Director of the Police Association Former Bath Bobbie Paul Bright Speaks About Robin Oake and the CPA
Retired Bath Bobbie, Bath Street Pastors founder and Director of the National Christian Police Association, Paul Bright tells us why Robin Oake's message of forgiveness is so important this Christmas. Find out about this dynamic Christian's role in the CPA and why we need to remember that Police 'laugh, cry, get angry and frustrated, is loved and cares for someone, makes mistakes- policing is life in the raw interacting with people often not at their best'.
(PICTURES: PAUL BRIGHT AND COLLEAGUE, PAUL AS A STREET PASTOR, ROBIN OAKE QPM, THE CPA)
Paul talks to editor, Emma Gypps.
Please tell me why you and your church leader felt that Robin's story was so relevant for Advent?
Patrick Whitworth of All Saints had heard that Robin speaks powerfully on the subject of Forgiveness - and would be good for this More To Life event on a human level. Advent is a good time for people to get right with each other; the season of goodwill and all that, and with God. Jesus coming into the world was the great gift of loving forgiveness for our sins which we need to believe and accept, enabling us to have a restored relationship with the Father
What does Advent mean to you? And what do you think people should meditate on over Advent?
Advent (from the Latin word adventus meaning 'coming') is a season in the
church calandar, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas).
In the business of the lead up to Christmas the challenge for me each year is to find simplicity, stillness and connect with God in a fresh way around this utterly amazing sequence of events.
This is a More to Life event - is it aimed at anyone? Do you have to be a Christian to get something out of it?
Open to all, you dont need to be a Christian, I think most people connect with a story and Robin has certainly got a interesting one to tell. Oh, and everyone needs forgiveness!
Do you know Robin Oake personally? After the tragedy him and his family sustained, does he carry an authentic message/presence of peace and forgiveness?
Yes, I have known Robin for many years through CPA. He is a man of stature in every sense! He's well over six feet tall! When someone has suffered loss in the way Robin and his family have, and the way they have come through, it is time to shut up, listen, learn and give respect!
As a policeman do you feel that the message about forgiveness and reconciliation Robin carries is particularly relevant to society today?
Definitely, it is a major theme and factor in relationships, whether is
something trivial or major, it affects every facet of human interaction and society would be transformed if forgiveness was practiced.
It is said that many people who suffer mental illness do so due to issues of unforgivenss not given or received. That is not to say people shouldn't be brought to justice too. Mercy is closely aligned to forgiveness and as Shakespeare said in the 'Merchant of Venice' 'mercy seasons justice'...
Reconciliation is a good aim, and cheaper if kept out of courts! It is closely connected to the biblical theme of restoration which police forces are pursuing working with victims and offenders coming together.
Robin has said he's keen for 'bobbies' to come along to the event - do you think your colleagues - policemen and women need support and to hear this message?
When someone sees a police officer it is usually the uniform, the car speeding by with 'twos and blues' going or the image they have from TV. Behind the uniform is a human being who feels, hurts, laughs, cries, gets angry and frustrated, is loved and cares for someone and makes mistakes.
Policing is life in the raw interacting with people often not at their best and one can become cynical about life - the message of the gospel brings love, joy and peace into one's life and offers hope for ultimate justice, it is good news for all who will accept it.
Forgiveness is central and conditional as we learn in the Lord's prayer- forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us - love the sinner, hate the sin!
You are the national Director for the Christian Police Association, how did you get involved in this role?
I am Assistant to the Executive Director Don Axcell who is based in London - I was a police officer in Avon and Somerset for 30 years, having joined straight from school in Bath.
I became a Christian just before I joined the police and linked up with the CPA. For me life is about people not things and I didnt want an office job so policing was the ticket - and you get to retire early too with a decent pension, two things in short supply these days!
When I finished at the end of 2007 I got involved in starting up Street Pastors in Bath and then was approached by CPA to assist on their national team. I realise now there is no retirement as a Christian!
Do you feel its an important or crucial organisation to be involved in as a policeman; due to the demanding nature of the work you have to deal with?
It's a small helpful organisation in the large policing world, seeking to support people in their work and find, grow and express their faith in the workplace. We think Christians on the whole are good workers - always double crewed of course with the Holy Spirit!.
We are an increasingly secular society, Christianity has been moving to exile mode, however I detect a mood swing in the nation where we are 'not ashamed' and are moving slowly back into the centre of society- the good news is never in handcuffs!
What does your role in the CPA involve? Do you have a daily or weekly or monthly routine?
I assist in the running of the charity, supporting and developing the work. I work from home 3 days a week - a laptop and skype are wonderful tools and help communication! Earlier this year I cycled 1,524 miles in 22 days around the UK visiting 18 police forces with a view to setting up Christian Police networks £1,944 was raised for Malawi.
What are your hopes for the CPA? For the future and in today's society?
Founder of CPA in 1883 Catherine Gurney asked 'who cares for those
who cares for us?' the answer is we do.
We currently have over 2,000 members; police officers and police staff across the UK, and network within forces with three times that number. We have branches in 37 out of 55 forces and are working to have full networks in all. Times are tough in the public sector, including policing and CPA seeks to support people.
As part of the Big Society initiative, we are encouraging Christian communities to actively support policing and or community safety and have a new Home office backed project called Coact which means 'working together' not a new toothpaste
CPA acts as 'movers and shakers' from the police service side.