quickly followed by an emergency activitation from an officer in that area.

“We immediately entered the stand and were greeted by a torrent of abuse from a large crowd who were surrounding a small group of stewards and police. We pushed through the crowd to get to our colleagues and, reaching them, turned outwards to face the crowd. At this point, I realised how incredibly outnumbered we were. The crowd kept pushing forwards towards us, I was faced with constant aggression and abuse from those at the front of the crowd and others within the crowd

were spitting and throwing all manner of objects at us.

“The crowd were getting angrier and I was fearful for the safety of myself and my colleagues. Other colleagues were starting to join us but we were still vastly outnumbered. Officers had to deploy incapacitant sprays and batons in an attempt to gain order. Gradually we managed to push the crowd back, separating them into two halves, and force them back into the seating areas.

“Once in their seats again the crowd seemed to calm a little but the concern was that the disorder would re-occur at the end of the game. I was praying about it and also texted several of my Christian friends, asking them to pray for this situation. The full-time whistle came and the crowd left as quietly and calmly as they had arrived, with no further incident. From their demeanour you would not have known that anything out of the ordinary had occurred. Praise the Lord.”

Jonathan has a Bible passage which is especially meaningful to him, as it is to so many others.

“Jeremiah 29, 11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ This is the verse that was given to me at my baptism. It reminds me that God is in control. I will be the first to admit that I’m not great at trusting, particularly when I can’t see the outcome for myself. I try to apply human logic to every decision, but sometimes that just doesn’t work.

“Reflecting on this verse helps me trust in God’s plan and provision for me, not least when I am faced with challenging, and stressful, situations.”

PS: ‘Hymns of Liberation’, Garth Hewitt in Concert; St Elisabeth’s Church, Victoria Drive, Thursday April 19th, 7.30 pm. Tickets £5.50, including refreshment, 01323 325478 or