Billy Graham Center

Interviews of Erik Stanley Barnett - Collection 510

[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.]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)
Lists of Audio Tapes, in This Collection (Location Records)

    Audio Tapes

Audio recording and transcript for T1

Audio recording and transcript for T2

Audio recording and transcript for T3

Audio recording and transcript for T4

Collection 510
[June 18, 2011]
Barnett, Erik S.; 1910-2006
Interviews: 1995
4 audio recordings (.016 cubic feet)


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Brief Description:

Oral history interviews in which Barnett describes his childhood in Kenya as the son of missionary parents; his own work in that country as pastor, church planter, educator and administrator with Africa Inland Mission (AIM); the internal developments of AIM and of the Africa Inland Church in Kenya during the twentieth century.


Full name

Erik Stanley Barnett


December 3, 1910 in Kenya to missionary parents


January 22, 2006 in Minneola, Florida




Albert Edmond Barnett and Elma Elizabeth Nischer Barnett



Carl, Arthur Malcolm (twin), Paul Austin, Ruth Dorothy Collins, William John


Marital Status

Married to Emily Sterrett on December 22, 1933



Charles Edward (born 1935), Stanley (born 1937), Paul and John (born June 13, 1940), Elizabeth Susan (born October 18, 1944), Carolyn Emily (born April 30, 1948)


At age of 5, after conversation with his mother; made a public profession of faith at age 11 at Rift Valley Academy in Kenya during a revival meeting




Rift Valley Academy in Kenya



Westervelt Missionary Home in Arkansas, USA



Columbia Bible College, graduated with a two-year diploma



State University of South Carolina, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree




Served with his wife as missionary with Africa Inland Mission among the Kipsigi people in Litein, Kenya; the Tugen people in the Eldama Ravine, Kenya. Was primairly a church and school planter, preacher, pastor.



Furlough spent in Wheaton, Illinois, teaching at Wheaton Academy. The furlough was prolonged because of World War II.



Field director of AIM’s Kenya Field



Education secretary for the mission in Kenya (concurrent with being field director)


1972-ca. 1975

Pastor in three churches among the Marakwet people in Liter, Kenya


ca. 1975

Retired to the United States



Called back to teach at Pwani Bible Institute, Mombasa, Kenya


ca. 1987

Permanent retirement to the United States at AIM Media Retirement Center in Claremont, Florida

Other significant information



Grew up in Kenya

Scope and Content:

Erik Barnett was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on January 23 and 24, 1995, at the AIM Retirement Center in Claremont, Florida. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1910-1995.

T1 (93 minutes). Background of parents; their work among the Masai; the founding of Rift Valley Academy in 1909; growing up on the mission field; traveling for eight months in 1924 from Kenya to Captetown to Australia to the United States; attending school in the Westervelt Home in Arkansas; Josephine Hope Westervelt; attending Columbia Bible Institute and South Carolina State University; marriage and deputation work in the United States; returning to Africa as an AIM missionary in 1934; first furlough in 1940 and teaching at Wheaton Academy during World War II; returning to Kenya in 1946; parents’ experiences among the Masai in the Kilambe region; the moving the Masai off their land to give the land to British settlers; parents’ work with many different tribes; tribalism in the Kenya government; mother’s language skills; father’s education at Moody Bible Institute; personalities of his father and mother; devotions and family life; the influenza epidemic in Africa in 1918; description of a Masai village and kraal, a word for enclosure for cattle or other livestock; parents’ sanitary practices; characteristics of tribal life and its appeal to missionary children; antagonism between tribes; parents’ love for Africans; parents’ influence on their children; African attitudes toward homosexuality; Barnett family sayings; working with the Masai and settlers in the 1910s; developments in AIM’s work in east and central Africa in the middle of the 20th century; the inland philosophy of AIM; Peter Cameron Scott and Charles Hurlburt; the Akamba people; Bible translation into the languages of the Akamba and Masai peoples; John and Florence Stauffacher; death and burial of his parents; African Christian burial customs; Erik’s conversion and his experiences at 5, 11 and 16.

