Are we Christians, but only on Sunday morning?

Chief David O’Neal Brown

The historic events that have transpired in the nearby cities of Dallas and Baton Rouge have affected every Texan. Many that have long been silent have found voices and have spoken out both verbally and in print. Every person I know has an opinion. My purpose of bringing these newsworthy events to our minds again today is not to rehash the account of a sniper in a parking garage or the calculated ambush of officers, or to point out the bravery of our men and women in blue, or even to remember the individual citizens who have stepped up to the plate to help their neighbor and those that they have never met.

While watching a recent newscast featuring Chief David O’Neal Brown of the Dallas Police Department, I was impressed with several things he shared and the ease with which he shared them with the very mixed audience in attendance at an open news conference. I later learned that Brown is a native of Dallas and a graduate of South Oak Cliff High School. He is also a graduate of Dallas Baptist University, Amberton University, the FBI National Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute, The United States Secret Service Dignitary Protection Training, and the National Counter-Terrorism Seminar. Brown is certified by the state of Texas as a master police officer and a police instructor. Brown has been widely praised for his reforms to reduce violent confrontations between police officers and the community.

By his own testimony, when he returned home for a semester break from college, he noticed behavior in his own community that bothered him, and he felt a desire being born in his heart to help change the picture. He completed an application for the Dallas Police Department and has served there since 1983. After rising through the ranks, he was sworn into office as chief of police  May 4, 2010. According to an article in the New York Times, Brown “has earned a national reputation as a progressive leader whose top priority is improving relations and reducing distrust between the police department and the city’s minority residents.” He has also earned the reputation as a tough boss and has sought to increase transparency, including equipping officers with body cameras and to reform training on the use of lethal force.

Brown is married to former Dallas police sergeant Cedonia Brown.

The top cop in Dallas has garnered much attention in recent weeks, and reading his biography, several news stories and questions asked of him, it would seem that Brown is a very private man in a very public job. He seems pleased to be able to report that Dallas has enjoyed a reduction in major crime for several years and that many of his ideas seem to be working and working well.

Putting all of this information completely aside, I formed my own opinion of him when he was asked a pointed, personal question during a major news conference Monday, July 11. A reporter asked, “How have you been able to carry on your work and remain as calm as it seems you have during this last hectic week?” Brown looked directly at the reporter and answered, “Sheerly by the grace of God and because of His tender and kind mercies.” Say what you will, think what you like, and speak your own thoughts, but to me, his answer was wonderful and it proved to me that Chief Brown is not just a Sunday Christian, but one for every day of the week. He also went on to give great appreciation to his fellow law enforcement officers and the members of his city and the state of Texas.

He didn’t hesitate, he didn’t think, and he didn’t stall. He simply gave credit to God for helping him through these horrible times. And to me and many others, it seemed genuine and real. Brown did not quote Lamentations 3:22 and 23, but he could have: “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning. They fail not.”

If our individual faith is real and meaningful, we will honor it every day of the week, and not just on Sunday mornings.


Brenda Cannon Henley can be reached at (409) 781-8788 or at brendacannonhenley [at] yahoo [dot] com.