A professor’s journey with faith and the FBI

Jayden Hoksbergen – Staff Writer

Contributed Photo

Jon Moeller, Dordt’s new instructor of criminal justice, originally wanted to pursue criminal justice as an adrenaline junkie. On a more serious note, he always held a natural desire to serve his country and community, and that became a large factor in his decision to work in criminal justice.

Moeller started off his career in criminal justice with two years of uniformed street officer work in Kansas City, Missouri. Then he went undercover in narcotics and vice for three years, dealing with ecstasy and a new strand of meth. He couldn’t tell anyone his real job, and that resulted in several arrests from the local police.

Moeller found his faith in Christ during his career in the force. One night in particular became a turning point for him.

He worked as an undercover officer in narcotics at the time. He and his snitch— someone who helped him catch drug dealers— ran into a dealer in the projects. The dealer and snitch began talking while Moeller bought some cocaine from the dealer. He noticed the dealer didn’t seem paranoid and acted careless about how much crack he gave him—Moeller got more than what he paid for. This clued Moeller in that the dealer could be placed higher up on the chain.

Moeller got the dealer’s number and called him up directly. The dealer told him he had gotten stuck at a mall with a broken-down car. Moeller went to meet him. He found the dealer in the parking lot with the car hood up. While not mechanically inclined, Moeller tinkered around and managed to get the dealer’s car started. Having gained the dealer’s favor, he asked him to hook him up with more crack.

The dealer had nothing on him, but he offered to take Moeller to the house where he stored it to hook him up. Moeller followed him, gave him his money, and waited for him outside of the house. The dealer came back with a whole brick of cocaine—about the size of a book— and broke off a piece for Moeller.

Moeller continued to buy from the dealer. Eventually he bought a large amount to gauge how much crack the dealer could come up with on short notice. They planned the meeting to happen in the back of a Korean restaurant; Moeller waited in his car.

A large part of drug culture comes from ripping people off—that’s how a dealer raises his status. As a result, anyone who’s buying has to be careful, Moeller especially so. He left his car in gear and driver’s side door open. He kept a sharp eye on his surroundings as he waited for the man his dealer would send to bring the drugs. The man showed up with a shotgun.

Maybe the man had a high and became paranoid, or maybe Moeller’s eye in the neighborhood got caught. The man pulled Moeller from the car and brought him to an apartment. Fortunately, Moeller talked his way out of the situation and returned home safely.

The next day he worked with a church he attended to replace the roof of another local church. He saw the contradictions in his life, going from nearly being shot at the night before to singing songs from Veggie Tales with people from his church. At the time he practically lived on the streets; he smelled, had dirt on his clothes, and the group of young adults working on the church didn’t know he worked as an undercover cop. He felt struck by how much they poured love into him regardless.

The group all stayed in the basement of the church overnight, but Moeller couldn’t sleep. He went and sat on the front step of the church. One of the girls in the group joined him, and she became the first person he told about his job and what that entailed.

She asked Moeller some pointed questions about his beliefs. For the first time he really started to think about his faith and his sins.

Moeller’s experience in taking down meth labs and doing cocaine busts like these enabled him to get into the FBI. He started by working cold-case homicides and street killings cases in Washington D.C. and stayed there for 10 years. In March of 2001, he switched to internet child crimes and worked cold cases on the side. By 2004, Moeller had started working gang crimes, dealing with MS-13: a violent Central American street gang. Eventually, he worked in an extraterritorial jurisdiction, which meant any violent crime in Europe and Africa that didn’t count as an act of terrorism sat in his jurisdiction.

“… we get to approach every area of the criminal justice system with eyes wide open, filled with grace, filled with Christ’s love”

-Jon Moeller

In September of 2007, Moeller moved to Northwest Iowa, where he would work for the next 13 years. While there he dealt with every violation—with the exception of any occurring on Native American reservations—for 19,000 square miles.

That night years ago sitting on the front porch of a church had a huge impact on Moeller.

“I can’t be any more grateful to her, or to that whole incident, because it completely changed the course of my life.” Moeller said, “It changed the course of my soul—where I’m going to spend eternity.”

That course has since then led him to become an instructor of criminal justice at Dordt University, where Moeller hopes to teach the next generation about making an impact and difference for the Lord.

“It’s a Christian institution, and we get to really examine what the underlying problem is, and that’s ultimately sin,” Moeller said. “More importantly, we get to approach every area of the criminal justice system with eyes wide open, filled with grace, filled with Christ’s love, but also being avengers for what is right.”

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