Posted by: Caleb Butler | November 2, 2009

November Newsletter

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from Louisville, Kentucky!  I am thankful for your decision to support me, and I hope you enjoy a wonderful Thanksgiving season with family and friends.  May we all remember the many blessings in life for which we should be thankful.

After two months at the Jefferson Street Baptist Center (JSBC), I have so many stories and experiences I want to share.  God is moving in incredible, unbelievable ways; I am thankful to be a tiny part of His work here.  I am realizing a little bit more each day what life is like as a missionary.  It is not that I am bringing God to these people, but I am helping them realize that God has been right here all along.

Honestly, I feel inadequate in many situations.  I am only an eighteen year old kid after all.  Young, inexperienced, and unable to empathize with these men’s stories, what can I offer?  When I let myself believe this, however, God quickly reminds me that He is in charge, and He will guide my steps and my words.  Jeremiah chapter one deeply convicts me of this truth.  Talking with Tony helps too.

I will never forget the first time I met Tony – in the storage closet of the Day Shelter.  With a cup of coffee glued to his hand, he calmly strolled to the doorway and said hello.  After a short exchange of small talk, Tony spilled out the contents of his life, not without jokes and silly sayings, of course.  He shared of his shameful past of alcoholism, his current situation and how God is working on him through the Fresh Start program at JSBC, and his future plans in the ministry.  As he walked away, I sat staring into the distance, stupefied yet encouraged.

Fast forward about fifty days, Tony and I are sitting in a coffee shop discussing how he can write to his family.  Years of drinking have pushed Tony away from his parents and siblings.  Bridges have burned, walls were built.  Tony desperately wants to make amends; his heart aches for these relationships to be restored.  His first draft of this letter included multiple sheets of paper spelling out his wrongdoings, shortcomings, and feelings of remorse.  It was all he wrote about.  He seemed to dwell on it to an unhealthy extent.

But Tony gets it.  He sees exactly how his sinful nature has made a mess of things, of everything.  As Father Daniélou says, “It is the saints who have a sense of sin.  The sense of sin is the measure of a soul’s awareness of God.”  How I long for a deeper sense of my sin – to see more clearly its effects on others and on God!

After completing the final draft of Tony’s letter to his family, we prayed over it.  We asked God to use this letter to bring reconciliation to the family.  We asked God to flex his muscles and do the unthinkable: change bitter hearts into loving ones, allow love to overcome hate.  And we prayed for Tony to praise God through it all, even if God does not bring the change we want.  Opening our eyes from this heartfelt prayer, Tony exclaimed, “I think that might have been the best conversation I have ever had with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  Tony gets it, and he is helping me to see it: my need for God because of man’s sinful nature.

Through this relationship and many others, God is showing me that He is doing the real work here.  I am only a kid; I feel weak and incapable.  But God reminds me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”  (2 Cor. 12:19).

Reading this short excerpt, I hope you are encouraged to realize you have helped make this ministry experience possible.  Please continue to pray for the entire Hope Team as we seek God’s direction each day and as we grow closer in community with one another.  Please pray for the staff of JSBC and for the guests and residents.  Your prayers are graciously welcomed – they are what keep me going.

None of this is possible without the support of my family and friends.  Thank you so much!  You are just as much a part of the ministry at Jefferson Street Baptist Center as I am.   Once again, I say thank you.

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