Billy Graham Center

Interviews with Stanley Okoro - Collection 296

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Stanley Okoro

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

One oral history interview with Okoro in which he discusses his childhood, participation as a soldier in the 1967-1970 Nigerian civil war, conversion to Christianity, theological training, youth ministry in Nigeria and Liberia, Christian cults in Nigeria, and the strenths and weaknesses of the church in that country.

Collection 296 [April 4, 2000]
Okoro, Stanley; 1951-
Interviews; 1985

1 Reel Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Stanley Okoro was born April 15, 1951 in the village of Okwe in the Ikwuano Local Government Area, the state of Imo, Nigeria. His parents came from different religious traditions, since his father was a non-Christian polygamist and his mother was a preacher in the Methodist church. She died when Okoro was two, as did his younger brother, and his father (who was a contractor, hunter and trader) died when the boy was eleven. After his parents deaths he was raised by various families members. He spent a year in the city of Lagos with an uncle when he was about twelve. Okoro graduated from primary school in the nearby village of Ndoro in 1965 and worked for family members in Okwe. He joined the army in 1968 and served through most of the Nigerian civil war. When his term was up in 1970, he returned to his village for a year and then went to Lagos and worked at construction jobs. He became a Christian on February 28, 1971 while attending an open air worship service sponsored by the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM). Shortly after that he felt the call to enter Christian work and he enrolled in the Bible and Missionary Training Center in Lagos. After one year the school closed and he went to work to work in a Christian bookstore run by SIM. The school opened again in 1973 and Okoro returned. He was one of the institutions first graduates in 1975.

He went to Liberia in 1976 where he worked with Youth for Christ and radio station ELWA. He trained counselors for high school students, wrote radio programs, taught Bible in the public schools, administered a Bible correspondence course and started a youth center. In 1977, after a few years of efforts to arrange for the funds, he was able to go to the United States to attend Washington Bible College in Lanham, Maryland. He graduated with a B.A. in Christian Education in 1979. He then attended Trinity Divinity School in Illinois for one semester but had to leave because of financial constraints. He returned to Nigeria in 1980 and, as with all college graduates, he had to put in one year of public service, which he spent teaching at a teachers training college. In November 1981 he became the executive director of YFC in Nigeria (the first full-time employee of YFC in that country), a position he held until 1984, when he resigned to go to the United States to attend Wheaton College Graduate School in Illinois. He traveled to the United States with his wife Iyabo. After graduation from Wheaton in 1986, Okoro went on to the graduate school of Northern Illinois University, from which he received his doctoral degree in education in 1991. Iyabo shortly thereafter received her doctorate in educational administration. The family (which included two sons, Stanley and Stephen) returned to Nigeria in 1992. They started a new organization called Christian Heritage Ministries, which was to be a holistic ministry serving Christian families through retreats, workshops and similar activities.

Scope and Content

Stanley Okoro was interviewed by Robert Shuster on February 25, 1985 in the offices of the Billy Graham Center Archives. The time period covered by the interviews is from 1951 to 1985. 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.

T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:00 Start of tape
00:20 Introduction
00:45 Religious background of parents; early death of mother, then father, younger
brother; learning about his mother's personality from others; her generosity, helpfulness and intelligence; women preachers in the Methodist church; her work as a Methodist preacher; preaching circuits in Nigeria.
07:15 Living with an uncle in Lagos after his father's death; few Christians in the
family; spending time with his grandmother; impressions of Lagos; local cultures overwhelmed by the metropolitan culture; educational opportunities in the free city schools
13:00 Other opportunities in the city; parks and recreational facilities in the city; few
ambitions as a youth; hindrances to further education; attitude toward Christianity; no communication in church of the need for personal faith; church activities for young people
19:00 Resentful toward life because of loss of parents; In 1964 began to live on his
own briefly in Lagos and then returned to his family until he finished primary school; movement of people caused by the outbreak of civil war; joined the army in 1968 until 1970; looking for work; contacts with Christians through a friend from school
24:30 Attending a Sudan Interior Mission open air evangelistic service; responding to the Gospel; the blind preacher; invitation to experiment with Jesus Christ
29:15 Good influence of his brother on him when he was in the army; corrupt
influence of a wartime army; joined the army because of his lack of prospects and hopelessness; drifting after leaving the army; receptiveness to Christian message
34:15 Counseling after the meeting about the Christian life; memories of his first days
as a Christian; change in his view of life; response of his family; refusal to be initiated into the native society; incredulous reaction of others to the change in his life
40:00 Call to enter the ministry and go to Bible school; John and Jane Didrickson;
enrollment in the first class of the Bible school; help from the Evangelical Churches of West Africa; work of the Didricksons with Lagosian street youth; impressive things about the Didricksons
45:00 Beneficial factors in Bible school education, interpreting the Bible, contacts with
45:30 End of side 1

Tape 1 - side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:05 Overlap from first side of tape
01:00 Learning how to grow in his Christian life from his fellow students; emphasis on
prayer; school fees provided in answer to prayers; example and influence of other students
05:30 Move to Liberia in 1976 after graduation to work with Youth for Christ and
radio station ELWA for one year; youth ministries he participated in; teaching Bible in high schools; writing for radio programs; training counselors for YFC, handling correspondence courses, starting a youth center
10:00 Reasons for the need for a youth center; aimlessness of young people in
Monrovia; reason for going to United States to attend Washington Bible College; weaknesses of theological schools in Nigeria
15:45 Travel to the United States; first impressions of the country; previous contacts
with Americans; ease of adjustment to American culture; shallowness of relations between Christians as compared with churches in Nigeria; involvement in the organization of the Nigerian Youth for Christ; joining YFC as the first full time staff member in 1980
22:20 National service required of all college graduates; teaching in a teacher's training
college; conflict over method of teaching the Bible at the college
26:30 Organization of YFC in Nigeria; reason why YFC is mostly confined to cities;
work with college students and young adults as well as high school students; strengths and weaknesses of the Church in Nigeria; division of the church into Roman Catholic, mainstream protestants, Evangelicals, and cult groups; enthusiasm of evangelicals; lack of a Biblical background in many Christians; antagonism between Pentecostals and non-Pentecostals; the falseness of the Holiness movement
34:15 Relationship between Christians and Muslims; persecution of Christians by
Muslims in the northern part of the country; neutral attitude of the government toward Evangelicals; the heretical doctrines of the Cherubim and Seraphim church
39:05 End of side 2 of tape T1


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in February 1985 from Stanley Okoro.

Acc.: 85-25
May 9, 1992
Robert Shuster

Accession : 85-25
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 84 minutes, one side only. Interview of Stanley Okoro by Robert Shuster. Discussion of family life; education; army service; conversion; condition of the church in Nigeria; and youth ministry activities in Nigeria and Liberia. Recorded on February 25, 1982.

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Last Revised: 9/09/02
Expiration: indefinite