Billy Graham Center

Interview of Helen Nowack Frame - Collection 255

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Helen Nowack Frame

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

List Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes

Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Brief Description
Two interviews with Frame in which she discusses her childdhood growing up in China, decision to become a missionary for Overseas Missionary Fellowship, years in China, leaving China in 1951 with her husband Raymond and their children and resettlement in the Philippines, teaching at Faith Academy, development of the Bible Institute, return and activities in Wheaton, Interviews recorded on 9/9/83 and 9/13/83. For more information, please see guide. Transcripts are available for the tapes in this collection. Vol: 2 Reels of Audio Tape

[December 1, 2008]
Collection 255
Frame, Helen Nowack; 1908-1999
Interviews; 1983
Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Helen Grace Nowack Frame was born on February 25, 1908, in Honan, China. Her father, William Henry Nowack, and mother, Katherine Plantz Nowack, were independent missionaries to China. After her mother's death, William Nowack married Alice Broughton. Helen studied at the American School, Kukung, Honan, and the family's church background was interdenominational.

In 1926 Helen returned to the states to enroll in Wheaton College, where she graduated in 1930 as a math major. Following graduation she enrolled at Moody Bible Institute, where she made the decision to become a missionary for China Inland Mission in the same year as Raymond Frame, the man who was to become her husband. They met in China and were married in 1936.

After a furlough in 1946, the Frames returned to take charge of a language school near Shanghai, later moved to Shanghai, but they were evacuated with other CIM missionaries in 1950 from the mainland. They made the decision to work with Chinese living in Manila and were stationed at the Bible Institute of the Philippines, founded in 1957, later to become Bible Seminary of the Philippines as the enrollment enlarged. The Frames remained in the Philippines until 1977, during which time Raymond Frame also pastored a Chinese church in Manila. The Frames had two children, born in 1941 and 1944 in Canada and Pennsylvania respectively. They retired to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, in 1983. Mrs. Frame died in Lancaster on November 29, 1999.

