Story Saturday- Jesse and Kate

Dear Christ Church,

Tomorrow marks a bittersweet day for our church.  It will be bitter as we say goodbye to our dear friends Jesse and Kate Butch.  Not many people who leave the church get a blog post written about them, but I felt compelled to write about Jesse and Kate for two reasons.

First, they are a unique part of our history.  Kate was part of the original church plant team.  She and I weren’t particularly close, but she felt a clear call from God that He wanted her to come be part of this mission in the city.  Little did she know when she moved over that God was also moving on a young man’s heart.  Jesse was a staunch atheist who had written off religion.  However, through the faithful witnessing of his boss, he eventually found his way to our church.  Through a process of asking a lot of questions and diligently searching for the truth, God opened Jesse’s heart to Jesus Christ and Jesse became the first person we had the privilege of baptizing in our new church plant.   

Fast forward about a year and Jesse told me that he was interested in Kate.  Now I wasn’t surprised because Kate is a beautiful young woman both inside and out.  However, I was surprised that Kate returned his interest.  Don’t get me wrong, Jesse is a good looking guy and was showing tremendous growth as a young man of God.  However, Kate had made it clear that she had very high standards and felt in no rush to pursue a relationship.  When the right person comes along though…  It was my great joy to watch their relationship unfold as they pursued each other and Christ in godly ways.  I can be a little protective, but as I watched Jesse care for Kate during several flares of her migraines, he convinced me that he was in it for the long haul.  It was such a joy to be asked to officiate their wedding and now to watch them grow together as a married couple serving Jesus.

This brings me to the second reason that I want to write about Jesse and Kate.  As you know, Kate has had a huge ministry in our neighborhood reaching out to underprivileged children.  Her home has become known as a haven for hurting kids and she has opened doors for our church to be able to reach out to some of them as well.  So why are they leaving?  They are moving back to NJ to be closer to Jesse’s family, due to his father’s failing health.  Also, Jesse has a wide network of friends in that area and he has had a growing sense that God wants him to go back and tell his friends and family about Jesus, since he is the only Christian that they know.  As Jesse told me during one of our many conversations, “I feel like I can’t hold on to all that I’ve been given by God and taught through Christ Church.  I want to go back to my neighborhood and bring what God has done in my life to others, so that God can work in their lives as well.” Here are some excerpts of Kate’s answer as to why she felt that God wanted them to go to Jesse’s hometown.

I repeatedly have thought about the man in Luke 8 who was healed. The man who wanted to "go" but was told to return to his home and tell all that Jesus had done for him. I can't help but wonder if Jesse isn't supposed to stay, but to return home and tell all that Jesus has done for him. It is so hard to think about leaving neighbors who have become friends, and the kids who I've become so deeply connected to. But I also understand (though I have to remind myself daily) that God loves and cares for these people far beyond what I ever could. I think that I need to trust him enough to be where he wants be to be and not tell him where I actually think I'm needed - how he got this one wrong.

I have always had trouble with confidently saying where I have been called. I just think people are fickle and far too ready to rely on their feelings. I remember the advice you gave me when you said, “If you can read in God's word and what you feel called to contradicts clear direction, you have not been called.” I think that has been helpful advice. I am so connected to this area. But despite my feelings, I don't think God's word supports a united husband and wife having two different missions, or a wife who usurps her husband's headship to make her own choice. I believe that Jesse has pursued God in this decision. He has asked me for my input and I have given it to him. It's been a year of discussions. We've talked to Sam and Deb, Zoe and Dante as well as you and Angie. I've seen him take the input and consider it and ask me what I think. Through all this I genuinely believe that Jesse has pursued God's headship and so now, I want to be the reinforcement that he needs. I want to lift him up and support him and encourage him and keep him on the path he's been called to, because that’s what God’s word clearly calls me to do.

Not every person that leaves is going to get a blog post.  But I felt that I couldn’t let the example of Jesse and Kate just go without drawing your attention to God’s work in them.  Friends, these are the kind of people that we want to be.  We want to be people who don’t tell God what to do, but submit ourselves to him and what he wants us to do.  We want to be people who aren’t living based out of what we want, but the mission that God has for us.  We want to be people who intentionally think through life decisions, humbly ask for input and prayerfully consider God’s will.  

It is bitter to see them go, but it is sweet to see how they want to follow Jesus.  Please keep the Butches in your prayers.  

Jesse and Kate, you will always be part of our family here.

Grace and peace,

Pastor Jeff

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