From Enforcer to Encourager
By John W. Kennedy
Apr. 28, 2013
Dan Walls spent most of his career protecting the public from criminals. Now, as an Assemblies of God chaplain, his focus is reaching inmates with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This year, under the auspices of AG U.S. Missions, Walls will launch a Global University study center at Terre Haute (Ind.) Federal Correction Complex. In 2000, Walls, while an officer with the Terre Haute Police Department, began taking Global classes at the church he attends, Cross Tabernacle (AG).
By 2004, Walls had become Bible study pastor and coordinator for the study center at Cross Tabernacle. This year, nine people who have taken Bible courses through the church’s school of ministry will receive their AG ministerial credentials, including Walls’ wife, Felicia.
The Cross Tabernacle School of Ministry, the name of the Bible college at the church, is an approved study center for Global University curriculum.
“Police put bad people away, but how can these lives be changed effectively?” Walls asks. Because he’s schooled in law enforcement, he says, “God allows me to go in and minister to prisoners in an educational setting and mentor them.”
Walls served for a quarter century on the police department in his native Terre Haute, which has a population of 61,000. He started as a uniformed patrolman and ended as a detective investigating crimes against children. Last year he gained appointment as an AG U.S. missionary.
In 2004, Walls says God laid a dream on his heart to be the chaplain to the 135-member department. Chief John Plasse, who has known him since Walls joined the force in 1987, had been contemplating creating a chaplaincy post when Walls approached him about becoming a volunteer chaplain.
Walls seemed to be a natural fit to Plasse because he knew firsthand what officers must deal with on a daily basis. And Walls already had been accepted into the close-knit ranks because of his status as an insider.
“It’s nice to have someone there who can help lift the officers’ spirits, pray with them, or give them a blessing when needed,” Plasse says. “He quickly proved that he earned the position.”
As chaplain, Walls has performed wedding and funeral services for police officers, prayed with them through personal crises, given them new Bibles, and counseled them in the aftermath of violence on the job.
Walls, 55, says he went to an Assemblies of God church regularly while growing up, but drifted away from the Lord in early adulthood. At 40, three years after marrying, he and Felicia decided to check out Cross Tabernacle.
“We needed something more in our marriage, and I told Felicia we needed to get to church,” Walls recalls. “We walked into that church for the first time in our marriage, and the Holy Ghost captured us almost instantaneously. I had never felt that way before. I knew I truly had a meeting with the resurrected Christ.”
Soon, Walls says God showed him a vision of Exodus 28 — the call of Aaron into the priesthood — and Matthew 28 — Jesus’ Great Commission to His followers to take the gospel into the world.
Walls’ career in law enforcement and ministry dovetailed two years ago. While still on the force, he received a phone call that his son Daniel, then 14, had collapsed during basketball practice at middle school.
Daniel stopped breathing, his heart stopped beating, and he turned purple. School personnel used CPR and an automated external defibrillator. When his father arrived, Daniel had just received a defibrillator shock.
Walls placed his hands on Daniel’s chest and prayed for God to spare his son’s life. The boy revived, and, after a five-day hospital stay that included a defibrillator being implanted in his chest, resumed normal life.
“I got to see my son raised from the dead,” Walls says. “I saw how God’s powerful spoken word can bring a boy back to life.”
Walls remains a volunteer chaplain with the police department even as he shifts his emphasis to inmates. Felicia, who is a high school French and Spanish teacher, spends time ministering to wives of policemen. And Walls is a volunteer chaplain with the Blue Knights, a law enforcement motorcycle club of active and retired law enforcement officers.
Cross Tabernacle Senior Pastor Keith E. Taylor has mentored Walls since his conversion 16 years ago. Taylor has seen Walls go from disciple to minister.
“Dan is an influencer in the way the Lord has directed him,” Taylor says. “Dan is a man of integrity. He spends a lot of time as an intercessor. We pray together every Sunday morning at 5:30 before services.”
“Dan is genuine, and he is sincere,” Plasse, the police chief, says. “He is a man of God, and it shows in what he does.”
The prison is a wider mission field than the police force, Walls believes, with the potential to impact hundreds of men with God’s deliverance and healing. He will be ministering at both the medium- and high-security facilities in Terre Haute, which hold more than 2,600 inmates combined.
Walls feels his background in law enforcement helps him better understand objections prisoners have to the gospel.
“These guys can’t be fixed without true change in their hearts,” he insists, “and that comes through knowing the Lord.”
JOHN W. KENNEDY is news editor of the Pentecostal Evangel.
Email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.