Billy Graham Center

Interview of Margaret L. Clapper - Collection 480

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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)

List Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes


Audio file and written transcript for T1

Audio file and written transcript for T2

Audio file and written transcript for T3

Audio file and written transcript for T4

Brief Description
Interview with Clapper, missionary with Africa Inland Mission in Belgian Congo/Zaire from 1939-1980. Topics covered in two sessions include her youth, conversion, Bible school education at Moody Bible Institute, missionary work in central Africa, Belgian administration of the Congo, work among pygmies, Zaire politics and government, independence of the country in 1960 and the Simba rebellion, transition from mission to national authority, singleness, role of women in church and mission, the transition of churches from mission to national Christian leadership and spiritual hardships of missionary work.
Vol.: 4 Reels of Audio Tape

Collection 480 [July 6, 2007]
Clapper, Margaret L.; 1912-2005
Interview; 1993
4 reels of Audio tape

Restrictions: None


Full name: Margaret L. Clapper
Birth date: February 13, 1912, in East Canton, Ohio, to a family of farmers
Death date: December 19, 2005

Conversion: ca. 1928 through her pastor, David Sellers
Education: 1935-1938 Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, Illinois

Other significant information: While she was growing up, she and her family were members of the German Reformed Church. Later moved to the Canton Christian Home in Canton, Ohio where she led the Bible study and was otherwise active in ministry.

Scope and Content

Margaret L. Clapper was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on January 19 and 22, 1993, at the Africa Inland Mission Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida. The events described in the interview cover the time period ca. 1924-1993.

T1 (65 minutes). Family background; the German Reformed Church and early memories of Sunday school and worship services; her conversion; support from the church for her to go to Moody Bible Institute (MBI); her call to be a missionary; joining the Africa Inland Mission; influence of a missionary dying of cancer (Helen Ligler); raising support for her mission work; leaving for Africa in early 1939 on the advice of Norman Camp; memories of her years at MBI ; her party the last to go to Africa because of the war; preparation to be a missionary; arrival in Kenya and travel to the Belgian Congo; Edward Schuit; memories of the trip to Aba, Belgian Congo; first assignment to Kasengu; difficulties caused by the war; difficulties with available oil and milk; demonstrating her milking skills; building practices at Kasengu; making a stove; her African cook; typical African meals; available foods at Rethy; working in the girl's home/school in Kasengu; the Alur people; mistakes made by westerners in the Alur language; the fall of the grasshoppers; more language mistakes by Westerners; food offerings to the Lord; characteristics of the Dhu Alur and Swahili languages; description of the students, curriculum and dormitories; growing influence of the girl's school at Rethy; "women [in the Congo] are the backbone of the church;" outstanding women leaders - Phoebe (Rokeli), Rhoda wife of Tamsi; moving to Rethy in 1940; problems with ants and chiggers; African solutions to the jiggers problem

T2 (70 minutes). Working at the girl's school at Rethy; friction between Alur and Landu tribes at Rethy; visiting villages around Rethy on a donkey with Barnetta Wambold (?); the tale of the squeaky shoes at a worship service; post-conversion changes in dress at Rethy; the missionary kids at Rethy; her first furlough in the United States; difficulty of getting supplies and funds during World War II; the Belgian administration of the country; the country's unreadiness for independence and the decline of business and agricultural enterprises afterwards; changes in the school children after independence; complaints made against the missionaries; Clapper's move to Biasiko in 1950 to work among the pygmies; characteristics of the pygmies; marriage customs of the pygmies in the Ituri forest; Clapper's belief that only the pygmies of the Ituri forest are true pygmies; pygmies' beliefs about spirits and the forest; music with the molimo (a kind of pipe); relations between the pygmies and their overlords in the village; the Ituri forest; use of pygmy habits in a sermon; roles of men and women among the pygmies; more on relations between pygmies and their village overlords; the good memories of the pygmies; explaining the Trinity; presenting the gospel to the pygmies with Nicolau Baba; the pygmy language (Kimbuti); traveling to pygmy camps; a pygmy hunt for antelopes; hunting elephants and cutting them up

T3 (70 minutes). Relations between villagers and pygmies; using pictures and flannelgraph to communicate the gospel; the pygmy musician and evangelist Baloi Epaineto; pygmy love of singing and jokes; problems in developing mature Christians along pygmies; a typical pygmy sermon; other difficulties in building a pygmy church; pygmy worship services and music; more on the importance of molimo; suffering of pygmies during the Simba rebellion; Clapper's activities from 1960 to1966; relations between pygmies, missionaries and other tribes at Oicha; doing work with women prisoners in Kenya and stories of individual prisoners; returning to Zaire in 1966 after the rebellion; destruction of missionary property; suffering of the people at Oicha during the Simba rebellion; pygmy burial practices and practices of other tribes; Clapper's work in the Bible school after the rebellion and her movements until her retirement; problems that polygamy caused among Christian tribes people; spirit worship and curses and church punishments for those practices; being sent away from the Lord's table (communion); other examples of church discipline; Zephaniah Kasali; Jim Bell and the training of African workers; Kasali's strengths and weaknesses as a pastor; names and titles the Zaireans called the missionaries; transition of authority to the nationals in the 1950s and 60s; Clapper's methods of teaching the Bible; difference in missionary life from Zaire to Kenya; changes in the way missionaries relate to national Christians; concerns about the materialism of modern missionaries; memories of the simplicity of missionary life in the 1930s and 1940s; social conflict between modern missionaries and Congolese Christians; problems with short term missionaries; problems caused by missionaries living too well; Clapper's decision to go overseas despite being engaged; her ministry as a single missionary; increasing problems with theft in the Congo; Africa Inland Mission's characteristics as a mission

T4 (19 minutes). Memories of the evacuation from the Congo in 1960 with Dr. Carl Becker; ideology of the Simba rebels and their hatred of intellectuals; reaction of Congolese to the departure of the missionaries; the difficulty as a missionary of always giving out and not receiving; the many demands on a missionary's time; training provided for Christian women; guarding against moral lapses; socializing among Aim missionaries; missions as a life's work


The material in this collection was given to the BGC Archives by Margaret L. Clapper in January 1993.

Accession: 93-10
January 4, 2001
Robert Shuster

Accession: 93-10
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AudioTape file.

T1 - Reel, 3 ips, 65 minutes, one side only. Interview of Margaret Clapper by Paul Ericksen on January 19, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida.

T2 - Reel, 3 ips, 67 minutes, one side only. Continuation of the interview of Margaret Clapper by Paul Ericksen on January 19, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida.

T3 - Reel, 3 ips, 70 minutes, one side only. Conclusion of the interview of Margaret Clapper by Paul Ericksen on January 19, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida.

T4 - Reel, 3 ips, 20 minutes, one side only. Interview of Margaret Clapper by Paul Ericksen on January 22, 1993, at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida.

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