Living Every Day for Jesus: an interview with Bart Buell, formerly minister at Drumnadrochit Church

by | May 20, 2021 | People

From Here to Serve 36

Living every day for Jesus

Interview with Bart Buell, retired minister of Drumnadrochit Church.

Despite going to church, praying and being seen as a ‘good boy’, Bart shares there was an inner darkness in his life. He says; ‘I knew it in my head that Jesus is my Saviour but it was dark in my heart.’ While he was studying at a Lutheran college, sharing a room with five other poor students, he was part of a church that was cold and unwelcoming, polite but not really interested. Studies were particularly hard, life was lonely. He decided if life was dependent on his efforts he didn’t want it.

But the darkness and frustration were used by Jesus.  That year, a man who was on the look-out for seekers, gave Bart an A4 sheet of Bible verses to learn and challenged him to start telling people about Jesus. He showed him at the start of Ephesians 2, that, through Jesus’ sacrifice, we are saved, by grace, not works.

Bart shares that at that point the Holy Spirit made Jesus’ death a personal reality; ‘It exploded in my head, like the 4th of July fireworks, it all came together.’ He adds ‘The Bible then became like my mother and her cook book, I read it all the time. I grew fast.’ Thirty years later he found out that a youth group had been challenged by their minister to select someone who was not a Christian, for whom they would pray every day. Bart was chosen. To this day they still might not know the effects of their prayers.

Growing up in the USA, he held a degree in social work and did jobs as a car park attendant, greengrocer and janitor. But his life took a turn when he was conscripted to the army and ended up in Japan behind a typewriter. He shares that his writing was so bad, his captain had to take it home to his wife to retype all. But there, out in the snow, a deep conviction grew. He realised he had a life to give, where he could tell the Japanese people about Jesus. He was particularly touched by an OMF missionary who had a deep love for the people and lived a simple lifestyle of deep dedication to Jesus.

Bart decided to follow suit and later met his wife on a ship heading out to the East. God paired them up, as they were to take devotions in pairs and were alphabetically picked; Margaret Aitken got paired up with Bart Buell. She went to Thailand, he to Japan. He asked her to marry him by letter. For weeks he eagerly awaited a reply, not knowing he had misaddressed his proposal letter. Miraculously, he got a reply when he was sick in bed, and got so excited: ‘I spilled my hot lemonade all over the bed.’

They ended back in her home country Scotland without money and furniture, with three kids and a few bags, not knowing if God would provide. ‘But He did, at every turn.’ On the very day Bart was free to look for a charge he got a phone call, leading them to minister for many years in Drumnadrochit.

Having retired years ago, he still has a big heart for ministry and loves the visions of LICC and Acorn. He loves being fruitful on his frontline and actively seeks opportunities to reach out every day, to family, friends and neighbours, in the midst of pain, through loving conversation. He is deeply committed to making disciples who want to reach out, fuelled by preaching and prayer. Well into his nineties, Bart has a big heart to preach meaningfully, lovingly and relevantly to help people live every day for Jesus, reaching out. He sees God bringing new ways to the church where we are free to be more creative and accountable in disciple making, delegating people to be involved in the work of God. Bart says his life is a testament of ’a sinner saved by grace’.

He says ‘Jesus was passionate about the Father’s will and doing it. He wants me to be anxiously urgent about His will on earth. Jesus dies for it. Because He died, I got saved. I am a new man. I am trying to be faithful to that calling. In my life, honouring the Lord Jesus, that is the main thing. I can only say that goodness and mercy have followed me all the days of my life.’ Asking about his advice for us, he says ‘Live your life by living out God’s word honestly and openly and the Holy Spirit will take care of an awful lot of stuff.’ Who can I invest in