Billy Graham Center

Interview with Catherine Saavedra Velasco - Collection 388

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of Catherine Saavedra Velasco

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Two oral history interviews with Velasco about her life and ministry in the Philippines, including her childhood, education, and work as a Bible school teacher. Other subjects covered include theological education and evangelism in the Philippines, the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church, Filipino culture, Muslims, Catholics, Ebenezer Bible College, and Wheaton College Graduate School. Interviews were recorded on 4/4/88 and 4/5/88.

Collection 388 [May 30, 2000]
Velasco, Catherine Saavedra; 1957-
Interview; 1988

4 Reels of Audio Tape


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Catherine Saavedra Velasco was born in Parang, Cotabato, on the island of Mindanao in the Philippines in 1957, the seventh child of twelve. Her father served in the army and was away much of the time. Her mother oversaw the family's coconut plantation, the home, and the children while her husband was away. Her parents were both from a Roman Catholic background, but became Protestants through missionary evangelistic efforts and they attended a Christian and Missionary Alliance church. As a child, Catherine attended vacation Bible school and, when she was nine, she felt God's call to serve as a full-time Christian worker. Each time she heard an altar call, she would respond, until at eleven she finally understood that she did not need to continually go forward, but that receiving Christ was a one-time event.

When Velasco was six, her father transferred to Digos, Daveo del Sur, due to the violence associated with Muslim rebels around Cotabato. She attended Holy Cross Academy there, the only Protestant in the Catholic school. For a time, she thought she might become a Catholic because of the impression the nuns who taught her made upon her. However, she was even more impressed by her Protestant pastor and, after graduation from high school in 1973, told her parents that she was going to enter the ministry. They strongly opposed this, wishing her to become a lawyer. Nevertheless, she enrolled in Ebenezer Bible College in Zamboanga City, Mindanao.

After graduating in 1978 with a Bachelor of Religious Education (BRE) degree, she was recommended as a teacher to a sister school, the Mickelson Memorial Bible School in Jose Abad Santos, Daveo, a remote tribal region of Mindanao. Her ministry there was cut short due to illness. She did administrative work for a time for Campus Crusade for Christ "Here's Life Philippines" campaign. After that, she became Coordinator for Research and Statistics for the Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines (CAMACOP) in Zamboanga City. From there, she was invited to return to Ebenezer and teach. For that, she felt the need for further training and, through the school's Faculty Development Plan and the Billy Graham Center Scholarship Program, she was able to attend the Wheaton College Graduate School in Wheaton, Illinois. She received an MA degree in 1988 and planned to return to the Philippines. As of 1992, Velasco had married another Wheaton graduate, Bruce G. Peters, and lived in Illinois.

Scope and Content

Catherine Saavedra Velasco was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 19, 1987, at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College. The time period covered by the interview is 1957 to 1988. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to the cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

Tape T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Introduction
01:15 Childhood: early life in Muslim community of Parang, Cotabato, Philippines; country and city life; family size; parents' ethnic background; mother's management of family coconut plantation while father was in army
08:00 Parents' Roman Catholic background; their conversion and attendance at a Christian and Missionary Alliance (C&MA) church; family religious practices; move to Davao del Sur due to violent Muslim rebels; murder of neighbors
15:45 Family life with twelve brothers and sisters; freedom and independence to make own decisions
21:45 Extended family reactions to conversion; pressure from grandparents; being the only Protestant family in the neighborhood and the only Protestant girl in Holy Cross Academy
27:00 Enjoyment of church activities; conversion and early commitment to Christian work; influence of pastor
32:30 Student activism in high school: selection as a leader; study of social and economic oppression; programs for social change; imposition of martial law and resulting disbanding of social change groups; frustration at lack of ability to help oppressed
43:30 Recognition of problems as ultimately spiritual ones; decision to attend Ebenezer Bible College; changes that accompanied martial law
47:00 End of side 1

Tape T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1
02:45 New Communist government propaganda; social changes; government control
03:45 Parents' anger at decision not to study law; determination to attend Bible College; parents' poor view of persons in ministry and ensuing attitude change
09:45 Career and ministry options as a woman; C&MA policy on women in ministry; pastor's influence in Bible school attendance; description of Bible college programs, education, and struggle to grow spiritually; influence of David Stockwell [MA, Wheaton College, 1970]
16:45 Wish to become a teacher as a sophomore; feeling inadequate for pastorate; influence of teachers on the decision to teach; internship at a city church under Christian education director; earning college degree
22:00 Work as a teacher in a tribal Bible school; frustration with inability to communicate because of school policy of teaching only in English
26:15 End of tape T1

