Billy Graham Center

Interview of Raymond Bates Buker Jr. - Collection 262

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Raymond Bates Buker Jr.

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

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


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Brief Description.
Two interviews of Buker conducted by Joel Woodruff, November 1 and 8, 1983. Buker describes his childhood growing up in Burma, his schooling, his decision to become a missionary under Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, language study; evangelization, church planting, translation, and education activities in Pakistan working with Muslims and Marwari tribal people, 1954-1969. Also describes Buker's job as Midwestern and Western campus representative for CBFMS, 1970-1972; relocation from Denver to Wheaton as Personnel Secretary for CBFMS.
Vol: 2 Reels of Audio Tapes

[May 9, 2000]

Collection 262

Buker, Raymond Bates, Jr.; 1925-

Interviews; 1983

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Raymond Bates Buker, Jr., was born on December 26, 1925, in Lewiston, Maine, to Dorothy and Raymond Buker, Sr. His father had been pastor of three Baptist churches in Maine before his son was born. Before Raymond Jr. was a year old, the Buker family became missionaries and moved to Burma in 1926. Buker spent his childhood in Burma, and attended school in Taunggyi, Central Burma. His high school years were spent in Woodstock, India, after a hazardous journey across Japanese-occupied territory in 1941. It was during his studies at Woodstock that Buker made the decision to become a missionary himself. The Buker family returned to the United States in July 1942, when World War II made it too dangerous to stay in Asia.

Buker continued his schooling at Stony Brook High School, Long Island, New York, until 1944, when he entered Wheaton College. While at Wheaton, he headed the cross-country and track teams which were trained by coach Gil Dodds to win national meets. He majored in Anthropology and was President of the International Club. After graduation, he entered Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 1950. While he was serving as a summer pastor in Maine, he met his future wife, Jean McGregor, who was working her way through Providence Bible Institute. They were married after his graduation from seminary.

Buker made application to return to India under the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, partly because of his parents' connection with the Northern Baptist Convention and his father's work with Conservative Baptists in 1943. While waiting for a visa, he attended Hartford Seminary Foundation Kennedy School of Missions. Because visas were not being issued to India at that time, the Bukers were assigned instead to West Pakistan, arriving in Karachi in 1954. From there, Buker went to language school to learn the Sindhi language and, with his wife, joined three other mission families to settle in Larkana, located in southern West Pakistan.

Mission work included evangelization of Muslims, supporting and revitalizing the existing Christian churches in the region, developing Sunday Schools for children and women, education for literacy, correspondence courses, and Bible translation. The Bukers and others also cooperated with other missions to provide Bible schools, schools for missionary children, and production of literature. In addition to work with Muslims, the Bukers evangelized members of the Marwari tribal people, an outcast group shunned by the Muslims. Buker learned the unwritten Marwari language, similar to Sindhi, produced an alphabet, and translated the Gospel of John. He also prepared a hymn book and tracts.

During their first furlough in 1959, Buker returned to Massachusetts and then moved to Colorado to teach a course on Islam and engage in studies at Denver Seminary. The Bukers returned to Larkana, where they remained in the same types of mission work until 1969. Between 1970 and 1972 Buker assumed the duties of the Midwestern and Western campus representative for the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society, working out of Denver. In 1972 the family moved to Wheaton, Illinois, and Buker became Personnel Secretary for CBFMS. In this capacity he worked to generate growth and interest in short term and life term missionary careers. He also processed applications, counseled applicants and children of CBFMS missionaries attending school in the United States.

The Bukers had five children: Merelyn, Carolyn, Stephen, Benjamin and Timothy. As of 1983 they lived in Wheaton, Illinois.

