Billy Graham Center

Interview with Dexter B. Gordon - Collection 437

[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

Biography of Dexter B. Gordon

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection

Brief Description.
Oral history interview in which Gordon describes growing up in Jamaica, his family, social conditions on the island, the role of Sunday school, in his life and the community, his conversion, spiritual mentor Amy Lord, his participation in sports, his and his parents involvement in politics, love for oratory and preaching, Jamaican worship, work in Youth for Christ, evangelism among young people, his work as an air-traffic controller, the role and influence of the church and Rastafari movement in Jamaican society, the church's response to the 1988 Hurricane Gilbert, the strengths and weaknesses of the Jamaican church, theological training at Jamaican Theological Seminary, Youth for Christ's ministry in Jamaica, and his desire for culturally relevant outreach.
Vol.: 4 Reels of Audio Tape

Collection 437
[February 10, 2000]
Gordon, Dexter B.; 1955- Interviews; 1990

4 Reels of Audio Tape

Restrictions: None.


Full name: Dexter Barrington Gordon

Birth date: June 22, 1955

Birth place: Old Harbour Bay, St. Catherine, Jamaica

Parents: Murrel and Eutedra Gordon (both deceased)
Siblings: Seventh of fourteen children
Marital Status: Married Joan (nee Fearon) in January 1977
Children: Donja-lee (b. 1979), Janelle (b. 1984), LeVar (b. 1986)

Conversion: In 1973 at age 18, through influences of childhood involvement in church and a Sunday school teacher, Mrs. Amy Lord

1973 Graduated from St. Jago High School, Jamaica
1980-1984 Jamaica Theological Seminary (graduated as valedictorian)
1990-1992 Wheaton College Graduate School - M.A. in Communications

1974-1975 Assistant to the Clerk of Courts in a Resident Magistrate's Court
1975-1985 Air traffic controller
1984-1985 Part-time assistant to his pastor
1984-1985 Part-time Director of Ministries with Jamaica Youth for Christ
1985-1990 National Executive Director for Jamaica Youth for Christ (YFC)

Scope and Content

Dexter Gordon was interviewed by Robert Shuster on October 5 and October 25, 1990, at the Billy Graham Center in Wheaton, Illinois. The time period covered by the interviews is 1955-1990.

T1 (65 minutes). Family background, parents' character and influence, church involvement, early spiritual development, competition and animosity between political parties in Jamaica, parents' political involvement and leadership in the community; father's leadership, character and speaking ability; social conditions in the community, sense of inferiority because of his skin darkness, benefits and responsibilities of growing up in a large family; the impact of Sunday school on him and its place in the community, resisting faith in Christ, conversion through persistent Sunday school teachers, the change in role of Sunday school in the community, value of memorizing Scripture, recollections of Sunday school teacher and spiritual mother Amy Lord; cultural and personal significance of sports, summer routine as a young Jamaican boy, influence of athletics on his character, continuing competitiveness and desire to "expose all of the potential inside myself," events leading up to his conversion (his progress through the Jamaican school system, growing anger and isolation at not succeeding enough on pre-college exams)

T2 (25 minutes). More about conversion (isolation from church, feeling of emptiness even in success, choosing Christ), love for politics, decision to become involved in church instead of political party, desire to be a politician, comparing preaching and oration, Jamaican worship (music, qualities of worship, personal creativity in leading worship-leading, importance of freedom of expression), introduction to Youth For Christ (YFC) and move into leadership ranks, Saturday rallies, church's evangelistic street meetings, comparing church's and YFC's street meetings, broad denominational perspective through YFC compared to narrow perspective of church

T3 (65 minutes). Amy Lord (character, activities, spiritual influence and contribution, ability to ignore class boundaries), class boundaries in Jamaica and the church, the church's place in Jamaican society and prevalence of nominalism, denominational segmenting of the church between older and newer bodies, social involvement by the church and need for balance, examples from YFC experience of how para-church organizations cut across denominational barriers, church's unified disaster relief after Hurricane Gilbert in 1988, other organizations and Bible colleges, strengths of the Jamaican church (place in Jamaica's history, involvement in daily life and politics), corresponding weaknesses (lack of unity, unhealthy political involvement, being marginalized by and in mainstream media, silence on social issues), preaching style in Jamaica, lack of relevance to and influence on the culture at large, Rastafarianism (widespread impact on society, authentication of Black culture, communal nature contrasted with the divided church, reggae music and its Rastafarian connection, impact on the church), the church's diminished relevance because of its representing colonial rather than Jamaican ways, comparing value of time in the churches in Jamaica and America, conflict between desire to be a lawyer and love for God

T4 (55 minutes). Moral conflicts in the criminal justice system, decision to become an air traffic controller (characteristics of the job, relevance of the training and experience for life and ministry), meeting his wife, challenged to take theological education through devotional time, acceptance to Jamaica Theological Seminary, God's provision of physical needs seen as affirmation of his direction, work on YFC staff, characteristics of Jamaica Theological Seminary based on American model, student body size, broad denominational and national representation), work with YFC (value, opportunities, limitations, aggressively evangelistic, work toward greater social involvement, encouraging greater community involvement and use of YFC programs, promoting Jamaican culture and music in a Christian setting, staff size, geographical scope work throughout the island), his role as YFC director (activist and visionary), education at Wheaton College, challenge to communicate the gospel creatively to overcome people's perceptions and stereotypes


The materials in this collection were received from Gordon by the Center in October 1990.

Accession 90-110, 90-116
June 27, 1997
Paul A. Ericksen
M. Congdon

Accession 90-110, 90-116
Type of Material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 65 minutes. One side. Interview with Dexter Gordon by Robert Shuster, October 5, 1990.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 25 minutes. One side. Continuation of interview on T1.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 65 minutes. One side. Interview with Dexter Gordon by Robert Shuster, October 25, 1990.

T4 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips speed, approximately 55 minutes. One side. Continuation of interview on T3.

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Last Revised: 2/10/00
Expiration: indefinite