Tape T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Frustrations at inability to communicate because of school English policy and students lack of understanding; alteration in teaching policy; sharing her life with the students
04:00 Evangelistic and administrative training and work with Campus Crusade for Christ's "Here's Life Philippines" campaign; lack of follow-through on the part of pastors; positive reception on the part of community
09:30 Research position in C&MA headquarters; invitation to teach part-time at Ebenezer School
16:00 Description of job transition from C&MA headquarters to Ebenezer; attending Wheaton College Graduate School under Faculty Development Plan and as a Billy Graham Center scholar
19:00 End of tape T2

Tape T3 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:45 Introduction
01:15 Wheaton College Graduate School: scholarship process; obtaining two master's degrees, one each in Theological Studies and Educational Ministries, difficulty of programs, intense focus on academics, satisfaction with the programs
10:00 Perceptions of America before and after time here, limited exposure to life outside of Wheaton College; similarities of American and Filipino church
14:45 Previous exposure to missionaries before arrival in America: C&MA missionaries in the Philippines, attending local missionary conferences as a high school student, a missionary couple
19:00 C&MA's policy was to have missionaries involved in teaching, with administration done by nationals
25:00 Ebenezer Bible College: work in school administration offices, differences between American and Filipino classes, types of weekend student ministries (house-to-house evangelism, neighborhood Bible studies, hospital and prison visitation), motivational role in the ministries and Bible studies, description of neighborhood ministry, typical day for Ebenezer student, requirements and cost of school, average age of students, student ministries after graduation
44:15 Changes in Bible school since her graduation
44:45 End of side 1

Tape T3 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 Changes in Ebenezer Bible School over the years: strict rules eased, addition of a discipleship ministry, impact of school changes on students and teachers, criticisms of changes; positive effects of changes
08:00 Comparison of Bible and tribal school curriculum: copied American curriculum, frustration at lack of indigenous curriculum and desire to help develop this upon returning home, struggles with remaining a part of her original culture after being in the U.S.
13:00 Personal changes since time in the U.S.: broader perspective and decision-making skills and better relational skills
15:30 Exposure to and description of Muslim communities, differences between Muslim and Filipino communities, increase in strength of minority Muslim community due to revolutionary activity
23:00 Tribal and cultural group relations in Mindanao and in the church
25:45 End of tape T3

Tape T4 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:15 The Philippine church: superstition, influence of evangelical Christians, growth of Christianity, cooperation between denominations
06:45 Church planting emphasis of C&MA, growth of cooperation between Protestants and Catholics, liberation theology discussions
16:30 Discipleship and evangelism strengths of Philippine C&MA churches and social work strength of the Catholic churches
18:00 Weaknesses in Filipino church: the focus of Protestants on the youth separates and alienates them from their families; Mormons' strategy of reaching out to heads of families first successful in getting entire families
22:00 American misperceptions of Filipinos as being poor, animistic, uneducated
26:45 Velasco different from "usual" Filipino in being time- and goal-oriented; her misperceptions of Americans as all being kind, gentle, helpful from her experience with missionaries
31:00 Strengths of American churches: discipleship, caring for members, many interest groups. Weakness of church: less stress on evangelism
34:00 Tension in Philippines between the Christians and the Communists and Muslims
41:30 End of tape T4


The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in April 1988 by Catherine S. Velasco.

Accession 88-27, 88-28
July 8, 1994
Janyce H. Nasgowitz
W. G. Thompson

Accession 87-27, 87-28
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. Interview of Catherine Saavedra Velasco by Paul Ericksen on April 27, 1988, at the Billy Graham Center Archives. Velasco discusses her childhood, education, ministry as a Bible school teacher, work with "Here's Life Philippines" sponsored by Campus Crusade for Christ, and work with Christian and Missionary Alliance Churches of the Philippines. Covers the period from 1957 to 1986.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 20 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview of Catherine Velasco by Paul Ericksen on April 27, 1988.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 45 minutes, one side only. Second interview of Catherine Saavedra Velasco by Paul Ericksen on April 28, 1988. Velasco discusses Christian education, C&MA ministry, Filipino culture, Muslims, Catholics, Ebenezer Bible College, and Wheaton College Graduate School education. Covers time period from 1982 to 1988.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, 40 minutes, one side only. Continuation of interview of Catherine Velasco by Paul Ericksen on April 28, 1988.

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Last Revised: 9/10/02
Expiration: indefinite