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Evangel alumni perspective: Michael & Wendy (Niebuhr) Buttacy

Name: Michael & Wendy (Niebuhr) Buttacy

Graduation Year: 2005

Major: Biblical Studies & Electronic Media | Biblical Studies & Psychology (EU) Counseling M.A. (AGTS)

Current Position: Executive Director/CEO Ozarks Teen Challenge | Curriculum Development Specialist for Adult & Teen Challenge USA

City and State: Springfield, MO

Tell us about your career and what you do now.

Michael: I am the Executive Director of Ozarks Teen Challenge, an adolescent recovery program working with young men ages 13-18 dealing with life-controlling issues and addiction. Our mission is to see young men overcome addiction to find recovery and restoration through the power of Jesus Christ.

Support Ozark Teen Challenge by joining the 5K  race on July 20th at 8 am! Bring the whole family to enjoy the Branson Landing. 5k and Half-Pint Half-Mile registrations available.

Register Here!

Wendy: I am blessed to work for Adult & Teen Challenge USA here in Ozark, MO. We provide services to over 260 Teen Challenge centers across the country. I research, write, and manage the publication process of student discipleship curriculum. Our mission is to assist students in overcoming life-controlling issues by drawing them closer to Christ.

What is your favorite memory from Evangel?

Michael: The tremendous community I found on my floor. I was assigned to Scott 1st North my freshman year and I stayed there all four years. My floor had diversity, which reminded me of home. The bonds I made with the guys on my floor are evident today – I have been in several of their weddings and now I even work with one of my best friends who had lived across from me. There is no other time in life where you are surrounded by a community like you are at EU.

Wendy: The many late nights with friends, softball road trips, and the lasting friendships.

How did Evangel help you identify/develop your calling?

Michael: While serving on an Impact Team during my sophomore year, we went on a mission trip to Boston. We helped the Southern New England District (SNED) conduct their annual youth convention. During the altar call, the team and I were leading people to the altar and where praying for them. I remember hearing the voice of the Lord telling me to step back and look at what He was doing. I was in awe. Hundreds of young people were going after the Lord. He told me I would be a part of this one day and to prepare myself. I called my Dad that night and told him I need to pick up a degree in theology. Thanks to the help of the amazing professors in the theology department, I was able to complete that degree. Fast-forward 13 years and an MBA later, now the Lord has me working with young people who are lost and helping them find their calling in Jesus. Amazing how He remains faithful in what He asks us to do.

Wendy: My time at Evangel helped me to prepare for my calling even when the specifics were unclear. I was drawn to theology and psychology but I didn’t feel a call to traditional counseling or ministry. When this opportunity at Teen Challenge opened up, it all came together. 

How did your experience at Evangel prepare you for life after graduation?

Michael: I learned how to push myself and not give up. Completing my education was a process and a grind. I was not a straight-A student, so what was required of me was more than others whose education came naturally. This perseverance has helped me every step of my career. I can truly say the skills I learned at Evangel have helped shape the way I lead, learn, and challenge others.

Wendy: I learned a lot about myself, the importance of relationships, and I gained the tools necessary for living out my calling within the workplace.  

What advice would you give a current student preparing for the workforce?

Michael: Seek the Lord in what His desires are for you. His ways are so much better than yours. Next, know that just because you have a degree and you are 21 doesn’t mean you are qualified to be the CEO of Google. Take your time to learn in the workplace and put in the time needed to grow professionally. When the time is right, just like David, the Lord will put you where you need to be. Not a moment too soon or too late. Lastly, do something that matters. It doesn’t matter what field you are in, don’t get lost in the money you can earn, the title you can have, or the position you hold. Our best example of leadership is Jesus, and He washed feet. Don’t forget what got you to where you are.

Wendy: Seek the Lord and plan for your immediate future, but don’t plan too far in advance. The Lord often disrupts our plans in the best possible way. Trust in Him.

What would you look for if you were in a position to hire new graduates from Evangel?

Michael: I would look for someone with passion, competence, a teachable spirit, compassion, and joy. No one wants to pay a negative person to be on their staff and besides, serving Jesus is fun!

Wendy: I would look for someone with passion, integrity, ability, and a willingness to serve—even in the small things. Someone willing to “wash feet” like Jesus. I’ve noticed that when people stop getting their hands dirty in service to others, their hearts often become unclean. Keep serving!