Billy Graham Center

Interview with Lyndon Roth Hess - Collection 228

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Lyndon Roth Hess

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Transcript 1

Brief Description.
Taped interview with Hess in which he describes his missionary service in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) between 1932 and 1975 as a teacher of missionary children, assistant to village pastors and other work with the Lunda people. Topics include cultural influences on missionary children, the national African church, tribal tensions, Marxism, Muslim influence, medical work, and Africa's needs and strengths. This tape is part of the Missionary Sources Collection.

Collection 228 [March 24, 2000]
Hess, Lyndon Roth; 1909-1994
Interview; 1982
Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Lyndon Roth Hess was born in Buffalo, New York, on January 24, 1909. He was reared in a Christian home and attended Wheaton College between 1927 and 1931 where he trained as a teacher. While on campus, Hess was involved in the sports program, and was captain of the track and cross-country teams. He also met and married Ruth Edna De Velde, a fellow student at Wheaton. Both Lyndon and Ruth made the decision to become missionaries, and to work as teachers of children of missionaries. As preparation after their graduation in 1932, they attended Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, and left for the mission field in Africa in November of that year under the sponsorship of the Brethren Assemblies.

The Hesses were assigned to the Sakeji School, which contained grades one through eight, in Northern Rhodesia. When the British supervisor of the school left to work with evangelism and church planting, Hess replaced him. In addition to his teaching and supervisory responsibilities, Hess also did some pastoral work in the villages with the Lunda tribe, helping local congregations and assisting in establishing new churches. In 1964 the country gained independence and was renamed Zambia, but the work of the school continued uninterrupted. In 1968, in recognition of his work in Africa, Lyndon was named Wheaton Alumnus of the Year.

During their years in Africa, the Hesses had five children: James, Paul, David, Margaret, and Elizabeth. Lyndon and Ruth Hess remained with the school until 1975, when Lyndon resigned his post because of a suspected heart problem. When examination revealed no serious health difficulties, the Hesses returned to Zambia to resume pastoral work with the Lunda tribe.

The Hesses retired in 1982 and lived in Wheaton until they moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1994 where Lyndon died on June 29, 1994.

