Billy Graham Center

Interview with William Adam Stier - Collection 479

[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 William Adam Stier

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

Lists of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Audio file and written transcript for T1

Audio file and written transcript for T2

Audio file and written transcript for T3

Brief Description
Interview with Stier, missionary with Africa Inland Mission in Tanzania from 1938 through 1978. Topics covered in the two sessions include his youth and conversion, marriage, Bible school education, call to missions, his work with the Sakuma and Tuzu peoples, his ministry as a teacher of African pastors; the transition from mission to indigenous church control in Tanzania, the policies and personnel of AIM, Emil Sywulka, political changes in Tanzania, polygamy and animism, church discipline, tribal relations, relations with other Christian missions, short-term vs. career missionaries issues, spiritual hardships of being a missionary. For more information, please see guide.
Vol.: 3 Reels of Audio Tape

Collection 479
[November 6, 2007]
Stier, William Adam; 1912-2004
Interview; 1993

3 reels of tape

Restrictions: None


Full name: William Adam Stier

Birth date: November 13, 1912, in Cheltenham, Pennsylvania

Death date: February 4, 2004


Parents: William A., Sr. and Martha Stier

Siblings: Two older sisters

Marital Status: Married Virginia Steitz in 1935

Conversion: Ca. 1918, through the efforts of the leader of his church youth group

Education: Career:

Other significant information: Grew up in the German Lutheran tradition; ordained to Christian work by Rev. George Palmer ca. 1938

Scope and Content

William Stier was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on January 19-20, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1918-1993.

T1 (70 minutes). Family background, events leading up to his and his family's conversion at the about the age of sixteen through the efforts of Mr. Haven; George Palmer and the Haddon Heights Baptist Church in New Jersey; evangelistic impact of the church on the surrounding area; Palmer's personality; emphasis on separation from the world; support from the church for the Stiers during their missionary work; influence of missionaries Paul and Helen Whitlock on William and Virginia Stier; more on the Stiers' call to missions and teaching; meeting Virginia Steitz, his future wife; the National Bible Institute and the missionary medical program; support costs for a missionary in 1938; first impressions of Tanganyika, the mission station at Nyida (Lohumbo) and the Whitlocks; studying the Sukuma language; disadvantage of just studying the Swahili language; difference between William and Virginia Stier's language skills; theological terms in the Sukuma language; description of general missionary work during his first term - visiting churches, running a mission printing press; advantage of being in general work for his later teaching of African pastors; William and Nida Maynard; duties of an AIM field director; Stier's experience of being field director during the time when Tanzania became independent; more on the duties of the field director; visit of Harold Ferrin; relations between missionaries in the AIM; transfer of leadership from the mission to the local church and the reaction of missionaries to the process; the origins of the Africa Inland Church in Tanzania; three years at the Bible school; moving the Bible school to Katungulu; typical day at the Bible school; faculty of the school in the early days; Andrea Ngusa, one of the first African teachers at the school; other African teachers; the geographic distribution of the students from all over the field and their relations with each other; subjects taught; relatively little impact of World War II on life in Tanganyika; stories of missionary experiences in Tanganyika during the First World War; difficulty of leaving Tanzania on furlough after the war and traveling on a former troopship

T2 (55 minutes) First furlough in 1946-1947. The move of the school to Katungulu on Lake Victoria in 1946 and building a new school building; Miss Lucilda Newton, the music teacher; other faculty at the school (the Donners, the Hoovers); Stier's appointment as field director in 1958; relationship between the mission and Africa Inland Church (AIC) and the transfer of responsibilities to the church; William Maynard's long service as Tanganyika field director; Emil Sywulka as first field director of Tanganyika; memories of Tanzania' independence; attitudes of Africans toward independence; comments on the name Tanzania; peaceful relations between tribes except for the Masai; the church's attitude toward polygamy; AIC's discipline of its members for moral lapses; the increasing complexity of subjects taught at the school over time; Virginia Stier's work with the wives of the students at the Bible school; starting a new school at Majahida ca. 1964; comparing Bible schools in Kenya and Tanzania; Chuck Henning; program for Christian workers and pastors at the Bible schools; the Tuzu tribe; the doctrinal and ecclesiastical character of the AIC in Tanzania; respect for leaders in the church; other missions in the area (Church Missionary Society from Australia, Adventists, Mennonites, Pentecostals); relations with the Catholic White Father missionaries; Bible translation and the Catholic missionaries; problems with Pentecostal missionaries; difficulties for some missionaries in accepting transfer to African authority; AIC leaders Yeremia Kisula, Mereki Mayala, and Yoane Akudri; Kisula's push for Tanzanian control of the AIC; differences in the missionary enterprise from 1938 to 1993; joys of a teaching ministry;

T3 (25 minutes) Qualitative difference between taking six weeks to get to field and a few days; the difficulty of old missionaries and new missionaries adjusting to each other; need for sensitivity regarding African attitudes toward gender roles; learning by doing in the field; advice from senior missionaries on African culture; Stier's perspective on the work as field director as an intermediary between mission and church, missionaries and home office; Stier's nickname "emprjiwa mpuza" or "the tanner of hides" because he made valuable workers from untrained people; another nickname and other comments from Africans on his work; Stier's weaknesses as a missionary; more on Miss Newton; a missionary joke; missing the fellowship of your home church as a missionary; importance of personal devotions


The material in this collection was given to the BGC Archives by William Stier in January 1993.

Accession: 93-13
January 4, 2001
Robert Shuster

Accession: 93-13
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the Audio Tape file.

T1 - Reel, 3 ips, 70 minutes, one side only. Interview of William A. Stier by Paul Ericksen on January 19, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Florida.

T2 - Reel, 3 ips, 55 minutes, one side only. Interview of William A. Stier by Paul Ericksen on January 20, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Florida.

T3 - Reel, 3 ips, 25 minutes, one side only. Conclusion of T2.

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