A man from Metro Detroit recently shared a heartwarming account of how the death of his Chocolate Labrador Retriever was instrumental in bringing people back to church.
Buddy, was well known for his favorite yellow raincoat he wore when he walked with owner John Karakian throughout the communities of Novi, Walled Lake, and Wixom over the past 12 years.
Buddy’s favorite activity was walking outdoors, and even after he died last March, Karakian continued their walking routine, handing out photos of the two of them along with tickets to an Easter production at Brightmoor Christian Church, where Karakian attends.
To his surprise, there was such a positive response from people, with phone calls, messages, and over 60 sympathy cards, and memorials too were set up for Buddy in front of Karakian’s house.
A police officer who hadn’t seen Karakian around for some time, visited him and as Karakian shared that Buddy had passed away, the conversation turned spiritual as the officer asked, “do you think he’s in heaven?”
“Next thing you know, we’re talking about Jesus,” Karakian adds.
At the Easter production, Karkian saw people “from more than a decade of walks with his chocolate lab”. Moreover, he knew their faiths from previous spiritual conversations, ranging from Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and even Atheists. Additionally, Christian women with non-Christian husbands attended.
Karakian heard the Lord say, “You’re not done yet, keep sending those letters out.” He was reluctant and told God, “I can’t be walking around telling everybody my dog died”. He feared that people were “going to think I need a psychiatrist.”
But he said he knew, “God had a plan.”
God told Karakian, “You do the walking, and I’ll do the talking.” Karakian spent the next 7 months walking on the usual routes hand-delivering more custom-made cards of Buddy, along with 400 “Buddy tickets” to his church’s Christmas program last winter.
In a megachurch seating of 2,100, somewhere over 200 from the “Buddy Brigade” showed up, some were given tickets by others who were unable to go.
Karakian was given a cake and a thank you card from a woman who visited his house in January. She shared with him about how her husband and son went to church because of Buddy.
The Assemblies of God News, said, Karakian visited, “2,200 homes, his credit union, the UPS store that printed the cards, his doctors and their nurses”. As he went along, he prayed and shared the need of Jesus as Savior, in which none turned away.
Karakian and Buddy were so beloved in the community that a picture of Buddy was framed on Maria’s Deli, as Buddy loved eating lasagna there. “If Buddy didn’t pass away, none of this would have happened,” Karakian said. He noted that all it took was a dog, a leash and “my two feet” to spread the Gospel.
Buddy is now known as “the evangelistic dog” who spread his “chocolate evangelism” by Karakian’s friends. “The Holy Spirit used a chocolate lab, and the devil never knew what hit him,” as Karakian cited Isaiah 11:6.
“As soon as I said, ‘My dog died,’ everybody empathised and wanted to hear more,” he continued. “It’s the wonders of the Lord.”
Brightmoor’s Creative Pastor, Robb Stancer described Buddy as a “four-legged friend that could melt your heart with compassion and help open your eyes to something greater.”’ He believed that the huge turnout of Karakian’s invitations was out of the strong bond that was shared with Buddy.
“They say they came because of the dog, but I think it’s John’s genuine love, and they care,” Stancer noted. “This little dog bridged a gap between race, religion, culture, and person because they loved Buddy. In many ways, John was just being Christ’s hands extended.”
Karakian says he is honored to be “Buddy’s butler” and prays for “the biggest revival in the history of the world, that God uses the Buddy Brigade to get the whole world saved.” Amen, we agree with Karakian, and pray that many more are saved through the evangelism he is doing in his community with the people who loved Buddy so much.