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Butch and Leatha Jenkins

Retired missionaries to Papua New Guinea
"God Renewed His Calling"
Compiled by Beth Muehleisen, November 2021

Butch and Leatha Jenkins served in Papua New Guinea on work teams, as volunteers, and as global workers beginning in 1979. They retired in 2021—Leatha at the end of April and Butch at the end of October.

Butch was born into the home of a pastor, the last of six children. Leatha grew up on a farm in central Ohio. They met at Circleville Bible College, now Ohio Christian University, and were married in 1974.

After being married for one year, Leatha and Butch were separately involved in potentially fatal accidents. They began to wonder why God had spared their lives and what He had planned for them. In 1979, Butch had an opportunity to go on a work team to Papua New Guinea. Their eyes were opened to a people half a world away. When they read of the need for a carpenter for one year, they packed up their boys (ages four and ten months) and headed back to PNG.

After returning to the States, the family was blessed with twin daughters.

Within a few years, the Jenkins applied to go back to PNG full-time and spent ten years as global workers there. The highlights of those years for Leatha were teaching MK school and village children’s courses, and for Butch, training carpenters to help build approximately thirty local churches.

Butch and Leatha returned to the States in 1994 to support their children as they were getting their education and starting families. They began organizing work teams to WGM fields, including teams from OCU while serving as Student Involvement Directors.

Once again, on a work team, God renewed His calling, and the couple were on a plane back to PNG in 2011. This time, besides building projects, they focused on being a support to the younger global worker families, organizing a traveling bookstore, Bible storytelling, investing in local people, and initiating media cards with Bibles and songs in three languages.

They have passed on their calling and love for outreach to their children. Three of them serve with WGM around the world, and one is a local minister’s wife. With multiple grandchildren living in other countries, their international travel won’t stop anytime soon.

Even though they are officially retired, Butch and Leatha have no plans to just sit in their recliners. As a matter of fact, they are leading work teams to PNG in January and February 2022 to work on the MWV project (married student housing) that was put on hold due to the pandemic.

Over the years, Philippians 4:6–7 have been meaningful verses for them as they’ve followed Christ: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV).

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