Posted by: Caleb Butler | December 7, 2009

December Newsletter

Dear Family & Friends,

The holiday season is a wonderfully cheerful time.  The music, gifts, and family gatherings lift our spirits.  We enjoy the time off work or school.  We savor the taste of chocolate from those Advent Calendars, knowing we are one day closer to Christmas!  And for those of us who attempt to put the importance on the real meaning of Christmas, we take extra delight in our soul by remembering the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  The holiday season truly is a splendid time of year … for you and me.

For those living on the streets, this time of year can be especially difficult.  As they see others shopping and caroling, they are reminded of all they do not have.  There is little to celebrate.  Most of our homeless guests will not visit family or have a warm household to gather in on Christmas Eve.  Christmas Day will most likely be just like any other day, with the exception of a large meal at the local shelters.  Some will drink the pain away, some will take drugs to escape into another world, and others will simply accept the depression.  That’s the sad reality.

Please pray for the homeless guests at Jefferson Street Baptist Center.  With the season of Advent on our minds, we want to point the guests to the miraculous birth of Christ, the one eternal hope in this world.  Pray that in their shortage of possessions, they discover the free gift of salvation.

In contrast to the hopeless attitude I discussed, I see a genuine faith and hope growing within many of the residents at JSBC.  Some will be celebrating their first Christmas in years as a sober, clean man.  They can exclaim, “Thanks be to God that, though [we] used to be slaves to sin … [We] have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).  I am humbled and thankful to share in the spirit of celebration alongside these men.

Witnessing either the bondage or freedom in the lives of so many each day, I am constantly stretched by God to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15).  When you are a slave to sin, the chains are not easy to break.    One of our residents recently decided to voluntarily leave JSBC and the Fresh Start program. He up and left, running back into a slavery of sin.  We had built a solid friendship in his time here; it was hard for me to see him go.  Although, he visited the other day with some hope of returning to the program.  I asked him why he left, hoping to express my deep concern.  He knew it was wrong and felt like he let me down.  He continues to live in sin, desiring to be set free but unwilling to give up his old life.  Please pray for my friend to repent and come back to Christ.  Also, please pray for God to grow more compassion within my heart to sincerely “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”

On a related note, I am slowly but surely building a relationship with a resident who needs community in his life, people who will encourage and uplift.  He keeps to himself for the most part; I think this holiday season is weighing heavy on his heart.  I asked if he would like to do a weekly Bible study, and he agreed.  We don’t know each other very well yet, and I don’t know what to expect.  All I know is that he has agreed to meet with me and talk about God – and that’s pretty cool.  Please pray for this relationship, for the Spirit to move, for me to have courage, and for my friend’s eyes to open to the love, forgiveness, and transforming power of Christ.

This Christmas season, where do you find yourself in comparison to these stories?  Drugs and alcohol are the big bad sin-slave drivers, and they are easy to identify and hate.  However, we can easily become enslaved to greed, work, laziness, gluttony, and so much more.  What’s driving you?  What’s holding onto you with a grip that seems stronger than Goliath?  Can you honestly say you are free in Christ, or do you offer yourself to obey something other than Him?

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After seeing a brief picture of what life has been like for me at JSBC, please know that you have helped make this ministry possible.  Your prayers are what keep us going.  Your financial support and donations allow us to meet physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of the homeless.  I am endlessly grateful for your support.  Have a wonderful Christmas season.

“May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends.  Oh, yes!” (Galatians 6:18 in the Message)

In Christ,

Caleb Butler

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