International Ministries

On the road to....Detour!

May 26, 2009 Journal
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Journal from Dan Buttry
From Orissa, India—oops, Beaumont Hospital!

“On the road to…..Detour!”

James 4 gives us sage advice:

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.’ Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.’”

During the Global Baptist Peace Conference in Rome I met with my friend Samaresh Nayak to make plans for my third trip to Orissa, India.  I traveled to Orissa twice in 2008 to encourage and provide training in nonviolence and trauma recovery for Christians who had been victimized by Hindu militants.  We planned to do more extensive work as well as some interfaith bridge-building.  Ah, “If the Lord wills….”

Initially I was to go in March, but a bad viral cold triggered my asthma, and I was in no shape to travel.  So we rescheduled for June.  “If the Lord wills….”  My annual physical came back with an elevated PSA test, and given that my father died of prostate cancer at 56, my current age, we decided to do a biopsy.  The biopsy came back positive.  I have prostate cancer, but it was detected early.  So instead of heading back to India I’m headed into the operating room at Beaumont Hospital in metro Detroit.

I’ve been blessed with so many people around the world praying for me and extending their concern, love and encouragement.  The prognosis is excellent at this point with cutting edge robotic surgery scheduled (pardon the pun!).  The doctor said I could keep my plans to travel to Burma (Myanmar) in September.  “If the Lord wills…”

My Muslim friends are quick to use the Arabic phrase inshallah, “God willing,” when they discuss plans for the future.  They seem to practice the spirit of what James was writing about better than most Christians I know.  However, one of my Muslim friends laughingly told me about trying to nail down business commitments:  “No inshallah!” he would say, because sometimes people used “God’s will” as an excuse for their own laziness, sloppiness or lack of commitment. 

Can we be diligent in what we plan and what we do, but at the same time be spiritually attuned and even peaceful about the unexpected which erupts into our life—whether pleasant or unpleasant?  I don’t believe that evil in our world is God’s will, but sometimes it is God’s will that we deal with these matters in our lives.  I’ll trust the mystery to God about how it is all woven together.  I know it is God’s will that I trust in God and draw my strength from the deep wells of divine grace.  I believe in and have directly experienced God’s healing power, so my spirit is at peace.

God willing, I will have a full ministry time in the fall.  We have plans for going to Myanmar in September, Ukraine in November as well as either Azerbaijan or Georgia, then to northeast India in December.  Obviously my health is an issue, and that prognosis looks good.  

Another issue is our mission finances, and that prognosis is not so good.  For the last 5 years I’ve been trying to raise support for my salary, retirement and health, but I’ve been stuck at about 50% of that level.  With the economic crisis International Ministries has experienced a huge financial crunch.  The missionaries have been told that we must get up to 100% of our needed support levels if we are to sustain our work.  Part of “God willing” for my mission then is “God willing through the willing of God’s people” in giving “for the support of Dan Buttry.”

Many of you have donated regularly and generously.  Thank you!  You provide the foundation upon which we will continue to build, God willing!

For those of you who have not given toward my support, now would be a great time to start.  Any donation by a new donor—individual or congregation—sent to International Ministries (by check to P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482 or by credit card at their website, I’m under the Global Consultants pull-down menu) by June 30th in amounts of $200 to $2,000 will be doubled by a matching gift from the Luther Rice Fund.  So prayerfully consider if this might be God’s will for you.

God willing and God’s people willing, we will meet our financial needs to press on with the ministry.  God willing I’ll be in great shape by the end of summer.  And again, thank you for all your prayers and support!

In peace, hope and trust,