By the time Carman Locke was 10 years old, he knew two things for sure: “I wanted to be a policeman” and “I knew that Jesus was what I needed in my life.”
1959 was a big year for little Carman. After his first double-digit birthday, his family moved to the remote northern community of Timmins, Ontario. One day in his new Grade 5 classroom, two Gideon gentlemen visited and handed young Carman a small New Testament.
“I still have it to this day,” he recalls fondly. “I signed the front page in October and near the end of November, I signed the last page, giving my heart to the Lord.”
“When I signed that New Testament, I believe I knew Jesus was what I wanted. But as I grew older, I did a whole lot of stuff nobody would ever be proud of.”
It would take a brush with death to return Carman to his childhood commitment to Christ.
A Rookie’s Worst Nightmare
Despite his mom’s adamant protests to his dream of becoming a policeman, Carman was determined. But one terrifying night early in Carman’s career changed his life forever.
“In 1976 I was working a night shift when I heard three rifle shots. So I went to investigate.”
Parking his cruiser on a dark street, Carman looked up to see a man leaning out of an upstairs window holding a rifle—aimed right at Carman’s station wagon! Heart bursting with fear and adrenaline, the rookie cop crouched down just as a bullet pierced through the rear window. Blasting through the passenger’s headrest, the tiny torpedo dropped to the seat. Right beside a stunned Carman.
Even after four decades, Carman’s eyes brim with tears and his chin quivers as he relives the night that nearly cost him his life.
Each word is heavy: “It was only by God’s grace that the bullet didn’t hit me. That night, every cruiser was supposed to have two men. But one of the officers on beat had called in sick and my partner was sent to replace him. One of us could have been killed.”
A Double Rescue
But the story gets better. After a preliminary hearing, the shooter was sentenced to psychiatric evaluation in North Bay. “Totally against normal operating procedure, I got a phone call asking if I wanted to do the escort with another officer. For the extra money, I thought, Sure, why not?”
Two hours into the journey from Timmins to North Bay, the man who’d nearly put a bullet through Carman’s head cleared his throat and said, “I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to hurt you.”
“And I turned to him and said, “Ernie, I forgive you.’”
During the next eight months, both Ernie and Carman gave their hearts to the Lord. Both men were in need of rescue. Both men needed a loving Saviour.
Today, Carman and Ernie are coworkers for Christ. The former felon is now a local pastor, and the former police offer has visited his friend’s church to play on a worship team and speak at events. “And last week, I invited Ernie to speak at my church’s food bank. I’ll be cooking the food, and he’ll preach the gospel and share his testimony.” Only God could’ve planned such a dynamic duo.
More than a Cop
God gave Carman a new dream—even bigger than his childhood wish of being a police officer.
“I believe that my biggest purpose in life is helping people to come to the saving grace of Jesus Christ.”
After surrendering his life to Jesus, Carman was blessed with several spiritual mentors, one of whom was a Gideon. “I so admired that man,” says Carman. “I wanted to be like him.”
“And being a Gideon was one of the top things I could be as a Christian—to hand out Scriptures and to see people come to the Lord—because I knew what impact it had on me, even as a 10-year-old.”
Now that Carman’s been a Gideon member for 10 years, he can say with confidence that, “Getting the Word of God into people’s hands makes a massive difference in this world. We're at the forefront of the fight for people’s souls.”
A New Dream for the Next Generation
Even though he’s retired as a cop, Carman isn’t slowing down. “I try not to seem like an old person,” he admits. “I reach out to teenagers and to people my own age. I can stumble through playing bass and six-string guitar.”
One teenager in particular has captured Carman’s heart—his granddaughter. Over time, she saw the faith her Grandpa and Grandma had in Jesus. So she asked to come to church with them two years ago. “Driving her home after church one day, I was able to lead her to the Lord,” Carman says with tears of joy.
Since then, Carman’s granddaughter has been enthusiastic about sharing Gospels of John (supplied by Grandpa) with her friends and family. “It’s exciting to share what my granddaughter is doing—to work with her and to help her,” explains Carman. “It strengthens my faith. At times when I feel down, I look at my granddaughter and it gives me hope.”