Billy Graham Center

Interview with Sheri Rose Simon - Collection 348

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Sheri Rose Simon

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Two interviews describing Simon's childhood, conversion, decision to become a missionary, internship in Mexico, medical work in Haiti, voodoo, Haitian politics, the Catholic Church in Haiti and its relationship with Protestant churches, Haitian church and state relationships, and the indigenization of the Haitian church.

Collection 348 [April 19, 2000]
Simon, Sheri R.; 1961-
Interviews; 1986

4 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Sharon Rose "Sheri" Simon was born April 14, 1961, in Garfield Heights, OH, to John and Lois Ann Simon. Her parents were divorced (ca. 1968), after which she lived with her mother and then was adopted by an older half brother. She graduated from high school in 1979, the same year she received the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award. She attended college at Lake Erie College and graduated in 1983 with a B.A., majoring in the Physician's Assistant course. Simon was converted during her sophomore year of college (1980-1981).

During her junior year of college, Simon worked on a short-term basis in a clinic in Mexico to fulfill a graduation requirement; her assignment included classes and work in a clinic supervised by a Mexican doctor. Her experience convinced her to find similar work on a long-term basis. After graduation, she worked at St. Vincent Charity Hospital in Cleveland, OH. Between July 1984 and July 1986 she worked as a medical volunteer with the support of her home church in the Hospital Bon Samaritain in Limbe, Haiti. While in Haiti, Simon witnessed the revolution against and departure of dictator Jean Claude Duvalier, as well as the aftereffects of that political crisis. In the fall of 1986 she returned to Wheaton, IL, to study at Wheaton College Graduate School in the Missions/Intercultural Studies program.

At the time of the interview, Simon was enrolled in the Graduate School in order to complete candidacy requirements of the American Baptist Foreign Missions Board. She discontinued her studies for health reasons at the end of her first semester. In July 1987 she married Rich Roby. The Robys accepted a one-year appointment at the Hospital Bon Samaritain in 1988, where they worked until mid-1989, after which they returned to the United States. During their year in Haiti, the Robys adopted an infant Haitian girl, whom they named Georgette.

Scope and Content

Sheri Simon was interviewed by Robert Shuster on November 4 and 18, 1986, at the BGC Archives office. The time period covered by the interviews is 1968-1986. 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
00:30 [Several stop/starts of tape recorder, blank]
02:30 Family background: problems, life with half-brother
05:30 Catholic background, search for religious meaning, witness of fellow student leading to conversion
17:00 Changes that accompanied decision, witness to friends
21:00 Memories of Catholic church, career goals
25:15 Mission experience in Mexico: feelings, lessons, clinic work, desire to return to mission work
33:00 Mexico: differences in economics, values, polio vaccination efforts
38:45 Christian contacts in Mexico, anger towards Catholicism, resolving feelings, witness to clinic patients and staff
44:15 End of side 1

T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:10 Applying to mission agencies to work as Physician's Assistant
04:00 Discovering opening in Haiti
08:00 Work at St. Vincent's Hospital in Cleveland
11:30 Developing financial support, learning Creole language
13:00 Problems traveling to Haiti and Limbe: transportation, language barriers
18:45 Hospital Bon Samaritain: staff, Dr. Hodges, services and care, patient load
23:30 Witness in clinic, daily devotions, Creole Bible and hymnals
26:30 Typical day and responsibilities
30:00 Training program for Haitians to work in hospital
32:00 End of side 2

T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape [intermittent sound not erased from previous recording]
02:00 Common diseases, malnutrition and diet, injuries
07:30 Difficulty piecing together information from patients, causes for reluctance
12:30 Haitian folk medicine: use of pharmaceutical drugs, spirits as explanation of illness, superstitions, developing explanation which patient can understand, convincing patients to follow treatment
20:15 End of interview [intermittent sound not erased from previous recording]

T3 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape [intermittent sound not erased from previous recording]
01:15 Introduction to interview on November 18, 1986
01:45 Voodoo in Haitian life, friend's description of a voodoo ritual, large national celebrations (as example of syncretism and Satanic power), relationship to medical practices
12:15 Haitian world view, prevalence of spirit world, leading Haitian to Christ
14:30 Haitian reluctance to trust others, building trust, example of undoing trust
24:30 Voodoo as syncretism between African religion and Catholicism, Protestant stand against voodoo, impact of 1985 revolution on voodoo, retaliation against witch doctors, how new convert demonstrates break from voodoo
33:30 1985-1986 revolution against Jean Claude Duvalier: conditions and incidents, martial law and curfew, impact on clinic, Duvalier's departure, jubilation of people
44:30 End of side 1

T3 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:10 Continuation on aftermath of revolution
01:15 Desire for freedom, prospects for development of democracy
06:15 Retaliation against president's "special police," excuse for general vengeance
10:45 Role of Catholic Church and Protestant churches in revolution, sermons appealing for spiritual and political role in national renewal
14:30 Anarchy in the political vacuum, communist influence
16:45 Relationship between Catholics and Protestants
18:15 Church in Haiti: growing, stabilizing influence
21:00 Typical Baptist worship service and Sunday school, dramatic preaching, language, availability of the Bible
27:30 Typical church week: choir practice, group meetings, Sunday night praise service, vaccinations (Catholic Church), church-run school
30:15 End of tape

T4 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape [intermittent sound not erased from previous recording]
01:15 Church and state relationship during Duvalier's rule and since revolution, priests as potential leaders, church's stabilizing role
04:45 Relations between mission groups, cooperation in worship and projects,
07:45 Minimal anti-American feelings, nationalization of mission radio station, influence of station maintained
12:00 American Baptist plans to nationalize programs, personal hope to develop training for Haitians as consultants to continue hospital work, learning from the other attempts
17:00 Personal change, seeing Haitian perspective
18:45 End of interview


The materials in this collection were given to the Center by Sheri Simon in November 1986.

Acc.: 86-121, 86-125
December 21, 1993
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

Accession: 86-121, 86-125
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:.

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 75 minutes, one side only. Oral history interview with Sheri Simon by Robert Shuster on November 4, 1986. Topics covered include her youth, conversion, short-term mission experience in Mexico, joining American Baptist mission, raising support, and clinic work in Haiti.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 20 minutes, one side only. Continuation of oral history interview with Sheri Simon by Robert Shuster on November 4, 1986. Topics covered include clinic work, common diseases, folk medicine and impact of Haitian world view on medical services.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 75 minutes, one side only. Oral history interview with Sheri Simon by Robert Shuster on November 18, 1986. Topics covered include voodoo and its impact on Haitian life, 1985-1986 revolution and churches role in uprising, relations between Catholics and Protestants, and typical church worship and activities.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 19 minutes, one side only. Continuation of oral history interview with Sheri Simon by Robert Shuster on November 18, 1986. Topics covered include church/state relations, cooperation among mission agencies, nationalization of mission programs, training Haitian leaders.

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Last Revised: 9/09/02
Expiration: indefinite