Scope and Content

Lyndon Hess was interviewed by James Hansen on Octover 27, 1982 at the Hess home in Wheaton. The dates covered by the interview are between 1927 and 1982, and topics describe Hess's years at Wheaton College and work in Zambia teaching children of missionaries and doing pastoral work with the Lunda tribe. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. This index is keyed to the cassette copy of the original reel-to-reel tape.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
00:30 Growing up in Christian home; Wheaton College, 1927-31; 43 years working with education for children of missionaries; favorite teachers at Wheaton; Dr. Leedy, Dr. Straw, Ed Coray
03:30 Cross-country at Wheaton
04:00 Dr. Willard Aldrich, John Hall
05:40 Effect of Great Depression on Wheaton College
06:13 Decision about going to mission field with his wife; awareness of need for teachers for missionary children; influence of Leonard Gammon
10:00 Preparatory studies at Moody; decision to go to Sakeji School, Northern Rhodesia; departure in November, 1932; Brethren methods of evangelizing
14:00 Hospital on Kalani Hill and British staffers
15:00 Inland travel in the Belgian Congo (Zaire)
16:00 Houses and equipment
17:50 Means of financial support
19:20 Roland Nightingale, his administrative and missionary activities; Hess's replacement of Nightingale; working with Misses Kelly and Hodgkins to learn British teaching method
22:00 Reminiscences of outstanding students; Logan family; Horton family; Wilson family
25:00 Reactions of MKs (missionary kids) to their schooling and life away from the United States
27:00 Hess's difficulty with language; teaching and evangelizing; memorization of verses for talks
31:00 Languages and tribes in Angola, Zaire, Zambia; excellence of biblical translations available from past generations
33:30 Native churches, preaching elders, gospel meetings; need for lay preachers
35:30 Effects of national independence on missionaries; new views of church planting; ethnic churches and African Evangelical Fellowship
39:00 Contacts with Watch Tower groups; comparisons of Brethren and Watch Tower and African reactions to both
40:30 Relationship with U.S.-based mission board (Christian Missions in Many Lands); on-site missionary conferences and relationship with Brethren Assemblies
42:03 Racial tensions between tribes; treatment of other tribal newcomers in Northern Rhodesia
44:00 Excellence of British government and rapport with the British officials; support for mission work because of its benefits to the people; incident of circular letter
46:00 Zambian African National Congress and the Unit Party; Dr. Kaunda's leadership qualities; Unit party officials
46:45 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Recapitulation of side 1 from 46:00-46:45
00:45 Disadvantages of one party from western perspective; African reactions; curbs on harassments of missionaries
02:47 Nkumbula and Northern Rhodesia African Congress; problems with refusal to accept criticism of the government and lack of opposition voice
04:22 Effects on the mission when Rhodesia became a republic in 1964; loss of British efficiency and difficulty of transition
05:22 Excellence of British government and relative success of the Africans; persistence of prevailing African tribal customs and attitudes; disappearance of game
06:23 Lack of Marxist influence in Zambian tribal groups; Muslims; penetration of Chris tian ideas as measure of behavior for unbelievers
08:31 African reactions to Marxist pamphlets on labor; African love of his land
10:09 Episode of the visiting entomologist
11:11 African attitude toward the United States; adverse picture presented by American movies; lack of knowledge of U.S. aid contrasting to Russian publicity of its activit ies
13:08 Kalani hospital l5 miles from the school; excellence of facilities and programs and gospel activities
14:03 Hess's medical assistance when none available; taking women in labor to the hospital
15:12 Tuberculosis as most common medical problem; gradual building of resistance and treatment with drugs
16:09 Slow transition of Africans from dependency on witch doctors to use of medicine and doctors; breaking down of prejudice after cures; witchcraft expensive, much advice about these
17:39 (Break in tape)
18:59 Lack of ordination for Brethren pastors; methods of selecting African preachers; methods of government certification in Zaire through the missionary
19:38 Excellence of African Evangelical Fellowship Bible school; efforts to secure a comp lete staff of teachers with degrees
0:39 Friendly interdenominational relationships with AEF, Methodists, Baptists, Penteco stals because of education of their children at Sakeji
21:45 Friendly relationships with Catholic missionaries; their success in training laymen for the priesthood
24:01 Reasons for the decision to resign from Sakeji School and return to the United States; send-off celebration
25:45 Effects of World War II in Zambia; successful improvisations for food and supplies
26:47 Freedom from terrorist activity; Angolan group which went through Zambia to fight French troops and result
29:27 Independence in 1964; use of name of Zambese River for new country; visits of government officials to explain new republic
30:53 Encounters with Dr. Kaunda and other leaders
31:52 Hopes that the government will not form only one church in Zambia; success of Brethren Assemblies and growth of new churches
34:46 Present orientation of Zambia to the West, possibilities of change; opposition of the Marxists to missionaries because of Zambian trust of missionaries; illustration of custody of money
36:07 Great need of expanded educational opportunities for Africans to keep abreast of progress
37:50 Impact of God's will in Africa in spite of loosely organized Brethren Assemblies' mission work; impact of biblical translations compared to Reformation period
39:45 Advice to future missionaries to regard the call as a lifetime commitment and learn to love the people and culture
42:02 Concluding remarks about satisfaction of obeying the call, loving the Africans, and great need for the gospel there
43:58 End of side 2


The materials for this collection were received by the Center in October 1982 from Lyndon Hess.

Location: Tape File
August 14, 1985
Accession #82-144
Frances L. Brocker
J. Hansen
J. Nasgowitz

Accession # 82-144
Type of Material: Audio tapes

The following item is located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel tape, 3-3/4 speed, 90 minutes. Two sides. Interview with Lyndon Hess by James Hansen. Discussion of years at Wheaton College and 43-year career as a teacher in Zambia. Recorded on October 27, 1982.

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Last Revised: 2/25/03
Expiration: indefinite