Reaching the Police: Navigators First Responder Ministry in Seattle

When Doug Heric first joined the police force at 40 years old, he found that more in his life changed than just his career. 

A group of Navigators first responders stand in front of a police cruiser while smiling for a photo.
Navigators Doug Heric and Darren Lindblom, as well as Officer Tony Grosz, all help with the Navigators First Responder Ministry’s Fellowship of Warriors events, where they share a gospel message with first responders and their families.

Originally, Doug was very involved with his local church in the Seattle area, attending multiple times a week. However, after spending nights and weekends on duty, he was suddenly lucky to be able to attend once a month. With a demanding work schedule and atmosphere, he gradually started to unplug, and he found himself growing more and more distant from his church community and faith.

“He spiraled into a cynical place, so I was crying out to the Lord for someone to find him and meet his need,” Christine Heric, Doug’s wife, says. “So when Chris Green showed up, it really was an answer to prayer.”

In 2018, Doug met Chris, who oversees the Navigators First Responders Ministry, after Chris started talking to him about what Life-to-Life® discipleship can look like. “He would come on ride alongs with me, and he would meet me at times when church doesn’t happen,” Doug recalls. “And I saw that working in my life. It worked for me, and I wanted to do that kind of ministry for others.”

Coming alongside other first responders the way that Chris did for him, Doug joined the Navigators First Responder Ministry as an associate, meeting men while still working as an officer. After retiring from the police force in 2020 after 12 years of service, he came on full-time staff with the Navigators. Seeing the impact the ministry had in their family, Christine also joined as an associate Navigator to mentor other officers’ spouses who may be struggling. Together, they’ve been pioneering new ways to reach first responders and their families in the Seattle area and beyond.

Meeting the Unique Needs of First Responders

Starting in Seattle, Doug began to contact officers he already had connections with to share the gospel. These relationships led to video calls, meeting for coffee, and walking through Navigator resources like the Growing in Christ Bible study. Since then, his ministry has grown disciplemaking communities of first responders from coast to coast in the United States, reaching from the state of Washington to New York and Philadelphia.

A large part of the Herics’ ministry is meeting and understanding the unique needs and culture of first responders and their families. From post traumatic stress to hypervigilance to long hours with little sleep, first responders often deal with events and emotions that many can’t relate with and often misunderstand.

“They need someone to come alongside them,” Doug says. “The way that we as humans often deal with trauma is substance abuse, addictions, and other unhealthy ways of coping. So we walk with them and understand those things, and we don’t judge them for it, being aware of resources and solutions that can help.”

To build community and relationships with first responders and their families, Doug has started partnering with local churches across Seattle to host “Fellowship of Warriors” events, where dozens of first responders and their families come together to connect and hear the gospel.

“50 to 75 people show up for these events, but that includes spouses and families,” he says. “We want to make sure the families aren’t overlooked — that’s an important part of our ministry.”

Creating Generations of Impact

Doug has been able to see the Lord work firsthand in the life of one first responder whose family now regularly attends the Fellowship of Warrior events. This officer had dealt with a high profile, controversial incident that required him to have a court appearance. Doug met him during this difficult time and began to disciple him, walking him through a Bible study and memorizing Scripture together. As they continued to meet, Doug and Christine watched as the officer’s countenance and perspective transformed.

“When we first started meeting with him, his wife was hesitant because he was already gone so much,” Christine says. “But after a few weeks, even his kids would come up and say, ‘Oh good, Daddy, are you meeting with Mr. Doug again?’ They could see that he changed — he had come back to them. It was such a blessing.”

Now that officer is meeting with another man from the Fellowship of Warriors group, passing on what Doug taught him. “It’s a really encouraging story of generations, where I was meeting with John*, and John’s meeting with Roger*, and Roger is now going to be meeting with his brother,” Doug says.

Christine has also seen the impact and importance of creating support groups for spouses. One woman, Natalie*, started meeting with Christine a couple years ago. Natalie’s husband was struggling with his work as a first responder, and she was having a hard time connecting with the Lord. Christine remembered a teaching she had heard about how it takes 12 minutes every day for three weeks to create a habit, and she challenged Natalie to create a 12 minute habit of spending time with the Lord.

“At the end of the three weeks, I asked her how it went,” Chistine says. “And she said, ‘I want more than 12 minutes.’ And now spending time with the Lord is her priority, and she is working out of that overflow. When I met her, she had never really opened a Bible.”

Now, Natalie has connected with a female first responder and has started to shepherd her in her faith. “[Natalie’s] been drawing her back to the Lord and her faith, and it is like copying and pasting from the books I once read with her,” Christine says. “It’s been fun to watch her engage with others.”

Pray for the First Responders Ministry in Seattle

As Doug and Christine’s ministry continues to grow and thrive, you can come alongside them in prayer. Pray that the Lord would raise up disciplemakers to partner with them in reaching the lost among the first responders community, and that the Herics can continue to build trust and relationships with officers and their families across the United States. 

“We want to see generational discipleship, where we are making disciples who make disciples,” Doug says. “It’s a big country, and we don’t have that big of a group in the first responders ministry. The goal is to multiply, and that is our prayer.”

If you want to hear more about Doug and Christine’s ministry or come alongside them in their journey with first responders, you can visit their page here

*Names have been changed for privacy.

Discipleship Tip:

Doug and Christine are so effective at ministering to first responders and their families because they understand their unique needs from their own experience of being involved with the police force. Who are the people or communities in your life that you share distinct experiences with, and how can you meet their needs? Think about how you can grow your pre-existing connections into Life-to-Life relationships to help others know the Lord better.

 3 Ways to Help Someone Grow Spiritually

The Herics are fostering disciplemaking communities among first responders, but how can you come alongside others in your networks? Check out our resource, “3 Ways to Help Someone Grow Spiritually,” to gain some useful tips on how to help those around you grow in their relationship with Jesus!


Leave a Reply

By commenting, you agree to our Code of Conduct.