On any given Sunday amidst the halls of Westside Kids, you will see groups of parents hauling their darling littles to their classrooms. Sometimes their arrival is hesitant and timid or overwhelmed by the effort it took to clothe and load their children all the way here. Regardless of the state of these Westside families, there is a beautiful constant that is always there to meet them at the nursery counter. That constant is the kind, smiling face of Jerry Butler.
Jerry Butler has served faithfully in the nursery at Westside Church for 22 years. Prior to moving to Bend he served at other churches too which means that he has been rocking fussy babies, blowing bubbles, and changing diapers in the name of Jesus for a total of 40 plus years. Jerry knew early on while raising his own 4 kids with his sweet wife Judy, that God had gifted him with a capacity to care for kids in a unique, anointed way. As he neared the end of his 27 year career as a Deputy Marshall, he started to think what might be the next steps in life for him. Having found no “scriptural basis for retirement,” Jerry says, he knew that God wanted to continue to use him. Inspired by the words of Mark 9:36 that says, “Anyone who welcomes a little child on my behalf welcomes me…” Jerry chose to say, “yes,” to serving. This seemingly small opportunity has allowed him to impact more families and children than he could have imagined.
“It is my hope that the kids I serve will have love as the first and lasting impression of church and God, both now and forever. That is the reason that I am willing to give of myself. And of course, I also love what I do,” says Jerry, “The most rewarding part is that love is reciprocal.” It’s with every consoled baby, reassured parent, wiped runny nose, and hearty hug that Jerry is slowly sowing seeds that will reap a Godly harvest in the next generation. The gentle, patient and sincere way that Jerry serves Westside families opens the door for these kids to experience God’s love in a tangible way.
Story after story unfolds of new parents or children being disarmed and welcomed in by the humble and open arms of Jerry. Brittney Scheer, a parent of two little girls, shared her heart for the way that Jerry has served their family. “There is one constant name that comes up when families talk about kids church and that name is Jerry. Everyone gushes about Jerry and talks about what an impact he has had on their children’s lives….Jerry has an incredible gift of what we can only describe as incomprehensible patience. His love of children is evident from the moment he sees them coming through the doors…He becomes family to everyone. We have one more daughter on the way and we are so excited for her to meet “Uncle Jerry” and fall in love with him like Millie and MacKenzie did. Westside is so lucky to have him!”
“We love Jerry so much,” says Dani Nichols, another Westside parent. “Our daughter Adelay was so nervous to go to childcare and he made such a difference, by caring about her, knowing her needs and making her feel so loved. Now she asks to “go to Jerry” when we get to church. We feel so honored to have his consistent, kind presence in our lives.” How can one man make such a difference? The truth is, walking in the calling that God has chosen for you, is meant to change the world.
The impact of Jerry’s service goes beyond the genuine way that he loves and cares for Westside’s little ones. He and his team of volunteers allow parents the freedom to engage in the presence of Jesus and to be refreshed. This time prayerfully allows these often weary ones to walk away more fully filled with the Spirit and ready to be the parents and people God has called them to be. What began as a simple invitation to serve the Lord by holding babies has unfolded into a remarkable legacy. If you know Jerry, you know he would be the first one to shrug off any admiration for the faithful ways that he serves. And yet, his faithfulness is a stunning example of a humble life surrendered to Jesus. Jerry’s story reminds us that sometimes our humble “yes,” when anointed, will impact lives beyond our reach.
Written By: Jenna Anderson || Photos by: David Metcalf