When Nashville couple Katie and Josh Butler welcomed their son, Josh Dewey Butler IV, into the world in May 2015, they never knew the life of love and loss they were about to endure.
Dewey, as the couple affectionately called their son, was born with a rare genetic disorder that had never been identified before. It made eating and breathing difficult for the newborn who lived 132 short days of life at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital before going home to Jesus.
“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 said. “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.”
Losing their son, holding his lifeless body one last time, and taking their child in his carseat to the funeral home, were all experiences that most people can’t even fathom. They were the hardest moment’s of the Butler’s lives.
“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 towards healing.”
Katie says God was preparing them for something with Dewey.
One of Dewey’s nurses told Josh and Katie about a baby on the fifth floor of the hospital who was suffering from similar illnesses as their son. His name was Braxtel, and his family had “deserted” him.
“Right away I knew it was an answer to a prayer,” Katie says after she heard about the abandoned baby. “This baby needed a home, needed a family.”
The couple met Braxtel, and immediately fell in love with this sweet little boy. They fostered, then adopted Braxtel as their own.
Braxtel spent more time in the hospital being treated for a variety of illnesses, but eventually, Josh and Katie were able to bring their son home.
“Caring for Brax has not in any way replaced our loss of Dewey,” Josh said. “Rather, Braxtel has given us a reason to keep fighting and to keep loving. It would be so easy to lose hope and to be depressed. Even though we tend toward selfishness, Braxtel helps us to remember that our lives are not about us first but putting others first.”
The now-2-year-old shares the same medical equipment and specialists the Butler’s had previously used with Dewey.
Still connected to a breathing tube, Braxtel communicates using sign language.
“He’s experienced such healing, such supernatural healing, and we are so grateful,” said Katie.
The couple shared their story on Monday night’s episode of American Ninja Warrior, where Josh competed on his sons’ behalf as one of the 14 rookies in the Daytona, Florida, finals.
The Butlers hope that in sharing their story, others will find peace in their circumstances, and healing.
“Through sharing our story on ANW, we want others to know that there is a purpose to your life, that God has a purpose for you, in the good and especially the bad,” Josh said.