Vol 8 Issue 1


Wisdom & Wondering
Gold Net Gallery

This Issue


After Easter: Hope, and Happy Birthday!>>

The Catch of a Lifetime>>

Extended Interview with Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon>>

The Text, Webster, and Intuition>>


Another Really Big Fish Story>>

Rejoice, Hope, and Prayer>>



Easter, Hope, and “Happy Birthday!”>>

“Children, Have You Any Fish?”>>

Springtime Celebrations!>>

My Statement of Faith>>

Wisdom & Wondering

Birthday Merriment>>


Into the Sea>>

Sacred Places>>

I am going out to fish>>


Miracle in the Mountains
By Stacy Butler
Stacy is a recent graduate of Clemson University in Clemson, South Carolina, USA where she received her degree in Secondary Education for French. She is currently working in Marseille, France for the 2004-2005 school year as an American assistant in a French high school.

I have always been a Christian: I was born into a Christian family, baptized as a young baby, and was generally always surrounded by Christian friends and neighbors. I grew up going to church almost every Sunday, learning about the Bible and its’ stories during Sunday school, and enjoyed getting involved in the youth group from a young age. I have always been a "believer" and never doubted the existence of God. However, when I was about 13, I experienced a real epiphany that turned my amateur beliefs into real faith.

I grew up near New Orleans, Louisiana and attended New Covenant Presbyterian Church until my family moved to Hoover, Alabama when I was a freshman in high school. I was good friends with several other children in the church, especially my friend Meredith that I had known since pre-school.

Unfortunately, Meredith moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina in 5th grade, so it was difficult for us to see each other. One summer, right before I entered the 7th grade, I had the opportunity to visit Meredith in South Carolina by going up to Montreat, North Carolina with the high school youth group from the church. Montreat is one of the conference centers for the Presbyterian Church, USA. I was, of course, excited to see Meredith again and to go on a trip with the older teenagers.

Once we arrived in North Carolina, Meredith and her parents came to meet us in Montreat, which is about an hour or more from their home. Meredith's parents had been the youth group leaders before they left, and they were still close to several of the youth. Everyone had a great time exploring the mountains, going to church services during the Youth Conference, meeting new friends, and celebrating the life of Jesus Christ.

But something was missing. One of the former youth group members, Josh West, had passed away about a year and a half before due to tragic heart failure. He had just graduated from high school the year before and had been anxiously awaiting being a "Small Group Leader" during the summer youth conference. Montreat had been Josh's place: the place where he had met new friends and had truly realized his Faith. He claimed that Montreat was "the rock upon which my life is grounded."

Josh's sister, Allison, was on the trip with us and missed her brother immensely. We all missed Josh. He had been the fun "big brother" to me growing up at church and had spent time with Meredith and I, even though we were much younger. He was just a normal, fun, Christian teenager, but to many of us, he was so much more.

On the last Thursday night of the week, the Youth Conference had it's traditional Candlelight Service around Lake Susan. Everyone walks to and stands around the lake holding candles, passing the flame from one candle to another. Soon, the entire lake is lit up by tiny flames: enough to inspire an “epiphany.”

After the service, our church youth group went down to a certain area of the lake where the church had donated a bench in Josh's name. There is a stone and plague commemorating Josh's life. This is behind the bench. All the youth and youth group leaders placed their candles on the stone in memory of Josh.

We stood near the bench for hours: we prayed, we sang, we laughed, we cried. It really meant a lot to all of us, especially Allison, Josh's sister. After a while, all the candles had burned down to wax and had gone out. However, one candle in the center remained lit. It was Allison’s candle.

We all considered it a "sign" from God that Josh was safe and happy in Heaven. We tried to eventually blow it out since it was getting late, but the candle refused. The light would always come back. It was then that I really felt the presence of Josh, God, and the Holy Spirit; it was then that I truly found my "Faith".

Over the next five years, I returned to Montreat every summer to attend the conference as a youth, instead of a guest. The youth group goes to "Josh's bench" every year after the Candlelight Service to repeat our tradition. Every year, one stubborn candle remains lit: one year it was mine, and (silly as it sounds) I felt honored that Josh had chosen me. I have shared the story of Josh's life and of his spirit to others, and now I pass the flame to you. It is my hope that each of you will be able to experience your very own epiphany.

© 2005 Stacy Butler

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