From po­lice squad to man of God

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - JONATHAN CAR­SON

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.