Mar1FriMarch 1, 2013On the ice, Billy Butters was one tough cookie. He never shied away from a scrap and was known to be one of the toughest guys in the league. Off the ice, his life was plagued with alcohol and fast living. He never cared about God. All he worried about was the here and now and the temporary pleasures of the world.
So what changed? Why is this not the Billy Butters most people in the hockey world know today?
One simple answer: God changed his life at a CHCI Hockey Camp 32 years ago. Read his story below:
The Story of Billy ButtersIn the Spring of 1980 I was at the end of my career and my rope. My marriage was falling apart and I was a drunk. I started to wonder what is going to happen to me, my wife and our three children. Playing and coaching in Oklahoma City I saw an old pro sitting in the stands before a game. I recognized him...it was Paul Henderson. I had tormented Paul when I played against him because I knew he was a Christian. I knew I could slash and hack him because he wou1dn’t retaliate because of his faith. I walked up to him , greeted him and asked if he could send me any “stuff” on Christianity. I dídn’t know what to expect but he wrote me a nice letter and sent a book called “Mere Christianig” by C.S. Lewis. I read it and thought about it for a few days but there was no Change in me or my lifestyle. The season ended a few weeks later and I moved back to Minnesota.
I had atterlded the University of Minnesota for four years but had not received my degree. I tried to find employment but was unsuccessful. One company called me for an interview. It was the Satellite Corporation. I went to the interview and found out I would be selling or leasing portable “outhouses”! How ironic. My life was in the dumpster and so was my only hope for employment. I passed on the offer hoping something would come-up.A few days later an ex-teammate called me. It was Torn Reid and he asked me if I'd like to work at a hockey camp. Usually pro players make good money working these camps so I asked Tom how much Vd be making per hour. He said it’s a Christian Athlete Hockey Camp and the pros volunteer their time. I laughed at him. First, I’m not working for nothing and second I’m as far from being a Christian that there is. Tom was persistent. He kept calling and I kept refusing. Finally, after five calls I relented. I didn.’t know why but I said yes. But I quickly said just do the on-ice coaching and keep me away from the Christian Stuff. He agreed.
What I saw at that camp was unbelievable. Young boys sitting under shade trees with their counselors or a pro reading Bibles! Kids praying before meals. Young boys praying with their on-ice iristruetors before and ter their vilorlcouts. No swearing.' Kids listening and being respectful of the speakers at time-outs. This happened all day everyday. I knew they had formal Chapel in the evening so I went on Wednesday night. My friend Chico Resch was speaking that night so I sat in the front row. They had a youth pastor there to lead music. He had these kids singing and having a wonderful time. They were singing “Father Abraham” a song that has all kinds of body movement. I had heard of the “Holy Rollers” and wondered if this was it! I started getting a little nervous. Then the music leader quieted the boys down with a few worship songs and I thought how beautiful to hear all these boys singing.The music Ieader started tuning his guitar and while he was doing that he tried to make eye contact with me. I refused to look his way. However, I made a mistake and looked his way and made eye contact. raised his eyebrows at me so I returned the gesture to him. BIG MISTAKE! That was the cue he needed. He started strurnming his guitar and singing...O Billy do you love Jesus, then he looked at me for a response...NOTHINGl Nothing but tears and a red face caused by embarrassment. I was embarrassed not because I didn’t know the song but because I didn’t know who the song was about.
Chico got up and shared how Jesus Christ had changed his life. In thirty years I hadn’t heard of a personal relationship with Christ. After the Chapel I was asked to attend a huddle group. It was very _interesting to seeubeys with Bibles, reading from them and sharing with each other. I had never read a Bible. The counselor looked down at his watch and said it’s getting late let’s close in prayer. I had never prayed. They stood up and we all held hands. I was uncomfortable holding a twelve year old boys hand. Then they started praying out loud! I was so nervous that the boys would expect me to pray. Then a calm came over me and I listened. Each boy began to pray for me. One prayed for a job. One prayed for peace in rny life. One prayed I may find joy and happiness in my life. And finally, one twelve year old boy prayed that I could know Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I was a thirty year old tough hockey player attending a camp to teach some kids how to skate, pass and shoot and these boys and the HMI staff had taught me the love of Christ. After the player I was crying and all the boys hugged me and told me the would continue to pray for me. That night I got down on my knees and asked Christ into my life.I asked for forgiveness of my sins and thanked Him for giving His life for me. That day has changed my life! I have not had a drink of alcohol since that day. I talked with my wife and confessed to her the sins I had committed against her and our children. She forgave me and July 28th we will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary! Christ has broken the chain of divorce and unholy living in my family!
We invite you to change your story at camp this year. Visit the Registration Page or Find a Location near you.