FBC Guin couple spends years teaching their kids about lifestyle of missions

Marguerite Butler remembers vividly April 3, 1974, the day a tornado swept through Guin and nearly wiped it off the map.

But she remembers one thing even more vividly — a lady who sat weeping in her Sunday School class the following weekend.

“She was retired but she had gone back to work so that she could earn the money to buy a pleasure boat,” Marguerite Butler said. “It got blown away with the house. She just cried and said she had spent two years working for nothing.”

Marguerite Butler’s heart went out to her but she decided something right then and there about life’s priorities.

Thinking the same thing

Her husband, Gilbert, said, “Marguerite came home and said, ‘We ought to do something to help our children have a priority in their life that can’t be blown away with the wind.’ She told me she had been thinking about spending some of her summer vacation doing missions and I told her I had been thinking the same thing.”

The Butlers, both schoolteachers, called the Home Mission Board (now the North American Mission Board) and asked them to assign both of them and their three teenage children anywhere they wanted for two weeks that summer.

A family affair

“We decided we would go anywhere they needed five sets of hands,” Gilbert Butler said.

And in the years that followed, the mission board took them up on their offer.

They did missions in St. Louis, assisted visitors to the Southern Baptist Convention in Atlanta and served at the Seaman Center in Mobile, among others.

Marguerite Butler said, “The children loved it. Every year they asked often if we knew yet where the mission board was sending us this summer.”

After the kids went off to college, the Butlers broadened their reach.

“We let the International Mission Board know we’d be open to longer assignments,” Gilbert Butler said. “After that, we spent three summers in China, a year in Guyana and six months in West Africa.”

They went to Ukraine twice and they taught school in American Samoa, where a storm found them again.

“A hurricane blew our school away and I had to rebuild it,” he said. “We had to start trying to fix it before the wind had even stopped, just so we could save the school supplies inside.”

But at 95 and 93, respectively, Gilbert and Marguerite Butler both say they would pick that kind of storm over the boat-ruining kind. A map at their church, First Baptist, Guin, is strewn with pins marking the places they’ve been over the years.

“It’s been a lifestyle for them from a long, long time,” said Scott Stokes, director of missions for Lamar Baptist Association and former pastor of First, Guin. “Both of them are missionaries at heart.”

Still working for the Lord

They’re still just working for the Lord, Marguerite Butler said — something they would encourage anyone to do.

“If you’re considering doing missions, go for it — you’ll never regret it,” she said.

They have no desire to slow down but they are starting to pass the baton — their youngest grandson just got back from a missions trip to the Dominican Republic. And the elder Butlers have only just stepped down from their position as missions mobilizers for the North American Mission Board.

“God has been so good to us,” she said. “Our children have been deeply blessed because they’ve seen how God can work through them. And all of our grandchildren have been involved in missions too. We’re grateful for that.”