Billy Graham Center

Interview with David Livingstone Farah - Collection 302

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of David Livingstone Farah

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Two interviews with Farah, in which he discusses his upbringing, education at Wheaton College, work as an administrator with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Peru and Bolivia, and relationships with other religious bodies, national groups and governments. Interviews were recorded on 6/5/85 and 6/7/85.

Collection 302 [April 4, 2000]
Farah, David Livingstone; 1930-
Interviews; 1983

Audio Tapes (3 Reels)

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


David Livingstone Farah was born May 27, 1930 in Quincy, Massachusetts. He grew up there and in Rockland, Massachusetts. His father, Charles Farah, was born in Damascus, Syria, and lived in Egypt before emmigrating to the United States, where he met and married Mildred Endlich, of Ohio. Seven children were born to the family, including David.

He attended Wheaton College, beginning in 1947, and graduated in 1952, taking off a year in 1948 to work in his father's paint factory. Although he began his college career hoping for a career in chemistry, he switched to a major in education when he felt called to enter the mission field.

Following graduation from Wheaton, he joined Wycliffe Translators, and went to Peru for language study. There he met his future wife, Gloria Corsello, who was also with Wycliffe. They were married in 1955 in Lima, Peru, after Gloria had finished jungle camp training in Mexico.

They were assigned by Wycliffe to work in in Bolivia, where they served with Bolivian Indian tribes for a time. Health problems necessitated the Farahs' return to the U. S. for 1957 and 1958. Just before they left Bolivia, their first son, Dennis was born in 1956, and while they were in the U. S., Douglas was born in 1957. Dennis was killed in a fireworks accident in Bolivia in 1982.

In 1956, Farah was appointed to administrative work for Wycliffe, although they were still based in Bolivia's lowland jungle area. In 1964, they were assigned to La Paz, Bolivia's capital. There Farah took on public relations work for Wycliffe, particularly coordinating the organization's ties with the Bolivian government. He eventually became Director of Wycliffe's work in Bolivia.

From 1983 to 1988, Farah served as Wycliffe's Director of International Relations, in Dallas, Texas. Beginning in 1989, he served as Latin America Area Director.

Scope and Content

The interviews with David Farah were conducted by Robert Shuster on June 5 and 7, 1985, at the Graham Center Archives offices, in Wheaton, Illinois. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is noted in the margin to the left of the topics discussed. The index is keyed to a cassette copy of the interview, not the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:15 Introduction to interview on June 5, 1985.
00:45 His father's life in Syria and Egypt, and emigration to U.S.
02:30 His father's religious background.
03:00 Education--high school, Nyack Missionary Training Institute.
04:00 Albert Benjamin Simpson's death.
04:15 His mother's background, German Lutheran.
05:00 How his parents met in Christian and Missionary Alliance Church in Akron, Ohio; cultural differences in his parents' marriage.
06:45 Father's work in U.S. as a salesman.
08:00 His birth in Massachusetts in 1930; family life. Family singing, Bible reading, devotions, music, Rook.
11:00 Memories of his father and mother.
13:45 Strong Christian heritage of his family and why it has persisted. How being a Protestant minority in their area kept them strong.
16:45 Christian conversion experience at age six.
18:00 How he came to Wheaton College; his father and Dr. Raymond Edman.
19:00 His immaturity and poor self image.
20:00 First impressions of Wheaton--campus, faculty.
23:30 An example of an ethics class he had with Kenneth Kantzer. Professor Clarence Simpson's English class.
26:45 Where he lived at Wheaton.
27:15 Took off a year from school to work in a paint factory.
28:15 Affects of World War II on Wheaton--fervor for missions.
29:15 Joe Grimes started Sunday school classes in Chicago's south side.
31:15 Lethargy on campus; his idealism.
32:30 Foreign Missionary Fellowship meetings; Inter-Varsity; Missionary Emphasis Week.
33:30 His call to be a missionary; example of Tibet.
36:30 Wycliffe; why he was attracted to Bible translation.
38:00 Chapel at Wheaton; speakers; Dr. Edman as speaker.
41:30 Revival of '50; his conviction.
42:30 End of side 1.

