From police squad to man of God
A former Nelson policeman has traded his badge for a bible, embarking on a new career as a youth pastor.
Sean Young, 41, was a police officer, detective and Armed Offenders Squad member for 15 years before taking on the role at Grace Church in Richmond last month.
He has taken over the church’s youth programme, leading up to 40 young people.
Young said he had always wanted to work in ministry since becoming a Christian 20 years ago.
‘‘For that whole 20 years, even when I was policing, I was always looking towards the opportunity but sometimes the timing’s just not right.’’
Young joined the army when he left Waimea College and spent six months on a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1995.
After leaving the army, he studied physical education at the University of Otago where he met Christians who shared their faith with him.
‘‘I started interacting with a group of Christians that started presenting me with evidence for the Bible and Jesus.
‘‘To be honest, the evidence became insurmountable.’’
A year later, he said he heard a talk that ‘‘convicted me of the reality of my sin and my need for God’’.
‘‘There was an academic side but in the end it had to be a spiritual move.’’
Following university, an opportunity to join the police came up. Young said he saw his faith as complementary to the job.
‘‘I guess a big part of what I believe is about social justice and making a stand for those who can’t make a stand for themselves.
‘‘I still believe that policing is about changing the world and in the big picture the guys work extremely hard and make a big difference.’’
As a policeman, Young said he was also exposed to the ‘‘darker side of our society’’.
‘‘I’ve sat across the table and spoken to murderers and rapists and child abusers. They are the reality of what is broken down in the world.
‘‘But I also believe that there is a great remedy.’’
Young and his wife Kiri have volunteered in the church. Last year, the church’s former youth pastor took up a new role in Christchurch, providing the opening for Young.
He said it was an ‘‘absolute joy’’ working with the young people in the church and running the Friday night youth group, Detonate.
‘‘It’s a very consuming job in a wonderful way.’’
Young said the most difficult part of the transition from policeman to pastor was learning not to make snap judgements of people.
‘‘It’s actually quite difficult to stop thinking like a policeman. I guess we’re just trained to be people-watchers.
‘‘I actually want to walk down the street and not care whether they’re wearing a patch or a blazer.
‘‘I want to see them as God’s creation and not the assessment I made for a good half of my life.’’
Former police detective and AOS member Sean Young has become a youth pastor at Grace Church in Richmond.