T2 (91 minutes) Continuation from T1; call to missionary service during a Keswick meeting and leaving for the mission field in 1934; comparison of missionary preparation in 1934 and 1995; expanding the educational program of AIM; turning over AIM schools to the Kenyan government in 1964; influence of Christian missions on Kenya; Independence Day in Kenya, December 12, 1963; Barnett’s work as AIM education secretary; the Mau Mau conflict; Christian opposition to female circumcision; the Africa Inland Mission/Church during the Mau Mau conflict; Rift Valley Academy during the Mau Mau conflict; Emily Barnett’s strength during the crisis and as a hostess at AIM’s Nairobi headquarters; female circumcision; opening of a home to protect girls; assignment to Litein; opposition in the mission to putting emphasis on education alongside of evangelism; expanding the curriculum of the Litein school and admitting girls to the schools; the development of many more AIM secondary and Bible schools in Kenya; the development of seminaries to train Christian leaders in Kenya instead of overseas; educating pastors for the rural churches; current strategy and policies of AIM; differences between missionary generations; W. Cameron Townsend and the beginning of Wycliffe Bible Translators; Belgium’s policy of not developing education in the Congo; national language vs. tribal languages; becoming a pastor; efforts starting in 1934 to make AIC self-supporting; turning over pastoral responsibilities to ordained African ministers; helping to draft a constitution for AIC; strength of the central church administration in relation to the individual congregations; dealing with polygamy in the church; replacing common law unions with Christian marriages; growth of the AIC; African churches’ problem with financial management

T3 (92 minutes) Advantages of being a second-generation missionary; Kenneth Downing; loving relationship between parents and children in the Barnett family; AIM as a faith mission (“full information, no solicitation”); AIM’s recruitment of missionaries in non-Western countries; the mission board of the AIC; obstacles for an African evangelist or missionary working outside his/her own tribe; characteristics of the AIC in Kenya (shortage of pastors; the imperative to witness among Kenyan Christians; emphasis on prayer); growth of the AIC in Kenya; evangelism in cities vs. rural areas; contrast between churches in Kenya and the United States; wealthy farmers who support the church; the changing role of missionaries in the AIC in Kenya over several decades; Wellington E. Mulwa as head (first president, later bishop) of the AIC; conflict with Barnett; agreement with AIC about AIM housing; problems with Mulwa’s leadership and his death in 1979; the high quality of his successor, Ezekiel Birech; developments in the AIC/AIM relationship; rise and decline in the number of missionaries in the Kenya field; Mulwa and Walter Guilding; Mulwa as a public speaker in the United States; debate in the mission over the authority of the AIM’s international council versus that of the field councils; the authority of AIM’s home and field councils during Richard Anderson’s directorship; Fred D. Beam; the need for a field council in the work of a mission to solve local problems; Ted Barnett as USA home director

T4 (89 minutes) Continuation of T3. Recruiting new missionaries for AIM; short-term missions; the decline of British and American spheres within the mission; development of the AIM international council; working with other Protestant missions in Kenya after independence; the difficulties of the Githumu church in Kenya between AIM, AIC, and the Kikuyu Independent Church; the African Brotherhood Church (ABC) independent church among the Akamba people of southeast Kenya; interpersonal relations between missionaries and the relative scarcity of problems; Elizabeth Cridland and Mary Beam; cooperation between AIM, SIM, and Wycliffe Bible Translators; the establishment of the Evangelical Fellowship of Africa; Bishop Leonard James Beecher of the Anglican church in Kenya; origins of the Kenyan Christian Council; the nature of the Anglican church in Kenya; Byang Kato; Africans as theologians and church leaders; Mr. Holland and extreme dispensationalism; questions of church order in Uganda and Kenya; the Association of Evangelicals of Africa and Madagascar (AEAM); Barnett’s part in the organization of the first international council; disputes over the number of missionaries going to either Kenya or the Congo; new areas of Kenya opened up to missionaries; changing number of missionaries in several AIM fields; Kenya as the dominant field of AIM; Charles Hurlburt and his leadership of AIM; difficult exploring safari of Hurlburt, A. E. Barnett, and John Stauffacher into the Eldrama Ravine area in the early part of the 20th century; more early expeditions; Raymond Stauffacher; Barnett’s administrative responsibilities; becoming Kenya field director; solving disputes on the Kenyan field council; support from his wife Emily Barnett and her varied responsibilities; his care for her in retirement; his in-laws, the Sterretts


The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Erik Barnett in January 1995.

Accession: 95-18 
June 18, 2011
Bob Shuster

Accession: 95-18
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.

Item# - Reel or cassette, speed, length, number of sides, contents (title of session, participants) according to the program, date.











Oral history of Erik S. Barnett by Paul Ericksen

January 23, 1995





Continuation of interview wtih Erik S. Barnett by Paul Ericksen

January 23, 1995





Oral history interview of Erik Barnett by Paul Ericksen

January 24, 1995





Continuation of interview of Erik Barnett by Paul Ericksen

January 24, 1995

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