As pastor of Fallston UMC, the Rev. Karin Walker, like many pastors in the BWC, have been responding to people caught in the opioid epidemic. Recently, she issued a letter to the first responders in the community who are the front lines of addressing the pain and tragedy that can accompany addiction. We share it here as a resource for those seeking words to say, as a thank you, and as an incentive to prayer and ministry.
Dear First Responders,
On behalf of the church, I want to thank you for your service to the community. As people who count on you to respond in times of fire or medical emergency, or domestic situation, we are grateful.
I understand that, now, in this opioid crisis, that the majority of calls often are related to drugs and overdoses. I’ve heard and shared with the congregation the kinds of horrors that have been shared with me, although muted because they were just too awful to share in church. We cannot imagine the tragedy of a 20-year-old woman, paralyzed, because she had no oxygen for so long after an overdose; and first chance she gets, she does it again. Or a dead mother with needles everywhere and her children begging her to wake up. We cannot imagine the horror of finding in the back of a van, three young women from Malaysia, who thought they were coming to the U.S. for a college education, only to be drugged and trafficked in the sex trade, until they are now heroin addicts. We do see in our own families and among friends, the scourge of addiction. Every family, it seems, has been impacted in some way as a young person gets hooked, or arrested, or in a car accident, or caught up in drugs. So we see some of the horror of this crisis.
But for you, day after day, call after call, you see the depravity of the human condition and the ravage it wreaks upon families and human life. You might even wonder where God is in this opioid crisis because it sure feels like evil is winning.
Throughout history, the world has experienced the wretchedness that humans inflict upon each other, be it war, slavery, or genocide. And good people have always risen to the occasion to end it.
Those good people this time include people like you — our first responders who respond to drug overdoses, hunt down buyers and sellers of drugs, and rescue people from themselves after driving under the influence.
God is present every time you go on a call. This epidemic is shattering families, but God is at work and good will win out as a result. We have trusted that through the centuries and even now, we know it to be true.
We need you to take care of yourself and to trust your faith that God has this — for your own sake and that of your families. We want you to watch out for each other, to see signs of PTSD in yourself and others and get the help you need. You went into this business because you have a heart for service and I am sure it has been tainted by the opioid crisis. But that servant’s heart can be rekindled. Talk with your peers about the good calls, the times and places where people help each other. Be reminded of the best of humanity and rekindle some spirit of optimism.
Remember those words from Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
You are not carrying the burden alone. We commit to praying for you every day; and we are grateful for all that you do for us. Here at Fallston UMC, we also will continue to educate people about the horrors of this crisis and what parents and grandparents can do. Maybe it will save, or has saved a life.
Godspeed and God’s protection be with you every day.
Rev. Dr. Karin Walker
Fallston United Methodist Church