Scope and Content

Raymond Buker, Jr., was interviewed by Joel Woodruff on November 1 and 8, 1983, at the Billy Graham Center. The events described in the interviews occurred between 1925 and 1983. 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
00:11 Date and town of birth; moving to Burma, 1926, to the Golden Triangle
01:15 Schooling in Burma, India; quality of schooling and friends among schoolmates and nationals
04:00 Sports; advantages of less "civilization"; closeness of family and Christian environment
05:45 British rule and independence for Burma, India; difficulties since that time
07:30 High school in India; Hinduism
08:45 Problems during World War II; fleeing into India over Japanese-occupied territory inBurma
10:15 Five week travel period to refugee center at Assam
11:30 False report of death of parents in Burma; reunion in Woodstock, India
12:45 Return to U.S. from Bombay on troop transport
13:15 Trip around South Africa with other missionaries without military protection
14:30 Remaining high school years at Stony Brook, New York
15:00 Difference between the school in India and Stony Brook; Dr. Frank Gaebelein, headmaster
16:15 Culture shock; materialism, different values, fast pace
17:15 His personal dedication to Christ at Stony Brook
18:00 Dr. Gaebelein's influence, abilities
18:45 Reasons for choosing Wheaton College
19:30 Acceptance; first impressions; contrast with Stony Brook and attitudes of non-Christian students
21:00 Excellence of previous schooling as preparation; required courses
22:00 Anthropology; high quality of professors and training; Dr. Grigolia
22:45 Coaches Gil Dodds and Ed Coray
25:15 National competitions; playing Notre Dame, University of Pennsylvania; budget problems of the sports program
26:30 Duties as captain of teams
27:15 Witnessing opportunities during sports competitions; prayer times
29:15 Running as a freshman against national champions
30:15 Student support and College support of successful teams competing nationally
31:15 Classmates; Art Johnston, co-captain of track team
32:00 Social life; size and quality of Foreign Mission Fellowship; Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, Nate Saint; trips into Skid Row, Chicago
34:45 Other activities; presidency of young people's group, Baptist Church; work
35:30 Students' involvement with local churches
36:00 Daily chapel and special services; Dr. Edman's replacement of speaker and concern over poor response; whole night of prayer and turnaround; Edman's personality and influence
37:00 Jim Elliot's presidency of Foreign Mission Fellowship; his impact and concern for the students
38:15 International Club and its activities, membership
39:00 World War II on campus and effects
39:30 Special chapel services for death of former students during the war; special prayer breaks
40:30 Summer activities
41:00 Plans for Gordon Seminary; training for Olympics and back trouble which prevented future competition
42:15 Wheaton's courses as preparation for Gordon Seminary; professors and inerrancy
43:45 Dr. Hudson Armerding at Gordon before coming to Wheaton College
44:00 Application for India; training further at Kennedy School of Missions; excellence of courses, description; courses on Islam
45:45 Meeting his future wife, Jean, during summer pastorate in Maine; commuting to Providence where she was studying at the Bible Institute; marriage on graduation from Seminary
46:45 End of side 1

T1 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
01:30 No further courses after Kennedy except on the field; excellence of background for actual mission work
02:45 Connections with Baptist church and mission; parents originally under Northern Baptist Convention; father's job with Conservative Baptists in 1943
03:30 Numbers of missionaries in 1951; major emphases of indigenous, self-supporting churches; requirements of Seminary degree for missionaries, expertise and one year of Bible study for support workers
04:30 Refusal of visa for India; deflection from Tibet because of Communist takeover; assignment to West Pakistan
05:00 Freedom to enter Pakistan; fifteen years of work, 1954-1969; trip on troop transport with all Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society missionaries; captain's fear of being converted
06:30 Embarkation at Karachi; poor living conditions in Larkana
08:00 Governmental stability, restrictions
09:00 Reaction to U.S. citizens; shift from friendship to enmity during wars with India; good attitude of Pakistanis toward Canada
10:00 Relations with the Soviet Union; perils of geographical proximity
10:45 Refugees from Afghanistan and problems created
11:30 Evangelization activities; translation, converting a language to writing
11:45 Relationships with other mission groups; cooperation in schools for children of missionaries, Bible schools, literature
12:15 Major problems for family to settle into Pakistani culture
13:15 Living conditions; language training
13:45 Length of training; Pakistani languages
14:45 Methods of evangelizing Muslims
15:30 Sindhi people; Hindu tribes and status
15:45 Living conditions of Sindhi, tribal people
16:15 Land ownership; rental percentages due landlords
16:30 Agricultural products of West Pakistan
17:00 Openness of students to the gospel; desire to practice English
17:15 History of Sindhi people; literacy
18:00 Misconceptions of Christianity; Muslim reaction to teachings about Jesus
18:30 Claims of burial places of Jesus and Mary by one group; Ascension seen as heresy
19:30 Total permeation of Islamic religion in daily life
19:45 Use of literature, correspondence courses, attendance at fairs to evangelize Muslims; explanation of Jesus within Muslim concepts
21:00 Treatment of Christian converts from Islam; slow rate of conversion because of reactions from Muslim community
22:30 Estimate of numbers of conversions and fifty percent reversions to Islamic beliefs; refusal of nominal Christians to accept Muslim converts because of caste or suspicion of motives
23:45 Low caste status of most Indian Christians; former mass acceptance without understanding and second-third generation nominal commitment
24:15 Estimate of only four hundred to five hundred thousand Christians in Pakistan; Bukers' encouragement from Marawari tribal conversions
25:00 Dearth of good Christian leadership
25:15 Types of worship services
26:00 Encouragement of use of Eastern forms of music in worship; Sindhi hymnbook
26:45 Training in small Bible school formed by cooperation with other missions; effectiveness of one-to-one training
27:00 Events of typical day
28:30 Boarding school for the Buker children; difficulties of females in Islamic society; summer vacations with the family together
29:30 Need to accept tribal living conditions to be successful in evangelization
28:30 Scarcity of contacts with other westerners
31:00 Highlights of their mission years, learning Sindhi, finding usable housing, watching numbers of missionary families grow, living in tropical weather
32:30 Class work on counseling; study of Islamic beliefs
32:45 End of tape

