Billy Graham Center

Interview with Nancy Wood Folkerts - Collection 283

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Nancy Wood Folkerts

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Two oral history interviews with Nancy Folkerts. Topics discussed include her childhood as a preacher's kid; study at Wheaton College; her marriage; work as a missionary in Cameroon, especially Bible study and literacy programs for women and 3H clubs for girls; the political and social situation in Cameroon; the work of her husband, Fred, at the Baptist Teacher Training College and as Field Secretary; relations between the North American Baptist Mission and Presbyterians and Catholics.

Collection 283 [October 9, 2000]
Folkerts, Nancy Wood; 1932-
Interviews; 1984

3 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Nancy Wood was born to Robert and Virginia Wood on November 2, 1932, in Pekin, IL. Robert Wood was a Presbyterian minister in Pekin, in Humboldt, TN, and then in Knoxville, TN. Nancy graduated from high school in Knoxville and then attended Wheaton College, where she majored in Christian Education and received her degree in 1954. In 1955, Nancy married Fred Folkerts, who was also a 1954 graduate from Wheaton. Nancy taught school in Chicago while Fred worked for his M.A. at Wheaton and then his B.D. at Northern Baptist Seminary. In 1958, the Folkerts were appointed as missionaries to the British Cameroon by the North American Baptists. After a year of education classes in London, and after the birth of their first child, they headed for the Cameroon and a three-year term.

The Folkerts served in Cameroon from 1959 to 1972. Fred worked as principal of the Baptist Teacher Training College and as North American Baptist field secretary. Most of their term was spent living in Bamenda. Nancy taught her children at home and engaged in general missionary work, primarily with women and girls.

When the Folkerts first arrived in the British-controlled Cameroon, the political situation unstable. In 1960, after four years of insurrection against the French, the French Cameroon received its independence. In 1961 British Cameroon, where the Folkerts were assigned, voted on whether they wanted to join what had been the French Cameroon, now the Republic of Cameroon, or Nigeria, which had also been a British colony. The southern section of the country, in which the Folkerts resided, voted to join the Republic of Cameroon, which then changed its name to the Federal Republic of Cameroon, and the northern section voted to join Nigeria.

In 1972, at the end of their third term, the Folkerts resigned from the mission field due to the illness of Nancy's parents and the desire to be with their children as they entered high school. In 1984, Fred was the Secretary for Overseas Missions for the North American Baptist Conference and Nancy was teaching at Bryan Junion High School, Elmhurst, IL. The Folkerts had four children: Stephen Carl, Mark Robert, Philip, and David Reynolds.

Scope and Content

Nancy Wood Folkerts was interviewed by Lisa M. Moscati on November 7 and 14, 1984 at the Billy Graham Center of Wheaton College. The time period of the events covered by the interviews was 1954 to 1972. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Introduction to interview on November 7, 1984
01:00 Family, early life, life as a "preacher's kid," conversion
06:00 Attendance at Wheaton College; influential people: President V. Raymond Edman, Professors Merrill C. Tenney, Paul M. Bechtel, Lois and Mary Lebar; college life
11:25 Marriage; application to North American Baptist Convention for mission field; education training year in London; leaving for the British Cameroon; first impressions; mission goals
23:30 Adjusting to conditions in Africa; culture shock; missionary work in Africa; rearing children on the mission field; health problems; move to Bamenda; cultural differences difficult to adjust to
35:00 First impressions of other missionaries and nationals; attitude toward and treatment of westerners
38:00 Mission methods include education, medicine, and church planting
42:30 Affect of American church trends on the Cameroon church; description of typical church services in a bush church and an urban church
43:45 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of side 2
00:15 Overlap from side 1
09:30 Missionary work, accidental death, and burial of Rev. Gary Schroeder; his wife dyed wedding dress black
12:00 New Life campaign throughout area; description of furlough; reception of the Gospels by the Africans; 3H program for girls (a program similar to Pioneer Girls here in the United States); literacy program for women (using the Laubach Method, named for Frank C. Laubach, 1884-1970)
17:00 Percentage of true believers in Cameroon; Christians' rejection of previous beliefs; political situation's influence on Christianity
21:45 Relationships with other religious groups in the area: Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses
22:30 End of side 2

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of Tape 2
00:15 Introduction to interview on November 14, 1984
01:45 National's view of different denominations; conflicts between denominational groups; government's feelings toward missions; government's religious policy (church and state)
06:30 Freedom to criticize government; freedom of religion, freedom of the press
07:00 Cultural groups present in the area; how they understand and get along with each other; importance of family, kinship, clan; north-south division in country
14:15 People's self-identity; relationship between tribal groups; stability of country; attitudes toward British and French; the plebiscite; president's power; view of westerners
29:35 Problems and benefits of independence; feelings toward Soviet Union; relationships with surrounding countries
36:00 Medical program goals and emphases; malnutrition the leading cause of death; protein deficiency; malaria; native cures; dengue (pronounced deng'ge) fever
45:00 End of side 1

Tape T2 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of side 2
00:15 Overlap from side 1
03:15 Parasites, tarantula spiders, cockroaches
04:45 Population reached by education programs; affect of education on different classes or groups; levels of education
07:45 Languages used in communication: Pidgin English, French; industries, exports, economy; currency; transportation systems; climate
15:45 Circumstances relating to departure; reasons for not returning
19:15 End of side 2

Tape T3 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of side 3
00:15 Introduction to "Summary" recorded on November 14, 1984
00:30 Most important accomplishments on the mission field were work with women in Bible study and literacy program and work with girls in 3H programs
01:00 Wish for future: resolution of conflict between national pastors who broke away and formed their own convention and the Baptist Convention and the restoration of unity; deepening of spiritual life of average Christian
03:15 Expectations for the national Christians and nation as a whole: release from animistic beliefs and a Christian in every home
04:45 Personal mission goals never reached; medical field provided most surprising accomplishments--a native doctor and staff totally operate medical facility
05:30 Getting along with people most important lesson learned
07:45 Supervising the guest house; difficulty of sending children away for school
12:15 Return home; Fred presently working in Missions Department of the North American Baptist Conference; Nancy currently teaching special education in Bryan Junior High in Elmhurst, IL


The tapes in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Nancy Folkerts and Lisa Moscati in November 1984.

Accession 84-128, 84-156
October 27, 1992
J. H. Nasgowitz
E. Diaz

Accession 84-128, 84-156
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 60 minutes. One side only. Interview with Nancy Wood Folkerts by Lisa Moscati on November 7, 1984. Discussion of family, attendance at Wheaton College, marriage, training in London, and missionary work in British Cameroon (now Republic of Cameroon).

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes. One side only. Interview with Nancy Wood Folkerts by Lisa Moscati on November 14, 1984. Discussion of church and state in Cameroon, cultural groups living in the area, Cameroon independence, political situation, types of outreach, and medical problems.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, fifteen minutes. One side only. Continuation of the interview with Nancy Wood Folkerts by Lisa Moscati on November 14, 1984. Summary questions about accomplishments, long-range wishes for Cameroon, operation of the mission guest house, difficulty of sending children away to school, and return from mission field to the United States.

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Last Revised: 09/09/02
Expiration: indefinite