On February 15, Officer Mark Kidd took the day off from his regular beat to celebrate his 15th wedding anniversary with his wife and children.
Little did Mark know his day off would go down in history as an active shooter situation resulted in five employees killed, several officers wounded, and another community changed forever.
But even in this tragedy, God’s faithfulness shined through in an unexpected way.
You see, Mark and his wife let their children decide where they would celebrate with a dinner out. And of course, they chose the local pizza fun center.
As closing time neared and the family was still celebrating, Mark worried management would hurry them along, eager to finish a long shift.
But the manager was perfectly happy to allow his family to continue their time and even struck up a conversation.
The manager revealed some of his struggles, including his frustration in not having better employment opportunities.
The manager felt that his job at the pizza restaurant was in some ways a “downgrade,” but that he’d found a surprising joy, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose even there.
As his family finished up, Mark and the manager discussed what serving others and having a servant’s heart meant. Mark shared that he was a police officer and out of obedience to God, he approached his job with a willingness to serve.
The two men went on to discuss how having the right attitude, motivation, and selflessness is necessary for serving.
Neither of them knew the acts of service God would call them to the very next day.
As the news of an active shooter in Aurora, IL began to ring out around the nation, Aurora police officers and multiple agencies began to respond to the call.
Officer Mark Kidd was one of those officers.
His wife and children watched the news broadcast in dismay, realizing the seriousness of the event that was unfolding. They knew their husband and father could have been one of those first responders if he hadn’t taken the day off.
Still, it was all-hands-on-deck at the station and Mark’s family reluctantly hugged their husband and father and said goodbye as he left to help.
Off he went into the unknown abyss of an active shooter.
Thoughts of evil swirled in the car ride to the station. Why would God allow this?
When Mark walked out of his home that day, he left knowing his family may never see him again. The shooter was still alive and the situation ongoing. Several of his fellow officers had been injured in the line of fire.
However, when he arrived at the police department, his commanding officer would send him to another location – the shooter’s home. For ten hours, Mark directed the scene – multiple agencies, bomb squad, clearing residents, onlookers, and the media.
Mark was cold, hungry, tired, and overwhelmed. However, being anywhere else was not an option and Mark served faithfully.
Then, a deputy arrived with pizza in hand for the officers on site. The logo on the pizza box was familiar.
Mark had no idea, but as he served at the shooter’s home, the pizza place from the night before had become command central.
The manager Mark had spoken with in-depth about what it meant to serve the night before was now serving all the law enforcement agencies as they managed the response to the active shooter.
Mark was astounded. The seed of a Servant’s Heart that Mark had planted was sprouting and growing forth. God had thrust both of them into positions of service.
“It was almost as if God knew what He was doing,” Officer Kidd says.
God took worldly men and turned them into servants. Individuals who typically shun serving others now prioritized the needs of others over their own.
Mark, believers, and non-believers were all living out John 15:13 (KJV), “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” during this tragedy.
On the day of this active shooter event, Officer Mark Kidd – like so many other officers – risked their lives for their friends, strangers, co-workers, and family members and stepped into the line of fire.
And others in the community, like the pizza restaurant managers, served as well.
Mark 10:45 tells us the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. Right at the center of such a horrible act, God was covertly unfolding His purpose through His unassuming and willing servants.
Servants like Mark Kidd, who never had a second thought about running into the line of fire.
Numerous times, Mark discusses an unexplainable compelling feeling to go and help those in need.
“This is the part of my job I would do for free,” Mark says.
He gives honor to God for the events that day. He knows he did nothing on his own. God orchestrated him not being at work that day, but also used his willingness to serve to place him at the right location.
John 12:16 (KJV), “If any man serves me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serves me, him will my Father honour.”
For those who asked where God was in this tragedy, He was there in the hearts of every man and woman who served.