Billy Graham Center

Interview with Melvin David Suttie - Collection 293

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Melvin David Suttie

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

List Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Transcript T1

Transcript T2

Transcript T3

Brief Description.

Interview with Suttie about his childhood, Christian growth, education at Wheaton College and Biblical Seminary in New York and Omaha Presbyterian Seminary, missionary work with China Inland Mission (1940-1950), the Sino-Japanese Conflict, his co-workers in CIM, work among university students, persecution, evangelistic work among the Chinese population and Nationalist troops, his wife Mary's work among women, their children, church and state relations in China, the Sutties' return to the United States and his pastoral work, and the meaning of his own and CIM's experience in China. Events described cover the time period 1928 to 1977.

Collection 293 [February 1, 2017]
Suttie, Melvin David; 1912-2006
Interviews; 1985


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Melvin David Suttie was born on June 4, 1912 in Austin, Illinois to David and Bertha Suttie; he had five siblings. He grew up in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, and attended Glenbard High School. When he was sixteen he was converted. Suttie attended Wheaton College (1931-1935), majoring in history, and after graduating, continued his education, first at the nondenominational Biblical Seminary in New York City (1936-1938) and then at Omaha Presbyterian Seminary (1938-1939). In 1938 he married Mary Elizabeth Cromer, whom he had known at Wheaton and met again at Biblical Seminary. He was ordained in an Indiana presbytery where his father-in-law was pastoring.

The Sutties joined China Inland Mission in 1939. They completed their language training in Tsingtao, Shandong Province in 1940. After several short-lived assignments due to war conditions and the birth of their first child, they worked in Fowyang, Anhui Province from 1941 to 1944, supervised by J. Herbert Kane. In 1944, they were trans-ferred to Ningchang, Shaanxi Province, where they worked until mid-1946, when they had their furlough. Upon returning to China in the fall of 1947, they began their second term in Nanyo in Henan Province, working among students. After the Communist take-over in 1949, they were unable to carry out their work among students, and considered themselves to be a risk to those Chinese the served and with which they associated. They left China in November 1950; (their departure preceded the general China Inland Mission withdrawal by a month). Suttie and his wife formally resigned from the mission in 1952.

Upon resettling in the US, Suttie worked as a pastor in several Presbyterian churches in Illinois (1952-1974) and Arkansas (1974-1977).

The Sutties had four children, Lois Jean (b. 1941), Marilyn Joy (b. 1943), David (b. 1950), and a baby who died in 1946. Mary Elizabeth Suttie died in 1983. Melvin died November 9, 2006.

Scope and Content

Melvin Suttie was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on January 18 and 21, 1985, at the Billy Graham Center Archives office. The time period covered by the interviews is 1928-1977. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to a cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Introduction to interview on January 18, 1985; Overview of childhood, family and church life, shift of vocational interest to missions, conversion, family's Wheaton College connections; CIM representative Isaac Page; Glen Ellyn Bible Church's missions emphasis and impact, his conversion, other influences on his interest in missions; Wheaton College: reputation in city, academics, Drs. Darian Straw and Elsie Dow, campus spiritual life, impact of commuting on his social life, literary society, Dr. Oliver Buswell, courses which prepared him for missions; Mary Cromer, marriage, her nursing training, theological training at Biblical Seminary and Omaha Seminary, transition to Presbyterianism; China Inland Mission's orientation for new missionaries, evaluating language potential, preparation for departure, travel to China, appreciation of CIM's fund raising policy; CIM companions to China, adjustments to other nationalities, language school in Tsingtao, short-lived assignment to Hwailu, Dr. Lawrence & Esther Hess; Impact of war: constant moving, river trip across war lines

Otto and Katharine Schoerner, their characters and personalities, CIM's handling of denominational differences, Pentecostalism; Assignment in Fowyang with Herbert Kane, evacuating Anhwei Province on embassy advice to avoid advancing Japanese troops, reassignment; J. Herbert and Winnifred Kane; Work at Ningchang: preaching in rural area market centers, contact with American soldiers and other missionaries on transport line, first furlough

ntroduction to interview\; Return to China in 1947 and assignment to Nanyoh (Nationalist and religious center) to work among students and local church, worship service, sermons; Communist control, relationship with and treatment of missionaries, attempt to leave China, CIM's work among university students, comparison of northern and southern Chinese; Evangelistic work: Buddhism and persecution as obstacles, murder of Christian professor, witness to Nationalist troops; Departure from Nanyoh and China; Children of missionaries: education and boarding, travels, coping with tension of China's civil war; Addressing conflict in CIM: issues and policy; Coping with turmoil in China, comparison with wife's adaptability; Mary Elizabeth: her character and missionary work with women; Return to the United States; pastoral work, activities of children, resignation from China Inland Mission, adjustment to life in the United States and absence of evangelical spirit, retirement ;Chinese views of denominations, impact of Fundamentalism in China; Encouraging mission awareness and support in the Presbyterian church, obstacles and lack of interest among young people; Ian and Helen Anderson and other Wheaton CIMers in their area of China; Meaning of expulsion from China, need for national administration of the church, and current trends in sending missionaries


The materials in this collection were received by the Billy Graham Center from Melvin Suttie in January 1985.

Accession : 85-6, 85-10
July 23, 1992
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

Accession : 85-6, 85-10
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 60 minutes. One side only. Oral history interview with Melvin Suttie by Paul A. Ericksen. Subjects covered include his childhood, Christian commitment and growth, education at Wheaton College and seminary training, marriage, China Inland Mission and its financial policies, initial work in China, and the impact of the Sino-Japanese conflict on their work. Recorded on January 18, 1985.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 24 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Melvin Suttie by Paul A. Ericksen. Subjects covered include missionary work in rural China, Sino-Japanese conflict, and their fellow workers. Recorded on January 18, 1985.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 60 minutes. One side only. Oral history interview with Melvin Suttie by Paul A. Ericksen. Subjects covered include work in China among university students, China's civil war and the impact of the Communist takeover, evangelistic work among the people and Nationalist troops, the Suttie children, coping with transition, Mary Elizabeth Suttie, their return to the U.S for pastoral work, and reflections on the meaning of their experience in and expulsion from China. Recorded on January 21, 1985.

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