Billy Graham Center

Interview with Marilyn Joy Suttie - Collection 286

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Marilyn Joy Suttie

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Interview with Suttie about her work as a missionary in Cameroon. Includes discussion about her childhood in China, education at Wheaton College, and short-term missionary work, mainly teaching missionary children, in Cameroon. Also includes information on the Cameroon church, polygamy, Muslims in Cameroon, and medical care.

Collection 286 [March 28, 2000]
Suttie, Marilyn Joy; 1943-
Interview; 1984

2 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Marilyn Joy Suttie was born in 1943 to Melvin David (see CN 293) and Mary Elizabeth Cromer Suttie, missionaries serving at the time in Fowyang, Anhui, China, under J. Herbert Kane (see CN 182). Marilyn had one older sister, Lois Jean, and one younger brother, David. In 1944 the Sutties were transferred to Ningchang in Shaanxi Province and then, after a furlough, to Nanyo in Henan Province. The Communists took over the area and they were forced to leave China in 1950.

After spending some time in Florida with her grandparents, her father became pastor of a church in Rock Island, IL, and the family lived there for a number of years before moving on to Aurora, IL. After high school, Suttie attended Wheaton College and received a B.A. in 1965 in Education. After college, she applied for short-term missionary work, was accepted and sent to Cameroon under the United Presbyterian Ecumenical Mission. While in Africa, she taught in a school for missionary children, occasionally taught English to African children, and taught American folk songs at the Bulu church she attended.

Suttie returned to the United States and at the time of this interview was living in Westmont, IL.

Scope and Content

Marilyn Suttie was interviewed by John Waldrop at 7:35 p.m. on November 13, 1984, at Suttie's home. The approximate dates of the events covered by the interview were 1945-1968. 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.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:30 Introduction
01:15 Family life in China; missionary work of parents under China Inland Mission (CIM); description of home; Christmas in China
04:30 Schooling delayed due to Communist takeover; difficulty learning to tell time; hikes in the mountains
07:00 Communist takeover; effect on the church; leaving China; Communist search of family luggage; difficulties experienced in China under Japanese when parents began work
10:00 Journey back to the United States; costume contest on the ship; staying with father's parents in Florida and entry into school there
12:30 Move to Rock Island, IL, where father was pastor of a church
13:45 Memorable school-years moments; learning to ride full-sized bike and mother replacing of teeth knocked out as result of fall; leaving Rock Island for Aurora, IL
17:15 Reasons for going to Wheaton College; her evaluation of Wheaton College; memories of the College and the good training received and friends made; series of chapel meetings with J. Edwin Orr
21:45 Decision to enter missionary work
23:00 Effect of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Vietnamese conflict, and the Cuban missile crisis on the College
25:00 Preparation for missionary work through parents as missionaries and childhood contact with missionaries; attending Urbana; friend's trip to Panama with Student Missions Forum [?]; Sunday school work in Chicago.
28:30 Additional preparation that would have been useful in mission work, especially more practical teaching; learning of a position available in Cameroon; longing to work overseas and make a useful contribution; going out under the United Presbyterian Ecumenical Mission
32:00 Preparations for leaving for Cameroon; first impressions of Africa, Cameroon; heat and humidity, trying to understand French; taxi drivers, people walking, costumes
36:45 Most difficult cultural adjustments: language barrier; shopping; advantages of having been on a mission field in China; humidity and mosquitoes; eating alone; being away from home
41:30 History of missions work in Cameroon; good reception of missionaries in Cameroon; transfer of many responsibilities to the indigenous church by the missionaries; lack of medical training in Cameroon; Africans go overseas for medical training
45:30 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Overlap from side 1, including section with an echo
02:15 Involvement of Cameroon nationals in missionary work; reduction of missionary staff in Cameroon over the years; boarding school closed
03:45 Objections to the Gospel; bride price; polygamy; children equalled wealth; hard life of African wife; Muslim life in many ways more adaptable to traditional life; importance of family; status related to tribe and clan
07:15 Percentages of religions in Cameroon (20% Muslim, 30% Christian, both Protestant and Catholic, and 50% animist); responses of people to the Gospel; negative view of role of whites among some; medical work and education as tools for communicating the Gospel; visits to bush stations
11:00 Lifestyle disparities in African culture; description of her house in Cameroon; wealth of missionaries in relation to the Africans; acceptance by the Africans of any disparities; missionaries had simple lifestyles.
14:30 Effect of mission board in U.S. on missionary work in Cameroon: helped with visas, advice, visits; Suttie's attendance at Bulu church; teaching American folk songs
17:00 End of side 2

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
01:30 Need for more missionaries in Cameroon, especially to give medical training, training pastors and laypeople
02:30 Government attitude towards Christianity; government relations with organized religions was open; government red tape involved in setting up
05:00 Suttie's view on Cameroon's president at the time; presidential elections; certain lack of political freedom of speech; censoring; Christian radio not allowed; Christian literature produced by mission
07:45 Diseases of Cameroon; availability of hospitals; leprosariums; parasites in the water system
09:15 Attitude of the natives toward medical care; popularity of mission's hospital; witch doctors
10:00 Teaching facilities in Cameroon; availability of educational supplies; use of French system of education, i.e. rote memory; literacy rate; system of teaching language to Cameroonian children
14:00 Suttie's contact with Cameroon since leaving; time in Cameroon a maturing process; enjoyment of being in Cameroon; teaching missionary kids; enjoyment at relating to a different culture
18:30 Attitude of American missionaries in Cameroon; description of young African, a Christian man being trained in medicine, had only daughters so took more than one wife to have sons; effect of his polygamy on his family; joyful attitude of Cameroonian Christians and their exuberant singing; church's help for the status of women
23:00 Enjoyment of being in Cameroon; sister's served in Seoul, Korea
24:45 End of tape


The tapes in this collection were received by the Center in November 1984 from Wheaton College student John Waldrop and Marilyn Suttie.

Accession 84-131
May 26, 1993
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
B. Phillips

Accession 84-131
Type of Materials: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 65 minutes. One side only. Interview with Marilyn Joy Suttie by John Waldrop. Discussion of family life in China as a child, attendance at Wheaton College, service in Cameroon teaching missionary children; November 13, 1984.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 25 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview of Marilyn Joy Suttie by John Waldrop. Discussion of missionary life in Cameroon; November 13, 1984.

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