Billy Graham Center

Interview with Deborah J. Seymour - Collection 316

[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


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

Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Record)
    Audio Tapes


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Transcript 3

Brief Description.

Two interviews with Seymour who grew up as a child of missionaries in Papua New Guinea and worked as an English teacher in Honduras with World Gospel Mission and Churches of Christ in Christian Union from 1983 to 1985. Topics duscussed include her parents' missionary work, her childhood as an MK among tribal people, Latin American culture and her own life and work in Honduras. The time period covered ranges from 1960 to 1985. Interviews were recorded in 1985 and 1986. The interviews are part of the Missionary Sources Collection. For more information, please see the guide.
Vol: 3 Audio Tapes

Collection 316
[April 10, 2000]
Seymour, Deborah J.; 1960-
Interviews; 1985-1986

3 Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Deborah J. Seymour was born in Cambridge, OH, in 1960. Seymour's parents, Donald and Betty Seymour, left an Ohio pastorate in 1964 to work as missionaries in Papua New Guinea among the Kar and Utipia tribes. Seymour returned to the U.S. in 1973 and enrolled in a Christian boarding school for her high school education. Completing high school in 1977, she enrolled in Circleville Bible College, from which she received her BA degree in 1981. Following a quarter-year of deputation in late-1982, she went to Honduras in 1983 with World Gospel Mission and Churches of Christ in Christian Union. While in Honduras, she worked as an English teacher in a private Christian high school. Her contributions while in Honduras also included counseling and participating in a church planting project. Seymour returned to the U.S. in late 1984 and entered the Educational Ministries department at Wheaton College's Graduate School in 1985. She graduated from the MA program in 1986 and intended to return to Honduras in early 1987.

Scope and Content

Deborah J. Seymour was interviewed by Robert Shuster on October 4, 1985, and August 4, 1986, at the offices of the Billy Graham Center Archives. The dates of the events covered by the interviews were as follows: T1, 1960-1973; T2, 1973-1985; T3, 1983-1985. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interviews. This index is keyed to a cassette copy of the interview, not the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
01:00 Introduction
01:30 Birth in Cambridge, OH, father pastored two small churches
02:00 Family's transfer to largest pastorate in the Churches of Christ in Christian Union denomination located in Lancaster, OH
02:45 Denomination's beginning work in Papua New Guinea and father's promotion of work to congregation
03:15 Blank on tape
03:30 God's call to parents in 1964 to New Guinea. Mother's resulting illness,
subsequent confirmation, and local church's reaction to losing pastor
04:45 Details about family
05:15 Early memory of arrival at home at government station of Nipa
06:45 National's excitement by novelty of white people. Continuation of recollection of early memories
07:45 Description of Melanesian Pidgin English
08:15 Childhood games with New Guinea children and use of imagination
09:15 Father's construction of airstrip
09:30 Continuation of description of imaginative play
10:00 Journey to the mountains and swimming in Nembi River
10:45 Living among the Kar and Utipia tribe
11:45 Ongoing tribal disputes over land and revenge killings
13:45 Scope of father's travels to preach
15:00 Father's involvement in construction, starting Bible school and agricultural work while stationed among the Kar
16:15 Recollections of grandfather's involvement in and visit to assist work
17:00 Mother's contribution to work comprised caring for children and holding womens' Bible classes
18:00 The conversions of national Christians and evidence of their release from spirit worship
19:45 Men's and women's roles in polygamous society
21:15 Grade school education by correspondence course
21:45 Tribal women's spiritual growth and awareness of practical aspects of faith in areas such as abortion and polygamy
23:45 Attitudes toward polygamy by national church and mission
25:30 Traveling with father to prearranged meetings for preaching and evangelism. Description of meeting components: their length, size, music and location. Durability of faith
32:00 Importance of pre-evangelism to overcome misconceptions, and effectiveness of father's preaching on salvation and God's love. Biblical concepts in local language
34:45 Tribal religion described in illustration of celebration with witchcraft, dancing and eating
36:15 Tribal legends corresponding to biblical flood and Jonah
36:30 Presence and examples of cargo cults
40:30 Seymour's committment to Christ at age seven and childhood struggles with sin and obeying parents
44:45 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:10 Overlap from side 1
04:50 Continued description of personal struggle: spiritual rebelliousness and searching
06:30 Contribution of father's prayer to resolution of problem
07:40 Surrender to Christ, freedom from struggle and subsequent elation
11:55 Call to become a missionary in Ecuador and later more generally to Latin America
13:15 Influence of missionary on call to become a missionary in Ecuador
16:20 American Christians' perceptions of Latin American churches and their support of missionaries
19:25 Effect of growing up in missionary family: examples of how more prepared to become a missionary. Advantages of lessons learned in preparation to become a missionary
22:50 Fire destroyed family's home and much of contents in Papua New Guinea
28:20 Adjustments and experiences as student in U.S
31:45 Comparison of male-female relationships in U.S. with those in Papua New Guinea
34:05 Rejection and acceptance of identity as an American: identity as an international person
35:40 Preparation for missionary work: Spanish study and Bible college
38:35 Conclusion of Tape T1

