Mary Jeanne Buttrey – 1948-2023
On May 4, 2023, OMF missionary Mary Jeanne Buttrey passed away. OMF (U.S.) Retiree Care Coordinator, Pamela Kaczmarczyk, shares moments from Mary Jeanne’s life, alongside her husband, Paul, until her Lord and Savior called her home.
By Pamela Kaczmarczyk
In 1980, the Buttreys went to Taiwan to serve with OMF International. After two years of language study in the central city of Taichung, they moved to the northern capital of Taipei where their daughter, Gail, was born in 1983.
In their first term of service, they ministered to university students and young adults in a church near two major universities. Mary Jeanne also began to train medical students at the Mackay Memorial Hospital, in Taipei until Gail was born.
In their second term of service, Paul was appointed as Assistant to the Taiwan Field Director in Taichung, so they moved there to supervise new missionaries in a language school in 1985 and 1986. While in central Taiwan, Mary Jeanne also saw patients one day a week at the Changhua Christian Hospital.
In 1987 they moved back to Taipei where Mary Jeanne saw patients and trained medical students, eventually shifting to training interns and residents. These ministries gave her many opportunities to reach out to people in the medical community with the message of hope in Jesus Christ.
Mary Jeanne had established this policy before she left for the field: “I desire to use my medical skills to His glory; yet I do not insist on being in medical work. Surely the God who met a young high school girl can be trusted, for we serve the Christ who is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
However, God granted her heart’s desire and she served at Mackay Hospital, a Taiwanese Presbyterian hospital in Taipei, for 25 years. Teaching basic clinical skills in the Department of Medicine allowed her to model how faith in Christ informs professional practice.
OMF International is a mission agency that has a strong tradition of concern for the medical needs of its missionaries, seeking to keep them as healthy as possible. One of Mary Jeanne’s ministry assignments was to provide medical advice and counsel to its Taiwan field missionaries, although not acting as their physician.
She provided this service in the form of routine physical exams and being available on the phone to discuss field members’ medical needs and related decisions. Because of Mary Jeanne’s background, she made significant contributions to the development of the “Field Medical Advisor” system in the 1980s which is now seen as standard throughout OMF.
1987 was the beginning of the Buttreys’ involvement in the Kang Hwa Church in Taipei. They joined it shortly after it was begun as a newly planted church, and they eventually worshipped there for 27 years.
During their term of service ending in 1994, Mary Jeanne and Paul opened their home to Taiwan people for the sake of the gospel. They hosted a weekly Bible study for young couples and had a marriage relationship that was a wonderful example. Informally Mary Jeanne discipled several ladies in the church and did a lot of personal counseling.
In 2014, plans for the OMF International Gathering (150th-anniversary celebration), to be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand in July 2015, were well underway. 1700 adults and children attended this event. Mary Jeanne had already been diagnosed with cancer, but bravely agreed to play an important role on the conference medical team which was deeply appreciated.
Mary Jeanne’s life was one of consistency: serving her family, serving at MacKay Hospital, Kang Hwa Church, and Field Medical Advisor in Taiwan. She continued that consistency later in retirement by serving with OMF as a Home Medical Advisor, serving in Peninsula Community Church leading a Bible Study group that continued right up to the week that she passed away.
For those of us who knew Mary Jeanne, we loved her for our friendships, her sincere love for us, and for honoring each person the way they were. Mary Jeanne could be very spiritual and fun-loving at the same time. Although she was a doctor and very intelligent, she was very humble.
Even though she had cancer for many years, she lived until her mid 70’s. Her mind was sharp right up till the end. Even four days before she died, she told me that she was experiencing God’s goodness.
Isaiah 46:4 says, “I will carry you and save you, and when you are old, I will still be there, carrying you. When your limbs grow tired, your eyes are weak, and your hair a silvery gray, I will carry you as I always have. I will carry you and save you.“