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Peace In The Face Of Tragedy 06/20/2008

Matthew Butler and Steve Swan

Steve Swan and Matthew Butler at their Christian recording studio.

Wednesday night, Matthew Butler and Steve Swan, two longtime friends and business associates, spent the evening mixing Christian music at their recording studio. Shortly after midnight, they phoned Matthew's wife to let them know they were finished and left the building. They never made it home.

Three young men are behind bars today after they were found in east Texas driving Matthew's car. They are being held under suspicion of theft and capital murder. Police are still looking for Steve's car, which was also stolen.

The senseless killings of two young men, both dedicated to their faith and to music that upholds that faith, is difficult to understand. Sadly, Matthew left behind a wife and two children so young that they will probably not remember their loving father. Yet in the face of such inexplicable tragedy, Matthew's widow, Jamie, demonstrates grace and peace beyond comprehension.

"I hope and I pray that whoever these people are can realize and understand what they've done and can apologize," she told the Dallas Morning News, "but I hope and pray that they can fall on their knees before God and ask Him for forgiveness."

Later, on FOX News, Jamie went even further when discussing the men who took away her husband and the father of their children.

"I can honestly say that at the young age of 28, when he took his last breath, that he lived his dream. His dream and his desire was to be a husband and a father and to own a recording studio. That's what he loved. He loved music with all of his heart. And he was an amazing musician, an amazing audio engineer, along with Steve...his best friend of eight years.

"The only way that I think that God really had his hand on both Matthew and Steve, and although their lives ended in such tragedy, the lives that they lived were such a great testimony of the grace and the mercy and the peace that God gives when we don't have everything and when we don't know what to do. Matthew was just an amazing walking testimony. And even in his death, he's a great testimony of God and of his great mercy.

"That's what my husband would want everyone out there to know, that God loves them....And so for these men out there that have done this, I would want know Christ and to know that no matter what, God died on the cross for them and that he will forgive them. And my husband, I know, is waiting at the gates of heaven, wanting to meet these men and saying, 'I forgive you, as well.'"

Where does such unfathomable grace come from? How can this young woman be enveloped in a peace that passes all understanding? There is only one answer: a supernatural God who fulfills His promise to be a comfort in time of need.

David and Julie Butler (no relation) work in our television department. David is an editor and Julie a producer for LIFE Today. They met Matthew and Jamie Butler in a child-birthing class, joking that they were "long lost cousins." As a teenager, David used to hang out in downtown Garland, where Zion Gate Studios now stands. They were shocked at the news.

"It's not a high-crime area," David says. "I keep picturing the exact spot where they were shot and thinking, 'They were murdered there?'"

Jamie's resilience in this horrible time amazes them, too. David describes Jamie as having a unique purity about her. Clearly, it is the purity and power of the Holy Spirit.

Many people claim to not believe in God because they cannot see Him. Neither can we see the wind, but we know it is there when it blows through the trees. Likewise, I see the effect of an Almighty God in the life of Jamie Butler. Not only does she have the arms of her comforting Savior wrapped around her right now, but she also rests in the knowledge that she will be reunited with her husband one day. She doesn't just hope, she knows.

That is the only way she can forgive those who committed this outrage. It is not just an empty faith that will carry her through these difficult times, but a real, abiding presence of a Holy God that will enable her continue to live each day with hope, love and peace.

To contribute to Matthew Butler's memorial fund, visit any Wells Fargo Bank or write a check payable to "Matthew Butler Memorial Fund" and mail it to:
  Wells Fargo Bank
  2628 Long Prairie Road, Suite 110
  Flower Mound, TX 75022

Author: James Robison

Word Count: 790

About the author: James Robison is the founder and president of LIFE Outreach International, a Christian media ministry and mission relief organization. He and his wife, Betty, host of the television program Life Today; He has authored numerous books, including The Soul of a Nation, The Absolutes: Freedom's Only Hope and True Prosperity.

Media Contact: Randy Robison, editor at . Photo available upon request. Reprint rights granted with attribution for complete, unedited article. Revisions allowed only with approval.