Scope and Content

Helen Nowack Frame was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on September 9 and 13, 1983, at her home in Chicago. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
00:30 Attendance at Wheaton College, 1926-1930
00:45 Application to Overseas Missionary Fellowship while at Moody Bible Institute
01:15 First term of nine years; language school; marriage in Honan
02:15 Ray Frame's work in out stations; teaching phonetic script; high motivation of those instructed
03:30 Stay in U.S. of five years because of breakout of Japanese war during furlough; pastorate in British Columbia; return to Shanghai and work in language school until December, 1950, and evacuation
05:00 Transfer to Philippines; work in Chinese-Christian school 6-7 years; starting Bible School of the Philippines; stay until 1977
08:00 Growing up in China; illness from Mother's malaria; father's love of Chinese; being sent to school; bandits; mother's death while Helen at boarding school; description of the school
11:30 Summer resort where family stayed; cities where father worked
12:30 Stepmother and living in other cities
13:15 Lack of other children for play and confinement in compound
13:45 Games and activities; Charles Roberts family and children
14:45 Father's independent mission because of health problems made him unacceptable to boards
15:30 Ebenezer Mission
15:45 Helen's baptism at 14 and slow knowledge of salvation, reliance on God
17:15 Decision while at Moody to join the 200 being sent by China Inland Mission; acceptance for her and sister Esther
18:30 Influences of training at Lutheran School in China; memorization, classmates, confirmation
20:15 Study in the Lutheran American School from age 11 to graduation from high school
20:45 Differences between sister Ruth and Helen's academic abilities; love of sports
21:15 Value of home study, furloughs in America for study in college
21:45 Similarity of course work in U.S. and China's school; stress on Reformation in Lutheran school
22:15 Love of mathematics; math as major at Wheaton College
22:45 Good preparation for Wheaton; difficult adjustment to American culture and shyness; working for expenses though tuition free for missionary children
23:45 Father's work in church planting; first contacts from street chapel after difficulty finding property; man came in saying he was Christian and wanted to be delivered from opium smoke; shut him up until he was cured; risky to do this; was delivered, in debt, had property, wanted to sell; was able to get property in city from this man, impressed by cure, and permission given
26:30 Chinese continuation of the work after Americans left because of Japanese war; leaving 1940 when Japanese pushed into province; episode of bayonet through the window on Sunday morning while preparing to leave empty city except for those who had fled to their compound; Ray's asking for protection for the compound because America not fighting; placards promised to keep soldiers out; Japanese leaving
31:15 Father's difficulty leaving West China; hiding in tunnels, bombs and air raid shelters, damage to church
33:15 Father's arriving in north China, 1905, under Mr. Holding; leaving the mission because of personality problems; contact with Mr. Conway of OMF; transfer to Beyong? because of nervous problems of father; sister Ruth's birth in the states
34:30 Ruth at Wheaton College; Helen's arrival as Ruth graduated, 1926
35:00 Limitations on activities at Wheaton; attendance at College Church; membership in Wheaton's literary society; interest in athletics
36:15 Initial culture shock because of childhood in China; Ruth and Frances Elliott and sharing fourth floor in cheapest dorm on campus; jobs paying 35 cents an hour; living with President Buswell's sister-in-law and mother-in-law, Alice Spaulding and contacts since then.
39:00 Buswell as president of Wheaton; his working on Campus Day; Helen's shyness as handicap
40:00 Favorite teachers, Dr. Straw, Dr. Dow (English), German teacher (no name); difficulty in English classes
40:45 Learning Chinese as children; few contacts with servants
41:15 Good spiritual atmosphere at Wheaton; chapels special speakers; testimony and singing on Sunday nights in Pierce
42:15 No memory of mission groups except Student Volunteers
43:00 Wheaton's training of value on mission field except for her lack of scholarship proficiency; profound impression of a Christian school, yet not as different for her because of training in China
44:15 Attendance at Moody; lack of money to attend elsewhere and need of Bible training; mission calling for 20 and acceptance; Edith Torrey's Bible class; Torrey's remembrance of her name years later
46:00 End of side 1

T1 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of side 2
00:05 Overlap from side 1
01:00 Choice of Overseas Missionary Fellowship because of Ruth's decision to go; change of view about faith mission in adulthood; stepmother's testimony about God's care for 90 years after being orphaned at four
02:30 Usefulness of Moody training; Mr. Page's CIM monthly prayer meetings; Betty Scott and John Stam; good fellowship
03:45 Decision to answer call for 200 because of sister Esther; being dissuaded from secretarial course by retired missionary
04:45 Moody students who responded, Faith Leeuwenberg, Betty Scott, John Stam, Esther and Helen; no memory of where call issued
05:30 Procedures for application; going to Philadelphia for interviews by staff; classes in orientation, mission policies, basic Chinese phonetics
06:30 Travel to Vancouver by train to sail from there; separate boats for men and women; strict rules for women
07:15 Language training from Chinese teachers; distributing tracts and difficulties with dialect different from Honan area
09:15 Desire to join sisters in Gansu, northwestern province; assignment in Honan and moving during first years
10:00 Difficulty of evangelization work because of initial shyness; teaching phonetics and need to learn to read Chinese without bilingual help; husband's language abilities
11:30 First visit to parents after her return to China; father's giving her away in marriage as rare event for adult missionary kids
13:00 First station small church in eastern part, east of railroad
13:15 Short stay at first station; later return there after marriage; Nora Conway from New Zealand, born during Boxer Rebellion; description of hiding in attic to save life when she was a small child
14:45 End of tape

T1 - side 3 (side 2 of the original reel)

