BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It was a hero's welcome for about a dozen law enforcement officers as they marched their way to the front of New Life Church for a special recognition by more than 100 children.
The children gathered around the altar Wednesday evening during Vacation Bible School to lay hands on the officers as the church's senior pastor prayed for their protection.
"It will give them hope that what's been going on won't happen to them, and they know that He would protect them," said Colby Wilson.
New Life Family Church youth pastor Jeremy Ulmer says he felt VBS was an appropriate setting to teach youth the importance of respecting those in the community who wear badges.
"We want to give kids proper prospective on who our law enforcement are. We want them to know their role. That they are there to protect and serve them, and that as they protect and serve us, we believe we have a God that's big enough to protect and serve our officers as they serve," said Ulmer.
Throughout the week, the children wrote thank you cards for the officers and presented them during the service.
"Some of them say good luck, and then others are heartfelt depending on the age, but really just to let the police officers know when there's been so much negative coverage that there's some folks that are behind them and there's a group of kids that are ultimately praying for them," added Ulmer.
The past couple of weeks have been especially hard for law enforcement and their loved ones all over the country, which is why Harrison County Sheriff's Deputy Christina Walters says it means so much to feel appreciated.
"It's admirable that the kids want to think about us and they want to pray about us and they think about us when a lot of kids and a lot of people don't," noted Walters. "It's like I said, very admirable and honorable that they want to pray for us and it makes me feel very blessed."
The officers also shared ice cream with the kids after service.