I spoke with Sgt. Sean Renfro last September. He’d been doing some writing and wanted to see if it was ready to be turned into a book. It took me some time to get back to him, but eventually we talked. In essence, I told him I liked what he had written, but I didn’t think he was ready to publish. I encouraged him to continue writing, start a blog to build an audience, and to be patient. I knew if he stayed with it, he would get there, though it might be a while. He said he would and we kept in touch.
A month or so later, he emailed me:
I don’t know if you’ve seen the activity on my blog the last few days but I published a post on Tuesday that went somewhat viral (at least by my standards). I’ve had almost 1,500 hits in the last 3 days and it’s been really exciting. If you haven’t already, please take a look when you have time. There are some great things happening in my community as a result! I want to thank you for encouraging me to start the blog in the first place, it’s been a real blessing.
As you may have already seen in the video above, Sean was killed in early January when a car lost control and hit him after he and a friend pulled over to help a young couple who’d had an accident themselves. The man he was with, Sam, was the one that connected us originally, because last fall Melissa was driving up highway 285, along almost the same stretch of road, and the clutch went out on our Rav4. Stranded, Sam pulled over and got her where she needed to go, helped us arrange to get the clutch fixed through another connection, and he took our card in case there was some reason God had connected us. Since then has sent a couple of friends like Sean to us who wanted writing help. None of them were ready to do books yet, but I’ve stayed in touch with all of them.
I found out about Sean’s accident, because I hadn’t heard from him for a bit and went to visit his blog to see how things were going. I wanted to reconnect through leaving some comments. I read his latest post, which was in December, and when I went to the comments I found condolences. Stunned, I did a quick search and found the video above. Not knowing what else to do to honor Sean, I started writing this blog.
I never met Sean face to face. If fact, I’ve never met Sam, either. And yet to me, they are both the epitome of what a Christian really is. They stopped to help. Yes, like the Good Samaritan, but that story has never meant more to me than it does at this moment. Sean wasn’t a man marked by a certain set of beliefs and church attendance, but was someone who joined the sheriff’s office because he wanted to be there, on call, when people were in danger or in a really bad place. He wanted to be the one with a kind presence when people may well have been at their worst. In talking with him about his writing and his experiences, I knew he didn’t want this because he thought he would have some earth-shattering thing to say in those situations that would change their lives. No. Instead he knew he could just be there and be a calming presence in what was often chaos or catastrophe. He even wrote about it in one of his blogs. He was that for that young family who’d just had an accident. I know he must have been that to many others as well.
One of the things I remember from what he wrote was that police officers and law enforcement are like sheepdogs protecting their flocks. When shots are fire or calamity strikes, they are the ones who run towards it instead of away from it. It’s their jobs to be in harm’s way so that the rest of us don’t have to be.
Cliches somewhat roll through my head as I write this. Some of them may be occurring to you as you read it. Yes, there are many lessons I could coax out of all of this, but I didn’t start writing this with some kind of message in mind. I don’t want to go there. What I do want to do is get you to think about people like Sean. People in uniforms who decided to put on those uniforms so someone could see a kind face when their world was falling apart. Think about people like Sam. People who stop and help others because that is what they think Jesus would have done. I want you to think about Sean and his desire to write, and the fact that he touched people not because he was a bestselling author, but because he went ahead and used his gift in something as simple as a blog—and he was grateful that he could write. Honestly, I think there are a lot of other people who are grateful he wrote as well. I am. If he hadn’t had that desire, I never would have met him.
Thinking about who he was and how he lived, I know I will be better tomorrow for having spoken with him and shared some of his writing. I am so glad I got that opportunity.
See you on the other side, Brother. And thank you for the legacy you left, as brief as it was. I for one will never be the same because of you.