FBC Guin couple continue missions trips in their mid 80scomment (0)
January 12, 2012
By Anna Keller
Gilbert and Marguerite Butler are in their late 80s, but they certainly don’t act like it. Not only are the Butlers extremely active in their church, First Baptist, Guin — Gil is a choir member and deacon, and Marge teaches Sunday School and participates in Vacation Bible School (VBS) each year — but they are also dedicated to missions work.
Marge was a student missionary for two years in college, but the Butlers were inspired to focus on missions as a family when a tornado hit Guin in 1974. Marge was teaching a Sunday School class at the time, and a class member’s uninsured boat had been destroyed by the storm, and she was beside herself with grief.
“That night, I asked my husband if he would pray with me to teach our three children to do something with their time, money and energy that wouldn’t be blown away by wind,” she said. “The next morning, Gil asked me if it would be all right to call the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) and see if there was a missionary somewhere who would like to use five pairs of hands.”
The Butlers had found their calling.
Each year, they traded their family vacation for a missions trip to a new location to offer help. The emphasis on missions evidently affected the Butlers’ children, because two daughters served as summer student missionaries in college and their oldest daughter spent two years in Paraguay as a journeyman.
The couple felt so called to missions work that they both elected to retire early to make more time for trips, and at that point, they began traveling overseas. In fact, 2011 was the first year in the last 20 years that they didn’t travel abroad.
“We’d planned to go to Haiti over the summer, but Gil got dehydrated before the trip, and two of our granddaughters had to go in our stead,” Marge said. “We ended up going to Illinois later that month for a missions trip and helped with VBS, youth groups and nursing home outreach there.”
Through the years, the Butlers have visited every continent but Antarctica and, in addition to shorter trips, spent a year teaching in Africa and a year teaching in American Samoa. They’ve also been plugged in stateside, spending a Christmas with migrant workers in Orlando, Fla., and working with a Laotian ministry in Montgomery for seven months.
They even serve as volunteers in missions area consultants, focusing on Marion and Winston Baptist Associations, for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions (SBOM).
Reggie Quimby, director of the SBOM office of global missions, has had the opportunity to travel with the couple.
“They traveled with me to Venezuela to work in a local church in Caracas,” he said. “They prayer walked and witnessed, as well as shared their testimony in local church services.”
According to Quimby, who has known the Butlers for 20 years, their dedication to missions has been an inspiration to others across their association and beyond.
“They have been a living example of what the Lord gave as His mandate in Acts 1:8,” he said.
“They certainly have exemplified the Great Commission, not only to Alabama Baptists but to the ends of the earth.”
When they aren’t traveling, the Butlers can often be found speaking at churches and events about their passion for missions, and they enjoy sharing their testimonies and connecting with congregations and audiences.
“We’re very much blessed that at our age, God gave us good health, and I don’t think He gave it to us for nothing,” Gil said. “When people ask us what our favorite place was, we usually tell them that they get better and better and it’s usually the last place we’ve been to!”