9 September 2020
An interview with Alan Butler
Over the next few months, we thought it would be fun to do a series of blog posts introducing you to our 5 staff members and one of the members of our Board of Trustees. We hope these short interviews will give you an insight into who we are, what we get up to day to day and why we do what we do. So firstly, let’s get to know Alan, WorldShare’s CEO…
Can you sum up your role at WorldShare in less than 100 words?
I head up WorldShare’s work, which at one level means managing the office and leading the team, but at another level means working with the trustees to establish the vision, strategy and direction of the organisation. The next stage then is for me, along with the team, to be translating that vision and strategy into day-to-day actions.
I also work closely with the leaders of each of our ministry partners, which is a great privilege. It is an inspiration to see how they and their teams develop their vision under God to reach out to the poor, vulnerable and marginalised, giving them physical and spiritual hope.
What motivates you to do this job?
Mission and sharing the good news of Jesus has been a big part of my life, having previously worked in South Asia, both as a mission partner and as a tentmaker. I have been and continue to be passionate about seeing lives change as people respond to the Christian Gospel. What is special for me about the work that WorldShare and its ministry partners do is that we are resourcing and equipping the local (indigenous) church or para church organisations to “do mission”. This means that local teams, who speak the language and understand the culture, are the ones on the ground who can build trust and relationships and share God’s love in practical ways.
The words from Isaiah that Jesus read out in the temple in Luke 4:18 are a pointer to some of the different areas of work we are involved in:
He has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…
Proclaim the Good News (sharing the Gospel), working for freedom for prisoners (anti-slavery, anti-trafficking, empowerment of women), recovery of sight to the blind (making sick people well) and setting the oppressed spiritually and physically free.
What does a typical day working for WorldShare look like for you?
No two days are ever the same. As a team, we start the day in prayer, using the WorldShare prayer calendar as well praying for the different ministries (and our Alliance partners) on rotation.
Dealing with emails are always part of every day. But then the day can open up with perhaps a SKYPE/Zoom call with an overseas ministry partner, a discussion in the office on the next appeal or what should go in the forthcoming magazine, investigating possibilities of a new funder or speaking to a supporter by telephone.
Writing is a part of every day; for example, writing this blog, maybe the editorial or an article for the magazine, perhaps a message to preach on a Sunday in a church that wants to hear more about WorldShare’s work. Recently we’ve done some filming for use on social media. All part of a varied day.
WorldShare is like any other organisation – there is admin to do, policies to write and update, papers to prepare for trustee meetings, appraisals to perform, accounts to review, invoices to authorise for payment… and there needs to be some time to think, plan and pray… always time that needs to be protected.
What has been your biggest highlight of the year at work so far?
This year has been a special year with the presence and impact of Covid-19. Back in February, we had no idea what was ahead of us and as we closed down the office in mid-March, it seemed a nearly impossible challenge to run the organisation effectively with all the staff members working from home. That we managed to write, get printed and posted out to supporters, the 2020/2 Window magazine back in May, in the middle of lockdown, was a tribute to the hard and collaborative work of the team.
Another highlight for me, which is very different; is how our supporters and donors, not just thinking of their own situation and challenges but seeing the bigger picture of the impact of Covid-19 in God’s world, have awesomely responded to the needs of our ministry partners as they’ve endeavoured to respond to the needs of the communities they work amongst. Thank you!
Have you ever visited one of WorldShare’s ministry partners?
I’ve had the privilege of visiting a number of ministry partners over the last few years. These visits have always been exciting, challenging and humbling to meet and spend time with ministry leaders and hear first-hand how God is using them and the vision they have for transforming their communities.
In April 2018, John Bunce, one of the trustees and I went to Guatemala to visit the work of Potter’s House in Guatemala City amongst the people living and scavenging off the dump, which was amazing in its own right. But we also had the opportunity to visit the location of a new work area in Chiquimula in the east of Guatemala near the border with El Salvador and Honduras. This part of the visit was very special, to see the opportunities and needs and hear Héctor Rivas describing the plans that Potter’s House had for working in the area. I was given a test tube of Chiquimula soil (which is still in my office) as reminder to pray for the work as it grows and develops. Just in case you wonder, I do look at the soil and pray!
When you’re not working, what are you doing?
I’m married to Julia and we have three grown up daughters. We are part of an active and vibrant local Anglican church in Sheffield. Currently, the church is developing some exciting plans for re-ordering its buildings and as I have a background in civil engineering and project management, I’m heavily involved in that.
With the free time that remains, we enjoy walking in the Peak District and I occasionally get into DIY which is mostly relaxing.