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Christian Businessman Used Struggle with Depression to Minister to Mental Illness Sufferers

  • Veronica Neffinger
    Religious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
  • 2016 Sep 16
  • Comments

A successful Christian businessman and pastor who struggled with depression has made a lasting impact on how mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression are treated.

The Washington Post reports that Howard E. Butt Jr. passed away Sunday evening at the age of 89. He left an important legacy, especially in regard to how mental illness is treated.

Butt’s family owned a growing grocery business, called H-E-B. Butt helped manage this business, but he also became a popular preacher. He even appeared alongside the Rev. Billy Graham.

Underneath all his success, however, Butt recognized that he struggled with “all kinds of anxieties and fears.” He also faced frequent battles with depression.

“I couldn’t tell anybody,” he later wrote. “In Baptist or evangelical circles, you didn’t flaunt your relationship with a psychiatrist; you hid it.”

Eventually, Butt decided that mental illness was something that needed to be addressed in the Christian community.

His parents had given him 1,937 acres of Hill Country ranch land in Texas. Butt decided to build a facility on the land that would minister to those who struggled with ailments such as anxiety and depression.

Butt began speaking candidly of his own struggle and taught the importance of resting and being part of a nurturing community.

His vision for the lodge he built on the ranch land was to be a place of rest and restoration for those who came; it was a place to reconnect with others, and with God.

The pioneering work Butt did in opening up the discussion of mental illness, especially in the Christian community, continues today. 


Publication date: September 16, 2016