Interview with Sherri Buntain
We are beginning a new series of interviews with the ladies behind our pastors and elders. In this interview, Sherri Buntain shares with us her passion for Christ through her love for His people and her life journey as a Christian and as Pastor Ian's wife.
1. Could you introduce yourself to our readers – for example what you do for a living &/or what are you actively involved in currently?
I think you all know me best as Pastor Ian’s wife. Mostly though I am just one of the sisters who worships and serves the Lord through GBC.
Ian and I will have been married for 38 years this August and we have three boys who are all married. The Lord has blessed us with five grandchildren ranging in age from one to six.
I have had several jobs and many interests over the years which include working for the Royal Bank of Canada for 10 years, but my calling to ministry and missions was always my first passion and joy. We were often working in the day and at the church or with people ministering at night and on weekends. In 1991 we left North America for Asia and served until 2014 as missionaries with the International Mission Board.
2. How did you come to Christ?
From birth I was in church, hearing the Bible stories. I grew up in a middle class home, with relative comfort and in a culture that celebrated self-sufficiency, self-pre-occupation and autonomy. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams, and find happiness and success in those things I could accomplish. Although I prayed to receive Christ at the age of eight and was baptised, I was not growing in Christlikeness. I was often defensive, protective and would minimise sin.
Romans 8:6 says “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” This scripture made me realise that while I may have appeared to have it all together on the surface, inwardly I had my own fears and knew I was living a lie. And so I began a long journey of separating myself from worldly pursuits and fixing my eyes on Christ, “the author and perfector of my faith”. This journey took me through many changes and eventually meant giving all my plans over to God.
After many years I look back and realise I didn't need to pursue my dreams. I only needed to pursue Christ. The life he chose for me is much more than any dream in the heart of a young self-centered girl.
3. Could you share with us your spiritual discipline or habits and what has been helpful for your growth/encouragement?
Checking my heart, daily, and realigning it with His word. Recognising I am a sinner in need of the Gospel and seeking to nest my identity in God’s grace instead of my performance or worldly expectations.
Every day I seek to be reminded that today is another opportunity to die to myself. True change takes place in me when I focus on knowing the One who truly deserves my worship.
4. Could you share with us what areas are you are serving now or has served in the church and what have you learnt from them?
As a pastor's wife I believe my role is found in Hebrews 10:24 – to constantly be looking for how I can stir up others to love and good works. Sometimes it may be through supporting and helping someone lead their first Bible study, to meet and pray with sisters as they learn to wait on God or just helping Ian with pre-marital counselling. I am just serving in ways that I believe can be honouring to God and seek to support my husband’s ministry, and help him find sanctuary in our relationship on days when his heart is sore and weary.
I believe it is not the responsibility of one or two people to shoulder the entire ministry of the church. I feel God has called me to help others find their place. My passion is to help others use their God-given gifts to minister to the body of Christ and to encourage others to be intentional in structuring life so as to give our best energies and attention of Christ’s Kingdom.
My first year at GBC I have spent most of my time just trying to learn names and who is related and how all the families are connected. I think I am still learning in year two. I feel so grateful that people have been so gracious when I forget a name or family connection.
5. Tell us something about yourself that many members do not know.
I was a high school gymnastics coach and I love sports.
6. Could you share with us one of your greatest joys and one of your greatest challenges as you support Pastor Ian as a spiritual leader of the church?
An unexpected joy is that I have sometimes gone into a relationship thinking I was going to help or bless someone else and instead, God used that relationship to really bless and strengthen me.
I find a lot of joy serving the Lord with Ian. He is certainly not perfect but he has a big heart for God’s glory and he truly loves people. My greatest challenge is that Ian and I are very different. He doesn’t try to hide his imperfections, and has a much greater tolerance for risk. I have some pride issues and don’t like to talk about my sin or admit my struggles. God is reminding me that all of my righteousness is borrowed and I can only boast in Christ.
7. How can we pray for you and encourage you?
Being married to a pastor is challenging and after so many years I still struggle. Pray that God will continue to grow me in the areas of humility, patience, to have greater faith, more godly grief, more compassion, and strength to endure.