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Overlap from side 1.
04:15 Continuation on 1950 revival: testimonies, confession, organization. The effect of the revival on the campus; drew college community together.
08:15 The question of the connection between prayers for the Lord to deal with spiritual lethargy on campus and revival.
08:45 Major issues on campus then--TV, neo-orthodoxy, liberalism.
10:00 The "pledge."
10:45 Social life at Wheaton--Washington Banquet, church, concerts, sports, walks; the difference between now and then.
12:30 Academic life at Wheaton.
13:15 Benefits of Wheaton--preventing harm to an impressionable person.
14:30 Disadvantages of Wheaton; non-Christian world as "real world"; ability to deal with it.
17:00 Chapel speaker on communism--new thought pattern.
19:15 The competition of Christianity and communism.
20:15 The Cold War and the Korean War.
21:30 Christians in the military--patriotism, naivete.
23:45 Skid row ministry in downtown Chicago. Evangelism tactics; lack of follow-up. The Sunday School; visitation. Reactions to the Sunday School; frustration.
29:15 New England Club at Wheaton College; cross country team and the coach, Gil Dodds.
32:00 Muslim prayer group, part of Foreign Missions Fellowship.
33:00 How he went to Wycliffe Translators immediately after graduating from Wheaton. First contacts with Wycliffe; Joe and Barbara Grimes.
34:30 Wycliffe training school.
35:30 What Wycliffe looks for in employees.
36:45 His work training people in public relations.
37:30 How Wycliffe was different then: concentration on linguistics, smaller.
38:45 Most apparent characteristics of Wycliffe--love for everybody; scholastic level of workers; introverts.
41:45 Bolivia--work begun and completed, "once only."
42:30 End of side 2.

Tape T1 - side 3
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Overlap from #T1a - side 2.
02:15 Jungle training in Mexico.
05:00 A description of Cameron Townsend. Townsend's salesmanship ability.
08:00 How Farah went to Bolivia through the influence of Townsend.
09:00 Motivational ability of Townsend.
10:15 End of interview.

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Beginning of sound for interview on June 7, 1985.
00:15 How he met his wife, Gloria; her background; decision to go to Bolivia.
01:45 His work in Peru for a year.
03:00 The invitation from Bolivia's president, Victor Paz Estenssoro.
03:45 The strategy of where to go in Bolivia; description of Bolivian population groups.
05:45 Setting up the center of operations; advantages and disadvantages.
06:30 First impressions of Peru. The people of Peru. Peruvian society compared to U. S.
09:15 Peru and Bolivia compared--language differences.
10:30 First work with Bolivian Indians. Conclusion drawn about translation work.
13:00 His job in administration; how he was better suited for it.
13:30 What successful translation is like. Learning languages; example of counting.
15:15 His first administrative position. (Drop in sound.)
16:00 Why he liked administrative work; learning about patron-peon relationships and Bolivian laws.
18:30 How he adverted a strike.
19:30 Work patterns in US and Bolivia compared. (Uneven sound.)
20:30 Bolivian politicians and large Indian groups.
22:00 "Political alphabets." Different politicians favoring different alphabet systems for Indian languages.
24:15 Wycliffe policy on community development in politicized Indian groups.
25:45 Criteria for which Indian groups for translators to work with. The attraction of isolated groups vs. the cities.
28:30 The five missionaries martyred in Ecuador by Auca Indians--how it affected him and the Wycliffe work in Bolivia.
29:30 The development of his family; hepatitis of his son, illness of his wife. Health care in Bolivia.
31:45 Their sick leave at home in the US for 2 years; their income problems.
33:45 Deputation; fund raising.
35:30 Insecurities about staying with Wycliffe; miscommunication with director.
37:00 How deputation has changed; orientation back into US culture. Effective deputation techniques: presentations, church contacts. How a Wycliffe presentation can help churches--ethical salesmanship.
42:15 Mission workers'communication with each other; bonds of fellowship.
43:45 End of side 1.

