It was Saturday night, always a busy time for 911–especially during the holiday season. Frank and Sue were out clubbing. No doubt there was much drinking. Arriving home about midnight, they started arguing, yelling in each other’s face.

This fight was particularly furious. Neither Frank nor Sue was about to give in.

Then suddenly, whatever the problem was, it went away. Right in the middle of their curse-out contest, Frank dropped to the floor. Dead.

The argument was over. Sue won.

The marriage was over, too. In one failed heartbeat, Sue went from angry wife to grieving widow.

Somehow amid her panic, she managed to phone for help. As paramedics wheeled Frank’s shrouded body out the door, the police escorted Sue, sobbing and screaming, off to the station. A sudden death had happened and they needed to know that no crime had occurred.

All they got was hysteria. “Frank! Frank! I’m sorry! Dear God! I’m really sorry! I just want him back! Now!”

Instead of Frank, I walked in the door of the interrogation room. Talking soothingly to Sue, I lightly touched her forearm like male chaplains are trained to do. But she needed to be hugged and held like a baby by a mother. Only a woman could really do that.

I told the detective in the hall outside the door that I needed dispatch to summon my secretary, Julie. She was a county-trained crisis responder, one of several women who worked with the chaplains. Julie had won the respect of the department by the way she helped a mother whose son drowned in a boating accident.

Julie arrived about 2:30 a.m., chaplain’s standard time. She cradled Sue in her arms, gently rocking her maternally. Soon the convulsive sobbing became quieter quivering, which gradually subsided. I slipped out of the room and told the detective that soon they would be able to interview Sue. My job was done for the night, thanks to Julie.

Sometimes the right man for the job is a woman, as they say. All police agencies recognize that certain responsibilities are better managed with a woman’s particular skills and intuition. Churches often have been reluctant to recognize this reality.

No single person has all the gifts needed to function in a community—whether a government agency, business corporation or church family. God knew this in assigning differing job descriptions within the priesthood of all believers. Thus priesthood is a specialty ministry, uniquely tailored for every man, woman and child in the church. Their varying gifts synchronize into a symphony of service.

Now, back to Sue’s story. I wish I could report a happy ending. As far as I know, Sue has never chosen to accept her peace with God through Jesus Christ. But mercy lingers. At least the church was there with God’s comfort and love on the darkest night of her life. I pray that Sue will be found in Christ on that great eternal morning, when the trumpet will sound and everything will get a whole lot better for a long time.