00:00 Beginning of tape
01:00 Work in Honan and the revival there under Norwegian missionary Maria Munson; work of Pentecostal mission, the Jesus Family; changes in Chinese men's treatment of their wives upon conversion; teaching women how to read the Bible
06:45 Meetings with future husband, engagement, marriage at summer resort while on vacation; Chinese marriage customs
13:30 Work after marriage; husband traveling to outstations with Chinese teacher who helped with language; first furlough; ready to go back when Pearl Harbor was bombed; daughter and son born; returned to China after five years to take over the language school
18:30 Changes in China upon return; expected difficulty to get food, but mission received tons of surplus food when the troops left; clean up and building new buildings as result of the war
24:30 End of tape

T2 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
00:30 Impressions of China on return; living in Shanghai; husband's need to get back inland to get buildings ruined by Japanese ready for language school; good quarters in OMF compound; big stocks of army supplies of canned goods; eating mincemeat in every form
03:15 Administration building and living quarters in compound; common dining room; quarters for the Frame family in the compound; servants and the predominantly British staff; Dr. Adolph in the hospital; Helen's miscarriage about 1950 and subsequent hospitalization for three months. OMF's administration of all of China from the compound; sending stores and haggling over prices of delivery with coolies; excellence of business manager; separate living quarters for resident staff
07:30 Playgrounds for children; lack of much work on compound itself for Chinese of the city; meetings in the city for church work
08:15 Neighborhood description; differences when Communists took over; language school and Gordon Dunn's leadership; watching planes be shot down from the hospital window; Communists' taking advantage of problems following Japanese war
10:45 Description of Communist takeover; fleeing leaders and death of those who stayed; day of prayer and instruction to stay in that day; Communists' orders to population; bedraggled condition of soldiers
13:00 Dealing with Communist leaders; living in Lutheran headquarters off compound when Lutherans left; wonderful protection from God after mission decision to be evacuated.
14:00 Difficulty of American presence for the Chinese believers; difficult job of evacuating 600 missionaries; new headquarters in Hong Kong; inflation's damage to currency from states
17:15 Rental of property to medical group which made funds available to return all missionaries to other stations or to U.S.; rent of Quonset huts from British government to be used for living quarters; help from Christian businessman in Hong Kong; help from British government with cots and blankets
18:45 Permit to get to Hong Kong; street lined with Chinese demonstrating displaying Mao's picture; need to have Chinese to stand behind and guarantee them; crossing bridge for entrance and examination; wonderful feeling of getting to freedom. Mr. Carlburg (Wheaton, IL) who knelt down and kissed ground on other side
20:45 Difficulties for mission leaders; Shanghai a showplace then and not as restricted; bad treatment of some inland missionaries
21:45 Minimal contacts with Communists except when baggage examined; leaders and their contacts
22:15 Complication over baggage; suspicions of all baggage being removed
22:45 Husband's answering of questions about why they were leaving; termination of missionary work except for some who stayed for a year or two; Matthew family which was housebound until allowed out; book called The Reluctant Exodus
24:00 Communist activity inn 1946 in north China; sense of approaching danger in that year; Chiang Kai Shek's with his wife and MacArthur's visit to Kuling while Frames were there; early uprisings in 1926; John and Betty Stam's murder in central China in Anhwei; missions' effort to keep staff away from trouble
27:00 Earlier departure by some; unsuccessful relocation of language school in 1948 to West China; safe evacuation of each missionary except for one man died there because he wouldn't leave
28:30 Varying opinions of missionaries and leadership about remaining in China
29:30 Bishop Houghton's meeting them on arrival in Hong Kong; difficulties of the final decision
30:45 Minimal cultural differences between Americans and British
31:30 General Directors, D.E. Hoste, Heighten, Gibbs; Mr. Sinton; Hoste leadership when she went out; decision about location; Sinton as outstanding prayer warrior
32:45 Friendliness of leaders, even though contacts minimal; Hoste's attempt at humor after their marriage
34:15 Poverty of Chinese in Honan; OMF schools for literacy had been there for a few years; Ray would mix with men who had education; women worked hard to push forward then, many wanted to learn
35:45 Effectiveness of evangelistic posters; use of posters to help illiterate; phonetic classes for women
36:45 Resistance from the educated; post-Boxer Rebellion Chinese relationships with missionaries (1900); treaties made and subsequent ease of missionary work much easier; healing and exorcism of church members; lack of hospitals for these and response of conversion from examples of God's power at work
38:45 Frames' visits to out-stations and demon-possessed brought to the mission station; dramatic change of apparent fifty-year-old woman who was really a young girl after healing; demon who went from one person to another; many manifestations and idol worship; two boys refused to eat for days and diagnosis of demon-possession; Mennonites' prayers and healing of boys' appetites next day
41:45 Methods of exorcism; exorcism as one of God's contemporary works in China to help in conversion; needs when Bible isn't available; counteracting influence of evil
43:45 Description of posters and symbolism; use of John 3:16
45:45 Winter climates and padded gown and shoes; enthusiasm of the women to learn; literate helping illiterate; services with hymns and learning characters from pointing to hymn words; no choirs inland
48:00 End of side 1

