Billy Graham Center

Interview with Sarah Margaret "Sally" Bell - Collection 213

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Sarah Margaret "Sally" Bell

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.
Oral history interview of about 100 minutes, in which Sally Bell describes her mission work with radio station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, 1965 to 1976. This tape is part of the Missionary Sources Collection.

Collection 213 [March 23, 2000]
Bell, Sarah Margaret "Sally"; 1939-
Interview; 1982

Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Sarah Margaret "Sally" Bell was born January 6, 1939, in Carlisle, England (near the Scottish border), the daughter of James and Sarah Price Wallace Bell. In the early 1940s, the Bells moved to Kingston-on-Thames, near London, but were soon evacuated back to Carlisle because of the war. By the time Sally was eight, the family had settled in Kingston, and she attended grammar school at New Malden.

In February 1952 James Bell emigrated to Canada, where he worked for a tool and die company in Toronto. He was shortly transferred to Buffalo, New York, and it was for this destination that Mrs. Bell sailed with her daughter and son in October aboard the Queen Elizabeth II. They docked in New York City, and traveled to Buffalo by train. In 1954, the Bells settled in the suburb of Hamburg.

Sally Bell graduated from Frontier Central High School in 1956. In the autumn of her senior year (1955), she attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Toronto, and there received Christ as her savior. Despite family opposition, she attended Buffalo Bible Institute, working nearly full time for the Buffalo Evening News to support herself. She completed the Institute's three-year course in 1960 and took a job with Morrison Steel Company in Buffalo. Through her church, she met Joe Coughlin of Christian Service Brigade, and in 1961 he persuaded Sally to move to Chicago where she was employed by CSB as a secretary. She moved in 1962 to Wheaton, Illinois, when CSB relocated there.

In Wheaton, Sally joined the Wheaton Bible Church, where she began to receive reminders of a commitment made several years earlier to become a missionary. An application to Sudan Interior Mission was met with advice to receive further training. But through Wheaton Bible Church she was put in touch with Abe Van der Puy of the radio mission HCJB in Quito, Ecuador, and she was soon hired to work with that mission. Sally left Wheaton for candidates' school in June 1964, and went from there to Costa Rica in August for eight months of language school. She arrived in Quito in April 1965. At HCJB she worked as a secretary successively in the Evangelism and Television departments before moving to Field Services, involved with personnel.

She had several short furloughs, the longest of which was from April to November 1969. She was home briefly in 1970-1971 at the time of her mother's death. In 1976, Sally resigned from HCJB and returned to the States for medical reasons. She was offered and accepted a position as secretary of Wheaton Bible Church. A succession of operations from 1976 to 1980 culminated in August 1980 with a stroke, which deprived her of memory, speech, and movement in her right side. Through therapy and over time, all were recovered. As of 1982, Sally was preparing to return to Quito in January 1983.

Scope and Content

Sally Bell was interviewed by Galen Wilson on May 10, 1982, at the Billy Graham Center. The time period covered by the interviews is 1956-1982. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to a cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
01:15 Introduction
01:45 Personal background
02:15 Senior year in high school--Billy Graham Crusade in Toronto, 1995--Sally experiences salvation, realization that God was calling her to mission field, no idea of which mission or where, parents' objection to her going to a Bible school, lessons in learning to trust God despite parents' opposition, emotional battles
04:45 Story of how she got to the Graham crusade service, invited by a friend, the salvation experience, Graham's message
06:30 Experience of going to church in England as a child, seeking God, fulfillment of finding Him at the crusade
07:45 Living in Buffalo, NY after graduating from Bible School, told that Christian Service Brigade in Chicago was looking for a secretary, moved to Wheaton with CSB and began attending Wheaton Bible Church, gradual realization that early commitment to mission field must be followed, met Abe Van der Puy and applied to HCJB in Quito
10:15 Accepted for mission work in April 1964, left for language school in August, raising support money, rationale of support raising
12:15 Language school in Costa Rica, "the happiest months of my life," impossibility of getting accent perfect or learning all idioms, nationals appreciate fluency in language on part of missionaries
15:00 Costa Rica prepares her culturally for Ecuador, "a good stopping-off point," language differences between Ecuador and Costa Rica noted
16:45 Arrival in Quito--early feeling of being ill prepared, impressed with warmth of welcome by other missionaries, description of staff--about 250 persons in all
19:00 Her great appreciation for the nationals--their warmth and goodness in midst of personal poverty, some missionaries avoid contact with nationals but most make a point of mingling
21:00 Amount of opportunity for personal interaction in a radio ministry, Evangelism Department distributes radios permanently tuned to HCJB--description of going into countryside with radios and meeting natives who have cash but nothing to spend it on in midst of poverty-level existence, Ecuadorian agricultural economy
24:30 Evangelism Department's day trips in radius of ten to fifteen miles from Quito, Medical Department's weekend and week-long jaunts, decision for Christ made at meetings held in conjunction with medical visits
26:00 How HCJB has managed to keep on the good side of government when so many have been asked to leave (e.g. Wycliffe asked to be gone by May 1982), contingency plans made in event they SHOULD be asked to go
29:15 Clarence Jones--description and memories of him
31:00 Reuben Larson compared and contrasted to Jones
31:45 Description of Sally's service at HCJB in Evangelism Department, then Television Department, and finally administration--job found in being able to spend time with people, particularly nationals
35:15 Personal evangelism with hairdresser Rosita, in jail for murder of brother-in-law, Rosita accepts Christ, still not very bothered by her act of murder, Latin mind does not value life as highly as the American
38:45 Difficulty of a Western mind in dealing with Latin values, necessity nevertheless of meeting nationals on ground of their values and hierarchies, Latins and Americans both proud, but proud of different things--for instance, nationalism is not a big emotion in Ecuador
43:00 Her anger at racism (Spanish vs. Indian) which is taken for granted in Ecuador, "national" means Spanish blood, mission tries not to differentiate between races, but still must not get too far ahead of local custom