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

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Introduction
00:15 Work at Wheaton College in the heating plant; delivering coal, chipping off boiler interior during summer
02:00 Return to Larkana for second term; neighbor, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who became President; later trial by successors; desire of Sindhis to secede
03:30 Continuation of same types of work at Larkana
04:30 Translation and revising work on Sindhi Bible; Old Testament translation by Sindhi
05:15 Changes possible after foundations laid; methods of evangelizing and development of literature
05:45 Shifts in government reaction to Americans because of wars; emphasis of missionaries on other-worldly kingdom and avoidance of politics
06:45 Changes of approach to Muslims with experience from public to more personal
07:15 Friendliness of Muslims until conversions made; threats and retaliation afterward
07:45 Need to protect family
08:00 Work with nominal Christians; number of members of the local Christian church and its wider community
08:45 Expansion from two missionary families to thirty; beginning of medical work, correspondence courses, schools for missionary children
09:30 Distribution of mission families; other missions and cooperation with schools, literature
10:30 Accomplishing greater language proficiency, understanding the culture, strengthening existing churches
11:00 Return in 1965 on furlough; move to Denver, study and teaching at Denver Seminary
12:15 Return to Larkana; origins of the Marwari tribe in India
13:30 Work with Bhils tribe; converting Bhils' unwritten language
14:00 Producing a written language by using Sindhi script and addition of letters; translation of John, Mark; need to teach literacy
15:15 Training new Christians in short-term itinerant Bible schools; teaching reading; Sindhi taught in government schools
16:15 Comparison of English and Sindhi
17:00 Percentages of languages learned by missionary families; Urdu
17:30 Illiteracy
17:45 Economy; status of Sindhi; debts from one hundred percent interest; lack of justice in court system
19:00 Socially strong Sindhi units as protection from Muslim discrimination
20:00 Friendliness of Sindhi once suspicion is allayed; use of at least one Christian native convert in evangelizing, as interpreter and assistant to avoid cultural errors; conversion of one Hindu and his zeal; living with the people by their standards of physical life
21:30 Housing and food; water and contamination of most sources
23:15 Muslim oppression; western presence in courtroom as deterrent to lack of justice
24:30 Loosely-knit hierarchical structure of villages; pattern of contacting leaders first before evangelizing
25:30 Three-day meeting of leaders; teaching, question and answers; conversions; invitations to villages as essential for acceptance; means used in village visitations; return visits for baptisms, setting up of units for fellowship and growth
28:30 Baptisms; encouragement and development of new converts to take over all church functions
29:30 Area of responsibility in Pakistan; need for much travel
30:30 Buker's travel periods away from Larkana
31:15 Difficulties of establishing permanent churches among semi-nomadic peoples
32:00 Numbers of baptized Christians in their ministry; need for teaching content and responsibility
32:45 Comparison of worship services; differences because of illiteracy; use of some literate person, testimonies, prayers; practice of use of question with the scripture verse to be answered by congregation
36:00 Continuous training of self-sufficient leadership
37:30 Taking the family on some evangelizing trips; Jean's ministry to women because of taboo on male contacts with women; absences and activities while at home
38:45 Using all native facilities in village visitations
39:15 Visit of first seven Marwaris converted by tracts; invitation to go to the tribe and regular conversions following this opening; encouragement after little success with Muslims
41:00 Continuing success with Marwaris; sense of Satanic opposition; power of the Holy Spirit even with little input; four years of work with Marwaris
42:00 Medical work; Greek origins of existing medical practices; rampant infection
44:00 Effectiveness of even minimal medical help with pills, simple diagnoses
44:00 Women's hospital set up with all female staff; attraction for wide geographical area
44:45 Receiving supplies from U.S. and Medical Assistance Program (MAP), Wheaton, IL; lack of medical supplies in Pakistan
45:00 End of side 1

