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  • Writer's pictureJason E. Fort

From student to Peacemaker, in More ways than One

Updated: Apr 9

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God."

Matthew 5:9, NIV


I remember being in ninth grade Spanish class, I got upset and spoke up in the classroom when certain students wanted to argue with each other - and our teacher, Mrs. Rogers, couldn't even finish her thought to the class. I just wanted everyone to get along, and I was interested in learning more about the particular topic in Spanish for that day.


After class, Mrs. Rogers pulled me aside before I could get very far towards my next class.

"I want you to know, Mr. Fort, I appreciate you sticking up for me in there," she began (or words pretty close to that).

"You know you do pretty well in this class; I think even if you don't choose to master Spanish, you're going to be something like a diplomat one day."


I remember not really knowing what that meant, but I answered, "Thanks Mrs. Rogers. But I have to get to class."


"Okay, but I meant it, Jason. Thank you." She waved as I rushed off down the hall, toting my infamous trademark half-ton duffle bag full of books. Mrs. Rogers grinned, and I will always remember her tiny nose and pleasant grin. And I never forgot her words.


Diplomat - according to dictionary.com, one definition is, a person who can deal with people in a sensitive and effective way.

Years later, I became a school teacher. I definitely found ways of dealing with students in sensitive and effective ways, especially as it related to physical education. This career brought me great satisfaction for a time. But as things happened in my personal life, where it became harder for me to bring children at peace with themselves and difficult home situations, causing terrible discipline problems in my classes, I sought to become a 'peacemaker' elsewhere.


I chose to enter the fitness industry full-time, trying to help people seeking improvement in body image and health, and trying to help a variety of people in sensitive and effective ways. Perhaps I helped some people find peace within themselves; I will never forget a young man named Alex, who I helped light the spark inside him to commit to hard work in the gym, and he went from morbid obesity, to being able to walk and jog around the block, losing more than 200 pounds! That kid called to thank me personally years later when he reached his goal. I wish he was still with us today, but attention to his story got to be time consuming by the local media, and I don't think his heart could take the added stress of media hype. But the joy in his sincere words of thanks melted my heart. I will never forget Alex.


It turns out, I was also working to try to be the nicest bouncer in town on the side, while I worked in fitness. Late nights, on the weekends, the good people at a local bar and restaurant paid me cash to keep out the rifraff. People started telling me after fun pointless conversations, when they were both drunk and sober (and I was ALWAYS sober), "Jason, you ever thought of being a cop? You'd be a good one."

I took those words to heart, especially one day when certain doors of opportunity in fitness were slammed shut on one set of dreams. Thus through careful prayer, and discussion with my wife, my career in law enforcement was born. That was almost 15 years ago, and I can tell you, I've had to be pretty diplomatic wearing the badge. This is not to boast; this is to admit the difficulty for a big stubborn bear of a man like me at times; I have long time friends (and brothers) who can vouch for my old Fort temper. Restraint has not always been my 'forte'. But from learning to be sensitive and effective with helping suspects, victims, patients suffering from mental illness, training everyone from doctors to nurses to police to security officers in de-escalation, and being a mentor and role model for adolescents in a middle school while wearing a badge and gun - I've said it before and I will say it again; I found my dream job. I pray I can serve in such a way, in the same position and place for a few more years. But, the story isn't over.


All my life, because of my upbringing in church, I've always tried to serve the Lord in the world outside the church, using the talents I felt God gave to me for such purposes. Now, I've set out on an extended education, to answer one last calling, that I hope will last until my final years of life. I will strive to answer the call to be a chaplain.


The word chaplain stems from the Latin, cappellani, from the 4th century, when a certain clergyman named St. Martin cut his 'cape' in two to help a poor man keep warm in the cold. The cape later became a religious relic saved for display in a small chapel, to later be venerated by Charlemagne, eventually leading to certain clergy who accompanied the Norman armies and to honor these cappellani who served at the monarchy's request, served in chapels, and advised the king.

After a long history of association with helping soldiers, chaplaincy spread to other fields. It is mainly a service of spiritual care outside the church, yet can certainly aid to strengthen and grow the church. One of the strongest draws for me in my pursuit thus far in this further education, comes from a professor at Liberty University, from a video on the history of chaplaincy. "For people in their darkest hour, their most frightening hours, there you will find the chaplains throughout history."

Now read Mrs. Rogers' words to me again. Obviously, the role of a diplomat in many settings, fits the role of peacemaker. If somehow, some way, God has blessed me with the opportunity and talents to help people in sensitive and effective ways, and also find peace in Christ, perhaps I've been following a self-fulfilling prophecy all along...

only, I wasn't the one steering the boat.


If the good Lord is willing, perhaps I can be there for people in their darkest hours, and still live up to those words one of my favorite teachers ever said to me - in her most sensitive and effective way.

Thanks, Mrs. Rogers.


Thank you for reading, and God bless,

-------JEF

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