Posted by: Caleb Butler | February 13, 2010

Caleb’s February Newsletter

Family & Friends,

Greetings!  I write to you once again and am reminded of the faithful prayer and support I receive from you all.  It is beyond encouraging; it is life-sustaining.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I could not do this without you.  My entire experience in Louisville and at the Jefferson Street Baptist Center is a gift from God, a truth I am coming to realize more and more each month.

However, this gift is often challenging and heart-wrenching.  In the past month, we have seen a handful of residents walk away from the program.  For one reason or another, these men let their addictions get the better of them.  It is always difficult to see a dear friend leave an environment of Christian community, accountability, and encouragement in which he can find true transformation of heart and mind.  Around the same time that these men were leaving, JSBC received a large financial donation from a local church.  We were all witnesses to spiritual warfare, as God’s blessings and the devil’s attacks came simultaneously.  Needless to say but a good reminder, JSBC needs your prayers.  It needs my prayers.  May we faithfully ask God to be seen at work in our lives and in the lives of the homeless and poor.

I often reflect on my time in Chicago with the youth group.  It was the summer of 2006.  We stayed one week in a church that was actively involved in ministering to the homeless.  The church was only supposed to serve dinner one night of the week, but our youth group served three nights that week because we wanted our homeless friends to keep coming back!  We also took carloads of sandwiches to Lower Wacker, a notorious underground community of homeless men and women in Chicago.  It was my first genuine encounter with homelessness.  God used the weeklong mission trip to change lives in our youth group; I just had no idea how radically He would use it to change mine.

I will never forget meeting Del.  I went to Lower Wacker the first night while others stayed at the church to serve dinner.  When I got back that night everyone was saying, “You have to meet him!  He’s so sweet.”  Indeed he was, beaming with life, always smiling, talking, and laughing.  Our youth group fell in love with Del.  Our hearts were broken by his story, a Gulf War veteran who returned with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which quickly ended his marriage and forced him into homelessness.  PTSD also caused Del to stutter badly, but even though his voice wavered, he didn’t waver in his faith in God.  The second night I made it a point to sit by him at dinner.  We talked for about fifteen minutes, and I especially remember him saying in all seriousness, “What does Bible stand for? Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”  Little did I know, those fifteen minutes would forever change my life.  It’s funny how God works.

You know where the story is three and a half years later, or I wouldn’t be writing this to you.  I never expected to spend a year serving the homeless, but God put a humble man named Del in my path.  Maybe years later I will run into one of our homeless guests at JSBC in a different setting.  He will tell me how he gave his life to God and how things have been so different since.  I will ask him what caused all of it and he will say, “It was a fifteen minute conversation you and I had over lunch one day.”  Maybe.  Maybe not, but I am still called to be faithful in loving my neighbors and to expect God to work.

May we faithfully look for opportunities to love the least of these, whether it be an exhausted coworker, a lonely next door neighbor, or an impoverished addict.  May we faithfully pray for open eyes and a pliable heart.  God has a sense of humor; He may surprise you.


“And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating – to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes!” (Jude 24-25, The Message)

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Responses

  1. Hey Caleb,
    Great stuff. You just never know where God is going to take us or put in your path on your journey. Mark and I never imagined that Shadow Beatty would come into our lives and that he would become our son. We can’t say that it has been easy always. We love him very much.
    We just want to thank you for the time you give him. He talks about you alot. It makes a big difference having a christian young man in his life.
    Hope to meet you soon. Mark and Joan Smalley


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