T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
00:45 Opportunities outside of HCJB context for evangelizing: Sally begins a Pioneer Girls project in Quito, some girls are daughters of American embassy workers, also has opportunity to work with embassy wives in Bible studies, etc.
03:30 Sally counsels at a local crusade with a national who just discovered that her husband was keeping another wife, Sally's own reaction is too violent to let her counsel the woman and she turns her over to a more experienced counselor
06:00 No resentment that mission time often encroaches on "personal" time
08:15 Status of women in Ecuador, story of a woman on the bus whose husband ill-used her (by American standards), women looked down upon, men expected to have extra-marital affairs, for this reason single missionary women are not encouraged to fraternize with and marry Ecuadorian men
11:45 Sally's interaction with national men--care necessary to assure that it is not misinterpreted, even Christian men find it difficult to reorganize thinking of generations on the topic of marital fidelity
14:15 Efforts of mission to influence culture for its own good in accordance with Christian (not United States cultural) principles
15:15 Break for end of reel
15:30 Missionary relations with each other, HCJB achieves a warm caring group with the "family" feel
19:45 Housing in Quito: HCJB is a compound, but missionaries no long live clustered about it and are spread out throughout the city, Sally rents apartment from mission
22:00 Maintaining own culture when surrounded by a foreign one
23:45 Political Ecuador, high food prices bring on civil unrest in 1969, HCJB locks gates during unrest to guard against potential problems from emotional outburst, missionaries not generally resented when it is discovered that missionaries make less than nationals employed by HCJB
27:00 Customs headaches: one tale of a piano that disappeared between Panama and Ecuador, customs was neither upset nor apologetic
29:30 Change of values in a person when he becomes a Christian--but this must be continually worked at because it is easy to slip back into Catholic value system, Ecuadorian Catholicism very different from that of America, relations between missionaries and the Catholic Church
33:30 Witchcraft practiced in jungle areas among Indians, instance of a white man brought in Quito hospital possessed by demons
36:00 Dynamics of personal witnessing--difficulties involved in taking first step, necessity of doing own personal study in the Word before witnessing to others, difficulties in getting nationals to trust missionary as one on a par rather than someone wealthy and on an unobtainable plane, Sally's ease in relating to Rosita as young, single and female--points in common do a lot to cement the relationship
41:45 Illiteracy of a woman to whom Sally gave a New Testament
42:30 Leaving Ecuador in 1976 for reasons of surgery, subsequent job as secretary at Wheaton Bible Church
43:45 Preparations for returning to Quito in 1982, reasons for going back, experiences in conquering medical problems to permit her return
44:30 End of side 2

T1 - side 3
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 2
01:45 Continuation on conquering medical problems
04:30 Typewriting: Spanish vs. English
05:45 Parents' idea of her mission work as time went on and relations with parents over the years, father comes to visit her in Ecuador after mother's death
08:15 Own experience with family not in favor of mission helps Sally to appreciate those in Ecuador whose families are opposed to their Christianity
10:00 Adjustment of coming back to United States in 1969 for furlough: more difficulty adjusting again to U.S. lifestyle than it had been in adjusting to Ecuador in 1965, genuine culture shock
13:45 End of tape


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in May 1982 from Sally Bell.

Accession 82-67
August 19, 1982
Galen R. Wilson

Accession 82-67
Type of Material: Audio Tape

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 100 minutes. Two sides. Interview with Sarah Margaret "Sally" Bell by Galen R. Wilson, May 10, 1982. Discussion of personal conversion, Christian Service Brigade in Chicago, HCJB in Ecuador, characteristics of radio ministry, personal evangelism opportunities, racism in Ecuador, women in Ecuador, stories from time in Quito, readjustment to American lifestyle.

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