T2 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of side 2
00:05 Overlap from side 1
01:45 Numbers of singers
02:30 Communal praying and testimonies
02:45 Length of services
03:15 Description of the reasons for foot binding, physical problems, cultural asset
04:30 Martha Pohnert and the girls' school; refusal to accept any who bound feet with free education as incentive; accepted only if girls didn't bind their feet; gradual change and government's support of discarding the custom. Gladys Aylward speeches to assist in informing about advantage to all not to bind feet; resistance in country areas
06:00 Martha Pohnert with Helen's parents' mission
07:30 Lack of formal theological education in Helen's area; father's Bible school for short-term study; father's romanized characters and his notes available for Center if desired; father's scholarship of the bible
08:45 Travel in wheel barrows, oxcarts, mule carts; three-day trip to railroad station by mule cart, thirty miles a day, ninety miles; walking as choice rather than riding in; slower ox carts
09:30 Differences between city and country Chinese
09:45 Availability of goods in city stores; types of merchandise; ordering from the states
11:15 Kitchen equipment; availability of clothes but lack of choices of colors in cloth
12:00 Chinese reserve in attitudes toward Americans; attitudes of Communists toward resident Americans; evidence of more expressed hatred shown in inland areas
13:15 Little contact with Japanese before America's involvement; sanctuary in British area of Shanghai; saying goodbye to her parents; Ray Frame's entertaining Japanese officers and their quizzing; help of Korean boy in getting food; burning homes and "exploding" bamboo
17:15 Buddhist ancestor worship and customs; idols and idol worship; Chinese New Year writings
19:45 Removal of all traces of ancestor and idol worship after conversion, though not without delay
20:15 Cooperation in arranging mission areas with other groups
20:45 Common worship with rotating leadership at summer resorts and large attendance
21:30 Pentecostal Chinese groups; step-mother's desire for gift of tongues
23:15 Father's attitude toward tongues; attempts at imitation
24:00 Contacts with Watchman Nee; problems at the end of his career; Jesus group; ambivalence of family's attitude toward speaking in tongues
26:30 Transfer to Philippines for 1 years after Hong Kong; reason for longer term of service in China; Ray Frame's decision to work in Christian high school; move to Cezon City for Grace Christian High School; plans for addition of college curriculum
29:30 Differences working with Chinese and Filipino children and missing China as childhood home
30:45 Filipino resentment of Chinese business successes and reasons why Filipinos had difficulty
31:30 Segregation of Chinese and Filipinos in social and educational situations; parallel in American setting between Chinese from mainland and States
32:30 Ray Frame's inability to represent OMF in Philippines because of duties; Dr. Broomhall's writings on China and relationship to the Taylor family
33:45 Surveys made of Far East countries to be used for decisions about re-location after leaving China
34:45 Frames' children taught by Ruth Elliott; attending Grace Christian high school and length of time there
36:15 Raising their children, education and problems with communal living and discipline; young Raymond and need for special attention
37:15 Decision to remain on the field instead of returning to Canada
38:00 Prolonged furlough after 1953; returning to Wheaton in 1962 because of children's needs
38:30 Start of the Bible Institute; appointment of principals from Britain, Malaysia; Ray's term as principal; expansion from high school to seminary program; Asian Theological Seminary; unfilled hope to train Chinese to return to the mainland
42:15 End of tape

