LeeVale Butler, Lt. –
Through my testimony, I get to share the light that guided me through the storms of life. I made some bad choices that separated me from my family, whom I loved very much. The most valuable thing I lost was time with my babies, who are adults now. But I thank God today for reconciling me to him and reconciling my children back to me. My session name, Messengers of Light, is fitting right now, but “living in the light” wasn’t always the case for me.
It was God’s light that brought me out of darkness, and it is that same light I will bring to others living in their darkened situation. 1 Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (NASB).
I’m moving ahead now in life. I will not let the past define who I am and where I’m going.
In 2005, I had three years clean and sober. Having just completed my substance abuse training and certification, I needed to find an internship. The school put me in contact with The Salvation Army. Who would’ve known but God that he was already lighting the path he was preparing for me?
My training at the Riverside County Adult Rehabilitation Center was challenging, hard and life-changing, but I loved every minute of it. God surrounded me with mighty, wise men to encourage me and push me to be what God had intended me to be. After completing my internship, I volunteered for a while and learned that The Salvation Army was a church, and as I began to learn about Salvation Army doctrine, the light in me grew brighter. I was soon hired as a full-time employee—the intake coordinator—and every day I witnessed God at work. I continued to remain active at the church I attended, where I completed a three-year evangelism training program. The light in me continued to grow and expand: I was so on fire that I couldn’t contain myself. My pastor/mentor, Al Breems, told me, “God is going to use you; just let him. It’s not you; it’s him.” I felt the calling to serve in a bigger capacity.
I began to learn more about officership in The Salvation Army. I knew that officership was for me, but when I asked my wife, Jennifer, her answer was always, “No” or “I’ll pray about it.” Four years passed, and during this time, God walked Jennifer through her own dark fears and uncertainties, in order to bring her further into his light. When I asked again if she was ready to move forward, she said yes.
In November 2013, Jennifer and I became soldiers at the Moreno Valley Corps, where we jumped right into the holiday season, which was the busiest thing I had ever seen. Afterward, the officer said, “Well, you made it through your first Thanksgiving and Christmas; this is just the beginning. Will you stay or is it too much?” We looked at each other and, without a doubt, we agreed to fully embrace the light of God’s grace and calling on our lives.
On August 18, 2014, we walked onto the College for Officer Training campus. I was filled with a mixture of emotions. I asked myself, what does it mean to be a Messenger of Light? I get to be a light to the world. It means I have the opportunity to bring hope to the hopeless, strength to the weak, and Jesus to the lost. I won’t just be a light, I’ll be a Messenger of light.
I would like to share a quote from Commissioner Williams Francis: “We have all the Holy Spirit we will ever need, but the question remains, does the Holy Spirit have all of you?”
This made me think that a light can only penetrate the darkness when the container is pure and transparent. I must allow God to clean me up and polish me from the inside out, so that his light can shine from me into the world around me. We are like a car’s headlight that is covered in mud. The light is there inside, but the headlight needs to be cleaned up if it is going to shine into the distance and allow the driver to reach the destination safely. This is what God has been doing in my life from the moment I invited him to live in my heart. The more I give over to his Spirit, the more he can shine through me. As I look behind me, I see God’s light that will shine to the very edges of this dark world.
In the words of William Booth, “We are not sent to minister to a congregation and be content if we keep things going. We are sent to make war and stop short of nothing but the subjugation of the world to the sway of the Lord Jesus.”