By Michael Smith,
Contributing Writer, B&R
NASHVILLE — Josh and Katie Butler’s story of heartbreak and hope was featured on a recent episode of the “American Ninja Warrior” (ANW) television show.
According to their pastor, the Butlers are “a typical young millennial family who has faced an atypical life situation over the past two years.”
The couple’s first child, Josh Dewey Butler IV, was born in May 2015 with a rare genetic disorder that made it hard for him to breathe and eat. Dewey died at Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, 132 days after he was born.
“There’s no other way to describe our time with Dewey — before he was born, during his life, and after he died — other than as spiritual warfare,” Josh told the “Today” show in August. “We had so many people praying for us, that God would heal Dewey and that God would encourage us to remain strong and fight for Dewey’s life.
“We were thinking, ‘We’re good, normal people! Why are we the ones who have a sick baby? Why are we the ones whose baby died? Is this really happening?’ But God was with us the whole time — good and bad. He knew that — for us — we needed another child to help us move toward healing.”
Following Dewey’s death, a nurse told the couple about another baby at the hospital with similar medical issues as Dewey who had been “deserted by his family,” Josh said. The couple fostered and adopted the baby boy, Braxtel, who turned 3 on Dec. 1.
“We can’t emphasize enough that we are just normal people,” Josh said. “We feel that any other believer, put in the same situation we were in with the loss of our son, would have gladly welcomed an orphan in his or her home.”
As Josh was taping his appearance on “ANW” he and Katie also were fostering five other children. They now have a sibling group of three kids whom they hope to adopt soon. Their prayer is that the paperwork is filed correctly and quickly so that they can get a court date scheduled for the adoption.
“We hope that our small part on ‘ANW’ is part of a growing conversation among believers and nonbelievers on the necessity and privilege of participating in orphan care,” said Josh, who works as a bus driver at Preston Taylor Ministries in Nashville.
Butler enjoyed his time on the show and plans to try out again.
“[It] was so much fun,” he said. “The other competitors and all of the ‘ANW’ staff are so encouraging and supportive. It was a surprise to me how many Christians there are in the ‘ANW’ community. I want to compete again. I haven’t started filming my audition video yet, but I have some ideas. I want to share more of our story, of how God is still caring for our growing family.”
The Butlers serve in a variety of capacities at Nashville’s Belmont Heights Baptist Church, including in the children’s ministry and as greeters on Sunday morning. Josh is a deacon, while Katie leads a women’s Bible study and is chairman of the trustees.
“Belmont Heights is honored and blessed to have Josh and Katie as members who are committed to helping us restart our church,” Belmont Heights Pastor John Garner said. “[It] seems God is bringing couples like this to our church to encourage others and be involved in ministry. It is amazing!”