East Texas Baptist University celebrated the 2019 National Police Week by hosting its annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon on May 14 to honor all of the public servants that serve the Marshall community, Harrison County and surrounding region.

“We acknowledge your service to our citizens within Marshall, Harrison County, and the state of Texas,” ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn said. “I am reminded of the story of Nehemiah. After being led in prayer by God, Nehemiah asked King Artaxerxes to return from Persia to Israel and rebuild the wall. A city wall provided protection for the inhabitants, and the condition of the wall represented the strength of the people. Nehemiah grieved over the condition of Jerusalem because without a wall, the people would be vulnerable to attack.

“I share that with you because you are our wall of defense for our nation, community, and families. Your protection is a significant factor in our ability to enjoy life,” Dr. Blackburn continued, “As an expression of our appreciation, East Texas Baptist is going to donate $5,000 to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office so officers can have the tourniquets that helped save the injured officer’s life.

“We are grateful for your leadership to build walls of defense for us, and our prayers are with you.”

Marshall Police Department Officer Zachary Lastra was injured on duty Monday, and he needed two tourniquets to save his life. Thankfully, the Marshall Police Department recently received a federal grant to purchase 50 tourniquets.

However, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office does not own any of these life-safety devices. The evening following the officer’s injury and use of the tourniquets, Harrison County Deputy Dwight Mays prayed for God’s provision for these devices for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

“When I heard about what happened to the MPD officer and how the tourniquets saved his life, I knew I had to find the money for this equipment,” Mays shared. “I prayed about it that night. Today, I ended up sitting at a different table with Dr. Blackburn and MPD Chief Cliff Carruth because our sheriff’s table was full.

“In a conversation about the injured MPD officer, the chief mentioned that MPD had recently invested in the tourniquets and every officer had been issued one,” he continued. “Dr. Blackburn turned and asked me if the sheriff’s office had any of these. Later in the luncheon, he announced ETBU would provide the funds to purchase tourniquets for every Harrison County deputy.

“I have never had a prayer request answered that quickly. I appreciate when the university hosts events like this, because we are reminded of the spiritual purpose for our positions.”

ETBU presented a certificate of appreciation to Harrison County Sheriff Tom McCool, Marshall Police Department Chief Carruth and Texas Department of Public Safety Cpl. Kevin Arnold.

The university also distributed to each attending officer a travel mug inscribed with the university logo and Matthew 5:9, which reads, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

“We see your job as an extension of what God came to do on the Earth in making peace,” ETBU Vice President for Enrollment and Administrative Affairs Kevin Caffey explained.

“Beginning with Adam and Eve in the garden, God has been active to bring about peace in the world between both God and His people and between fellow men. “In Matthew 5, Jesus is teaching the Sermon on the Mount. These Beatitudes list how Christ followers reflect His character,” he added. “We also see this idea in Galatians 5:22-23. Peace is the fruit of God’s Spirit, and when you are a peacemaker, you reflect His character and continue His redemptive work.

“We are thankful for every sacrifice you make to keep the peace.”

The university and the city of Marshall partnered to provide the Public Servant Scholarship to reduce the cost of tuition at ETBU for all full-time Marshall Fire Department firemen, Marshall Police Department officers, Texas DPS troopers and Harrison County Sheriff’s deputies.

The scholarship covers one-half of undergraduate tuition and one-third of graduate tuition for law enforcement officers in the county.

“I have been working in Marshall for 18 years, and I have always had a positive relationship with ETBU. This place is an anchor for the City of Marshall,” Lt. Len Ames commented. “I used to work security at ETBU and fell in love with the university. When the scholarship opportunity opened, I took advantage. It was online, so I could fit the courses around my schedule.

”I graduated this May with a bachelor’s degree and will begin my MBA in August,” he said. “The university has always supported the police and recognizes not just the sacrifices we make, but the sacrifices our families make as well.

”ETBU goes over the top to encourage us all.”