Tape T2 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Overlap from side 1.
02:00 Cause of miscommunication with director.
02:45 Language families in Bolivia; isolate languages.
05:00 Dominant religions in Bolivia--animism, veneer of Roman Catholicism, mixture of the two. Reality of the spirit world to Bolivian Indians. Common features between Christianity and Indian animist religions. Indian concepts of God--good and bad spirits.
11:30 Racial/ethnic groups in Bolivia. Dominant languages in Bolivia.
13:45 Wycliffe's relationship with the Bolivian government. The main tasks of government relations.
16:30 Communicating Wycliffe's work to the government and media.
18:30 Rumors spread by a Bolivian government official that Wycliffe was contrabanding. Rumors spread by anthropologists and sociologists that Wycliffe missionaries were abusing the Indians. Reasons for rumors.
21:45 Accusation that Wycliffe is involved with the Central Intelligence Agency; how Farah has refuted it. Wycliffe contacts with US government officials--United States Agency for International Development grant, grants from other countries. Policy about government contacts in Wycliffe.
26:30 Affects of political turbulence in Bolivia on Wycliffe.
27:30 Stable institutions in Bolivia--military and Catholic church.
27:45 Military government in Bolivia.
28:15 End of side 2.

Tape T3 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape.
00:05 Continuation of interview on June 7, 1985.
00:30 Inroads of cults in Bolivian culture. Mormons in Bolivia; Mormon grant from USAID. "Moonie" (Unification Church) influence, anti-communist.
04:00 Pentecostal movement in Bolivia.
05:00 Wycliffe and Roman Catholic church relations; support in Bible spreading. Story of teamwork with Roman Catholics to distribute the Bible in Bolivian schools.
10:00 Bible quarterlies from World Home Bible League in Bolivian schools. The spread of the New Testament to all Bolivian public institutions. Opposition within Roman Catholic hierarchy to placement of New Testaments in schools and public institutions.
13:00 How Wycliffe got into Bible distribution; witness to Bolivian government official, Lt. Col. Hugo Banzer; discussion of need for a moral revolution in Bolivia.
16:00 Banzer in jail, then president of the country; his interest in a morality program, which Farah drew up.
18:00 Morality program approved by Bolivian president, Banzer.
18:30 Christian films on Bolivian TV--John Mayes of SIM put in charge. The support of Luis Palau, Chuck Ward; Billy Graham films.
20:15 Took two Bolivian presidential aides to national prayer breakfast in Washington, DC; national prayer breakfast in Bolivia; Sam Clark, speaker. The prayer of President Banzer.
24:30 Other aspects of the morality program. The impetus lost with rapid changes in government.
26:00 The Fernando Vangioni Crusade, Brother Paul Crusade; helped by support from Billy Graham.
27:15 Graham movies.
28:15 Work with training young people and influencing the government.
29:00 The campaign for Bibles in Brazil grew out of program in Bolivia.
30:15 End of interview.


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in June, 1985, from David L. Farah.

Accession 85-79, 85-82
October 7, 1989
Lannae Graham
P. Ericksen
S. Feeck
J. Nasgowitz

Accession 85-79, 85-92
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO Tape TFILE:

T1 - Interview with David L. Farah by Robert Shuster. Description of childhood, education at Wheaton College, joining Wycliffe Bible Translators work in Bolivia, and Cameron Townsend. Recorded on June 5, 1985; reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approximately 90 minutes.

T2 - Interview with David L. Farah by Robert Shuster. Description of Wycliffe work in Peru and Bolivia, particularly related to Farah's administrative responsibilities, touching on relationships with other religious bodies, and national groups and governments. Recorded on June 7, 1985; reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approximately 70 minutes.

T3 - Continuation of interview on June 7, 1985. Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only, approximately 30 minutes.

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Last Revised: 9/09/02
Expiration: indefinite