By Butch Whitten--
As many of the old timers at church know, I was a taxi driver. Back in 2000, I had a man die in my cab. I was taking him to a doctor's appointment in St. Johns. He fell asleep - or so I thought - so I let him sleep on the way to the appointment. I pulled up to the doctor's office and went inside to tell them that the man was asleep in my cab. The lady in the office did a code call and every doctor rushed outside to wake him up. The doctor took his pulse then looked at me and told me he was dead.
Instead of taking his death to God, I took it to the bottle, the bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey. My journey of whiskey continued until June 2000 when I was transported to Providence Portland Hospital on NE Glisan Street because I couldn't breathe very well. I was on the verge of dying from too much whiskey in my body. A team of student doctors from OHSU said I should have died, and an alcohol counselor came to my room and invited me to treatment. I told him to get out of my room.
I left the hospital three days later and went home to finish the whiskey that I started before going to the hospital.
However, God still got my attention to go to alcohol treatment. The alcohol counselor that I kicked out of my room became my counselor at the treatment center. My friends, that was God at work in my life!
I was sent to AA meetings and my sobriety date is March 23, 2001. I began going to meetings at NW 24th and Kearney Street, behind Good Samaritan Hospital. After about 4 years of sobriety, I started going to AA meetings at a Catholic Church in NW Portland under the Fremont Bridge. Our group was really growing, and we had to find a bigger place to meet. I recommended Greater Portland Bible Church to my sponsor, and he asked me to look into our meeting at GPBC. I asked then pastor Jon Sturm about it, and he said that he saw how God and AA had changed my life (thank you, Jesus!). The pastors and elder board approved my request and we started meeting at the church on Saturday nights. Eventually, we started meeting three nights a week.
Greater Portland Bible Church has graciously been our host for over 16 years. Founding Pastor Lynn Kent told me he wanted us to be a healing church.
Isaiah 53:4 has meant a lot to me:
"...by His stripes, we are healed."
Thank you, Jesus.
On behalf of my AA brothers and sisters, we thank you for providing a great meeting hall for us. Our speakers from all over the country speak highly of our church. God bless all of you!