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Communication is key. In some situations it may be the difference between life and death. A lot of times our communication with people is best when it comes from the depths of our own souls whether it be pain or pleasure, failure or success, sadness or joy, faith or disappointment. We do best in communicating with others when we have experienced that moment, story, or event. We can relate better. We can feel what the other people feel, and that moment is the best connection we might have to help, encourage, empathize, and relate.

Lt. Jack Cambria has spent more than a decade talking people down from the ledge. Until his retirement in 2015, he was the commanding officer of the NYPD's hostage negotiation team for over 33 years. During his career he became an expert at saving fellow cops from armed criminals or dissuading people to not jump off New York City's skyscrapers or bridges.

What's the secret to success as a hostage negotiator? Cambria says, "The very good negotiators, I think, are the ones with the life stories"—particularly, he would add, life stories of pain that have produced compassion for others. Cambria claims, "[Good negotiators must] experience the emotion of love at one point in their life, to know what it means to have been hurt in love at one point in their life, to know success and perhaps, most important, to know what it means to know failure."

He learned this lesson during his first day as a police officer. Cambria admitted that he had his "own baggage about the homeless, they were violent, they were dirty, they were mentally ill." Then one day, he had to confront a homeless fare beater and searched his satchel. Inside wasn't a weapon but a manuscript of a play titled "Crabs in a Basket," a metaphor for the man, of his struggle to crawl out of the hole he was in.

"In that two-minute space of time, he had transposed himself from a homeless guy—my baggage—to a playwright," he recalled. That compassion has led colleagues to refer to him as "Gentleman Jack," whose guiding principle is to just get the suspects talking. (Pervaiz Shallwani, "Life Lessons From the NYPDs Top Hostage Negotiator," The Wall Street Journal (8-28-15)).

To add more to the importance of communicating and connecting with other, the Bible tells us that we have an amazing communicator, Jesus Christ, full with empathy and care. In Hebrews 4:15 it says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." And in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul closes the circle: from Christ to us to others. "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

May our personal life experience bless others especially when they need it most!

Pastor Ion

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