The Road Back to Gladstone

She was born in Lents — one of Portland's blue-collar neighborhoods on the southeast side. Both her parents were Adventists; in fact, "My mother and brother helped build the Lents Church," says Barbara Butler. That's why, beginning in 1936, she went to camp meeting every year.

But her parents got divorced. And money was tight — too tight for her to continue in Adventist schools. When she met her soon-to-be husband at Roosevelt High School in Portland, he wasn't interested in going to church on Saturday. So she dropped out of church, moved to California, raised a family, and picked up some bad habits along the way.

By 1982, Butler was ready for a change. "I was an alcoholic," she says, "but when I moved back to Portland, I gave up drinking. Then my husband gave up drinking and smoking, so I gave up smoking too. But I still didn't come back to church." Not until last year — that's when Butler decided it was time to come back to camp meeting. "I knew something had to happen," she says, "and I knew I needed God in my life. So I came here, and I felt so good. I went to all the meetings and I wasn't left sitting by myself. Three women who were camped by me — Kathleen from Salem, Vida from Gladstone, and Mary from Pleasant Valley — were right there with me all the time. That helped a lot."

Following camp meeting, Butler began attending the Lents (Ore.) Adventist Church, where she was baptized by Pat Milligan, pastor, on March 14, 2009. "Our pastor is something else," she says. "He was a big help to me."

Barbara was back at camp meeting this year — and not only that, but she worked as a volunteer. She says, "I'm just happy to be out here. That's what we all need to do: be happy, don't get mad, just look around at what God made for us. God is so awesome," she adds. "Everybody ought to know that."

October 01, 2009 / Oregon Conference
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By Greg Brothers, Lincoln City Church pastor