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Art Butler

Missionary to the American Indian Field
"An Evident Love for People"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2016

Whether he was teaching at Southwest Indian School, playing sports, or mentoring, Art Butler found his calling in encouraging and mentoring Native Americans on WGM’s American Indian Field. After serving at SIS as teachers for many years, Art and his wife, Nancy, continued to reach out to Native Americans, often around a dinner table and many times with games.

Art and Nancy grew up within a few miles of each other in Indiana, but they did not meet until college. Although Art had accepted Christ as a boy, he wandered away from God during his time in the military. When he returned to the U.S. after serving in Okinawa, Japan, he was at a very low point, both physically and spiritually. He rededicated his life to the Lord and began earning his degree in education at Indiana Wesleyan University. He met Nancy, also an education major. She had grown up in a Christian home and was interested in full-time Christian service. Art and Nancy were married 49 years ago on August 19, 1967. While Art finished his degree and worked full time, Nancy taught third grade and completed her master’s degree in education at Ball State University (Indiana). They have three adult sons—Stephen, Scott, and Shane.

In the summer of 1971, they experienced their first taste of missions while teaching at a Christian academy in Puerto Rico. When they returned to the U.S., they sought God’s plan for their lives and received confirmation that their next step was career missionary service. They made themselves available to WGM to be placed wherever there was a need for teachers. In 1972, Art and Nancy arrived on the American Indian Field to serve at SIS in Phoenix, Arizona.

Between the two of them, Art and Nancy were involved in almost every area of children’s and youth ministry possible—teaching, coaching, dorm parents, camp ministry, Vacation Bible School, Sunday School, food service, administration, and much more. Through their ministries at SIS and Southwest Indian Ministries Center, they had the opportunity to minister to hundreds of Native American children. Art’s treasured reward was seeing young people accept Christ and follow Him.

In 2008, Art semi-retired but continued to serve in alumni ministries, working to stay in contact with former students and their families. Art was a beloved member of the American Indian Field missionary team and a father figure to many people of all ages. His love for people was evident in every person he interacted with as was his devotion to his Lord and Savior.

For Art, it was a joy to serve the Lord and to point others to Him. His decades of faithful service to God touched countless lives for the kingdom. Matthew 25:23 (NIV) testifies of his life: “‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”

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