T2 - side 2

00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
01:00 Appreciation of medical help even when used as desperation measure
02:30 Class division of medical, education facilities; economic favoritism
03:30 Desire for education; limited opportunities for girls and women
04:00 Schools established by Presbyterians; government nationalization of these and return of some when they could not be handled by the Pakistanis
04:45 One seminary; conservative doctrine and constituency of missionaries in Pakistan; Conservative Baptist cooperation with other missions in establishment of Bible schools
06:00 Agriculture as economic base; number of families who control wealth in Pakistan and India
07:00 Agricultural products; primitive implements, low yield; irrigation system established by British; problems with salination if water table rises; American governmental help
08:30 Lack of investment because of government corruption
09:30 Lack of industrial development because of poor organization, workmanship; limits of exports to agricultural products
10:15 Karachi's growth after Pakistan formed
10:30 Massive slums formed by job-seekers
10:45 Cordial relationships with other Protestant missions; partitioning of Pakistan to avoid overlap of mission areas
11:45 Relationships with Roman Catholic staffs; Pakistani archbishop who admired and tried to emulate CBFMS methods of work with Muslims; invitation to share these at a tea
13:15 Major problem of pressures in Pakistan on converts
13:30 Buker's return three times since 1969; most recent visit, 1979
14:00 Work as student representative with Denver headquarters for the mission; contacts with students during 1960s; value of his childhood and student years in drug culture of Burma, familiarity with eastern religions, occult; work with Navigators, Campus Crusade, Campus Ambassadors and introduction as guru of largest eastern religion; answering questions and conversions
16:30 Sample questions
17:30 Move to Wheaton, 1972, to become Personnel Secretary of CBFMS; duties
18:15 Growth goals for CBFMS for expanding numbers of missionaries on the fields
19:15 Government relationships with Pakistan in the future; problem of Afghan refugees, aid, arms; need for missionaries to distance themselves from political involvement
20:30 Difficulties of getting visas unless for medical work; acceptance of Canadian missionaries and mission's encouragement of these in Pakistan
21:00 Great opportunities for gospel among the Marwaris
21:15 Hopes for nominal Pakistani Christians; aggressiveness of Islamic proselytizing and funding from Saudi Arabian oil profits; insistence on Islamic law as condition to aid; limitation on American missionaries, refusal to give Christians jobs, nationalization of schools
22:30 Great opportunities for changes from true Christianization; corruption linked to religious beliefs, practices; encouragement of lying, deterrent of corruption and population increases
23:30 Encouraging response of Marwari tribes
23:45 Important principles for the future missionary: God is sovereign, be a faithful sower of His seed in all soils and trust Him to give the increase; learn to die to self and personal attachments
25:45 Missionary call as draft to fight God's war
26:30 Necessity to accept national Christians as brothers and co-workers; identification of hidden peoples to reach; his role as "international harvester" in largest business in the world
27:45 Personal five-year goals
29:00 End of tape


These interviews were received at the Center in November 1983.

Accession 83-125, 83-128

March 12, 1986
Frances L. Brocker
J. Nasgowitz

Accession: 83-125, 83-128
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4, about 80 minutes. One side only. Interview of Raymond Buker, Jr., by Joel Woodruff, in which he discusses his childhood in Burma, schooling, and missionary work in Pakistan with the Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4, about 74 minutes. One side only. Interview of Raymond Buker, Jr., by Joel Woodruff, in which he discusses the Bukers' second term and work with the Marwari tribal peoples and Muslims until 1969; student and personnel work with CBFMS in U.S. to 1983.

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