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(Video by Esteban Pommier, Warsaw Salvation Army Commanding Officer)
Looking at the charred, dilapidated house located at 423 E. Arthur St., Warsaw, it is hard to believe that a story of hope and redemption began just across the street. For Lynn Butts though, crossing the street to the Salvation Army led her to a pathway of hope that ultimately changed her life, and the lives of others, for the better.
It was just after Thanksgiving that Lynn Butts seemingly lost it all. At 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 29, 2013, a fire was reported by a resident of the apartment building she lived in along with her family. Winona Lake Fire Department was called shortly after the fire broke out for a full-assist after Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory arrived on scene to the blaze. Though additional manpower was called for from Plain Township/Leesburg Fire Department, as well as a tanker from Pierceton Fire Department, the building was a complete loss. For Lynn Butts, the loss of her home was only the beginning of part of a series of events that would change her life.
While others were looking forward to Christmas and enjoying the warmth of home, Lynn was struggling with homelessness.
“At that time I was staying in a hotel. My daughter had had her baby. It really wasn’t a Christmas,” explained Butts. “I was anticipating jail and trying to spend time with my granddaughter.”
On July 14, 2013, Butts attended church at the Salvation Army, which stood just across the street from her now destroyed residence. Though Butts arrived at the church, she admits that due to drugs, she wasn’t able to absorb the message given that day. However that visit to the Salvation Army began Butts on a pathway to a better life — even if she didn’t know it at the time.
“God gave me my pre-op that Sunday,” stated Butts with a smile. “That following Thursday I was arrested. God was my surgeon.”
Butts was eventually charged with dealing in a schedule II controlled substance in June of 2013. On Jan. 2, 2014, Butts was sentenced to six years with all but one year suspended, which was served on work release.
In jail, Butts explained her relationship with God and budding relationships with those at the Salvation Army began to stir a change in her heart. Likening God as her surgeon, the negative influences that once poisoned her life began to fade away and hope — specifically a “Pathway of Hope” — emerged for Butts. Visited often by workers with the Salvation Army, Butts transformation began while in jail, leading her to seek out The Salvation Army’s assistance at changing her life upon her release.
“There was a sign outside of that house where we got arrested and where the drugs were that was “alley closed” — and that was how my life was. In the confines of that house my life was a closed alley. I didn’t have a way out — I didn’t see a way out because drugs took me over. I was near death… I could have died, but God said I had something else to do.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part two of Lynn Butts’ amazing transformation through the Pathway of Hope program with the Salvation Army will be published tomorrow on InkFreeNews.com.]