T2 - side 3 (side 2 of original reel)

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Helen and Ian Anderson and their teaching, musical gifts; Helen's lack of confidence in her ability as a teacher
01:30 Lack of learning to speak Tagalog; Wycliffe's Summer Institute of Linguistics
02:15 Communists and political conditions as she observed them
03:00 Before and after martial law in Manila
04:00 Political and professional strictures on Chinese in the Philippines; difficulties of practicing professions as reason for coming to the U.S.
05:15 Philippine maids, their work and problems with husbands who need to be supported
06:15 Contrasts and description of Chinese in the Philippines and on the mainland
07:45 Situations of Christian Chinese at the Bible Institute; problems when converting to Christianity and God's provision
09:00 Evangelists and evangelism in the Philippines; Billy Graham's visit on Chinese New Year
10:00 Graham's visit with Christian leaders; lost tape recordings of this
10:30 Reactions to Graham's speaking; attendance by many Protestant Christians in primarily Catholic country; priest's refusal to allow attendance
12:00 [Break for telephone call]
12:15 Ray Frame's writing of prayer letters until recently
12:30 Irregularity of letters; broadcasting in Edmonton and Ray's preaching for support (50 Clubs); travel in Alberta
15:15 Frames' furlough visits to families who supported them; visit to woman with multiple sclerosis and the reaction
17:45 Numbers of furloughs in the past; reasons for shorter period between furloughs now
18:30 Dismay over decline in behavior and spiritual matter in the states; pleasure at the numbers of dedicated young people and OMF prayer meetings
19:45 Attendance at Northwest Baptist Church; pastor and training; changing congregation and activities
21:45 Change from career missionaries to short term in contemporary mission work; advantage for medical missionaries
24:45 Differences between sacrifices of living conditions in the past and in contemporary settings
26:45 Education of children of missionaries and its development at Faith Academy; difficulties of making friendships with Filipino nationals; British separation for schooling both abroad and in England; problems of acceptance of credits in South Africa, other schools in other countries
28:15 Choice of some families to leave field because of children; being away from China for one year after young Raymond's graduation from high school (voice almost inaudible on tape during this segment)
31:00 Seeing children only once in three years as the normal pattern in early years of the mission; establishment of Chefoo school by Hudson Taylor; ease of flight for family reunion times in contemporary mission service; financial arrangements and friends' ticket for their children
32:30 Need to come home to be with son; financial problems and furlough arrangements with the mission; provision of money to make trip across the ocean; notice of a home available in Wheaton
35:15 Docking in San Diego and Los Angeles; letter with ticket to Wheaton waiting in Los Angeles; Raymond's graduation, living in the house in Wheaton and school year job at Wheaton's "Stupe," about 1962-63
38:30 Differences on Wheaton campus between her student days and the 1960s; Italian singer who gave testimony; listing to chapel while working at the Stupe
38:45 Disputed origin of stone rubbing given to Frames; assistance of Mary Pearl Rinehart Caley (?) to prepare rubbings for hanging; bringing them back from China
41:45 Display of the stone in China by the Communists even though it is a Gospel message
42:15 Closing comments and thanks
42:30 End of tape

These tapes were received at the Billy Graham Center in September 1983.

Accession 83-97
August 13,1986
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz
Revised, January 28, 1997
Janyce H. Nasgowitz

Accession: 83-97
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel. Interview by Paul Ericksen of Helen Nowack Frame on September 9, 1983. Recorded on two sides: Side 1: 3-3/4 ips, 60 minutes. Side 2: 7-1/2 ips, 30 minutes.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, recorded on both sides. Interview by Paul Ericksen of Helen Nowack Frame recorded on September 13, 1983. Side 1: approximately 90 minutes; side 2: approximately 45 minutes.

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