Tape T2 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Introduction
01:00 Awareness of opportunity to work in Honduras in high school (Sections of tape severely distorted and/or inaudible.)
03:00 Original call to Ecuador and subsequent confirmation
06:00 Application process and acceptance by several missions
08:00 Reasons for involvement in church planting and evangelism
09:30 Deputation prior to short-term assignment
11:30 Recognition of need for additional preparation as teacher; contribution possible as skilled teacher
13:30 Arrival in Honduras
14:00 Deputation, support-raising, and communicating needs in Honduras
16:45 Departure for Honduras
17:15 Frustrations with communicating in Spanish due to unrealistic high expectations
18:15 Teachers' meetings in Spanish
19:30 First impressions of Honduras (Brief section distorted.)
20:15 Litter and filthiness of Tegucigalpa contrasted with Hondurans' liveliness, vibrancy of life, and courtesy
24:10 Exuberance of life in Tegucigalpa's Central Park
25:25 Typical day in high school
26:00 Living accommodations and description of personal expenses
28:35 Transportation to school; crowded buses
33:10 Class schedule
34:00 Various programs in high school and vocations accessible with degree
35:40 Honduran university education
36:10 Cost and quality of education in Honduras
37:25 Reputation of Virginia South Christian High School
37:55 Christian content in school curriculum: examples of courses and designing curriculum to deal with life issues
41:15 Work as a member of the chaplain's team
42:40 Preaching themes which ellicited most response
44:41 Social position of students
44:30 End of side 1

Tape T2 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:10 Overlap from Side 1
02:10 Description of typical member of Honduran middle class
02:55 Students paid for school through collective family assistance and employment
05:15 Typical school day (continued)
05:45 Counseling students about family difficulties; examples of problems
08:55 Dominance of male machismo and resultant disruption of family and diminshed self-esteem among female students
12:40 Example of counseled student
14:10 Counseling required making God's love real
16:25 Honduran worship services included contextualized messages
21:00 Relational aspects of society at formal and informal levels
22:35 Busyness of a Honduran church's weekly schedule
26:10 Special service for satellite congregations including communion
29:30 Celebration as a means of transcending one's state in light of concept of limited good
33:45 Difference between Honduran evangelicals and Hondurans in general
35:10 End of Tape T2

Tape T3 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Impact of social change on Honduran church: recognition of womens' contribution to church and society
01:05 Womens' stabilizing role within Latin society
03:30 Women pastors
04:10 Increased responsibility of men
04:30 Blank on tape
04:40 Honduran women (continued)
05:30 Society's acceptance of evangelicals
06:20 Attitude change toward evangelicals by Catholics (some sections distorted)
07:05 Evangelical influence among Catholics
07:35 Majority of Catholics characterized by nominalism, a dichotomy between faith and practice
08:40 Enabling role of missionaries in Honduran church
09:45 Structure of Honduran church
12:50 Spiritism and need among Hondurans for supernatural
14:40 Witchcraft experience in converted student's family; other experiences with witchcraft
21:00 Need for supernatural; mixture of Christian symbols and superstition
24:10 Culture shock experienced in coming to United States
27:05 Adjustment to Honduras less traumatic due to previous experience; examples of Honduran cultural features compared with parallel features in North America
31:10 Value of experience in Honduras
33:55 Conclusion of Tape T3


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in October 1985 and August 1986 from Deborah Seymour.

Accession #85-132 and 86-90

November 18, 1986
Paul A. Ericksen
J. Nasgowitz
J. Watson

Accession: 85-132, 86-90
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items listed below are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 78 minutes. One side only. Interview with Deborah J. Seymour by Robert Shuster. Discussion of Seymour's background and conversion, growing up in missionary family in New Guinea, parent's work among Kar and Utipia tribes, evangelistic work, and schooling in the United States; October 4, 1985.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 78 minutes. One side only. Interview with Deborah J. Seymour by Robert Shuster. Discussion of Seymour's call and appointment as missionary to Ecuador, church planting, evangelism, service in Honduras, Honduras education, Honduran churches, and counseling; August 4, 1986.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 34 minutes. One side only. Interview with Deborah J. Seymour by Robert Shuster. Discussion of women's role in missionary work, acceptance of evangelicals in Honduras, relationship between Catholics and Evangelicals, Honduran church, culture shock, and spiritism; August 4, 1986.

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