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Aug10WedA car accident helped Renee Butler find God again. August 10, 2016 by Diane Stark
Renee Butler was driving to work when she heard a loud crash, followed by shattered glass raining down around her. The sunroof on her car had exploded above her head. Somehow, she was able to keep control and pull off the highway. Renee was shaken, but grateful she wasn't seriously injured.
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- Faith & Friends
A week after the accident, though, Renee began having neck pain and went to see a chiropractor and a massage therapist. The massage therapist was a Christian, and he loved to talk about his faith.
Renee had been raised in a Christian home, but she'd been away from her faith for several years. She would soon discover how God used the accident to draw her back to Himself.
Renee grew up in Foxtrap, N.L. “The church had lots of children who participated in Sunday school,” she recalls. “They also had Sunday evening services that would sometimes last for hours. As a little girl, I used to fall asleep on my mom's shoulder when the service was long, but I loved it!”
One evening, when Renee was six, she was at the Sunday evening service with her Aunt Bernice. In spite of the hour, the little girl was wide awake.
“I turned to Aunt Bernice and said, 'Is it too late for me to go up to the altar? I really want God in my heart.' Aunt Bernice took me by the hand and we went to the altar to pray together.”
But as Renee got older, she drifted away from God. “I got involved with sports and other activities that kept me busy, and I stopped making church a priority in my life,” she explains. “I still loved God, but I allowed Him to fade into the background.”
Helping to Remember
Renee began dating and entered into a long-term relationship. “I really didn't think this relationship fit into God's plan for me, but I kept trying to make it work,” she says. “When it finally ended, I felt like a failure. But I believed God had a better plan for me. That's what helped me through.”
Not long after, Renee's car accident happened. “The massage therapist who helped me through my neck injury was raised in the same denomination I was,” Renee says, “and every time he told a story, it brought back all of the things I'd learned in church when I was younger. I realized that although I hadn't put God first in my life for many years, He wasn't angry with me—and He hadn't forgotten me.”
As Renee's massage therapist shared stories of visiting the Holy Land and invited her to become part of his online prayer group, she felt inspired to pray on a more regular basis. “God used my interactions with the massage therapist to call me back,” Renee says. “He helped me to remember God's love and faithfulness.”
In 2002, Renee attended a barbecue with some friends and family. Her brother had hired a carpenter named Randy to do some work on his home, and a mutual friend brought Randy along. Renee enjoyed meeting him, but both Randy and Renee were dating other people.
A year later, Randy asked her out to a movie and everything just fell into place. “We've been inseparable since that night,” Renee smiles. “I realized that God was preparing each of us for a better relationship. Randy is a wonderful man—further proof that God never forgot me.”
The couple married in June 2004 and have two daughters, Madison, 11, and nine-year-old Mackenzie.
Five years ago, Renee began taking her daughters to the Pioneer Club children's ministry at The Salvation Army's Conception Bay South church in Newfoundland and Labrador. “I started to notice how many great things were going on at that church,” she says. “I always felt welcome there, so we started attending Sunday services, too.”
Renee now plays an active role in the church, including the Pioneer Club, Sunday school and the Army's annual junior music camp. “I love helping children find their faith,” she says. “And if we don't lead them to God, someone else might lead them in a different direction.”
The Butlers own a construction company. “Randy builds the houses and I work as the office manager and bookkeeper,” Renee says. “This job has allowed me to stay at home with my daughters, which has been an answer to prayer. I feel so blessed to be able to spend so much time with them.”
Since returning to her faith, Renee has experienced new hope. “Or maybe it's the old hope that just came back,” she smiles. “I have a greater sense that God is in control, and that has given me peace.”
(Photos: Courtesy the Butler family)