Billy Graham Center

Papers of Armin Richard Gesswein - Collection 517

[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. ]

Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


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

List of Audio Tapes and Photographs in This Collection (Location Record)
    Audio Tapes

Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Transcript 3

Collection 517

[May 30, 2006]

Gesswein, Armin Richard; 1907-2001

Papers; 1995-1998

Audio tapes, photograph (0.06 cubic feet)

Brief Description: Papers and oral history interview with Rev. Gesswein in which he discusses his childhood as the son of a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor, the characteristics of that denomination, his education, his conversion, the influence of Paul Rader upon him, his work at Concordia Seminary, his work with Walter Maier, his first pastorate and first experience of revival, his involvement in revival in Norway 1937-1938, friendship with Billy Graham, Charles Fuller, and J. Edwin Orr, discussion of importance of revival and prayer in the church.

Restrictions: None


Full name

Armin Richard Gesswein


November 28, 1907, Corning, Missouri on Thanksgiving Day


March 10, 2001, San Juan Capistrano ,California




Theodore and Lydia (Hilgendorf) Gesswein



Ada (older sister), Ilma (younger sister, died at 4 years), younger brothers Herbert, Paul (missionary to Dutch New Guinea) and Myrta (youngest sister)


Marital Status

Married Reidun Gabrielsen, August 6, 1938 in Norway



Armin Richard, Jr. “Dick” Gesswein, Sonja R. (Gesswein) Goodson, Carol Joy (Gesswein) Dye


As a young man


August 2, 1931, in St. John’s Lutheran Church, LaPorte, Indiana



ca. 1920-1924

Concordia Collegiate Institute, Bronxville, New York (a Lutheran high school and junior college)


ca. 1926

Graduated from Concordia College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin



Graduated from Concordia Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri




Pastored Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Long Island, New York


1932- ca, 1935

Pastored Garden City Park Church, Long Island, New York



Ministered in Norway’s spiritual revival (1-1/2 years)


Ca. 1938-ca. 1955

Conducted evangelistic crusades



Founded the Revival Prayer Fellowship



On faculty of Gordon College and Divinity School



Moved to Pasadena, California and begins to work for Charles Fuller



Participated in several Billy Graham Crusades: Los Angeles, 1949 & 1963 (associated evangelist); New York, 1957 (associated evangelist in charge of international prayer ministry); Anaheim, 1969 (associated evangelist)



Director of Commission on the Spiritual Life of the National Association of Evangelicals



Revival editor of Christian Life magazine

Other significant information



Armin was a Missouri-Synod Lutheran pastor and later was associated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church



Authored Is Revival the Normal?



Authored How to Overcome Discouragement

Scope and Content

Armin Richard Gesswein was interviewed by Robert D. Shuster on April 19, 1995 and April 24, 1998, at Gesswein’s home in San Juan Capistrano, California. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1907-1997.

T1 (80 minutes). Childhood, affect of sister’s death, description of his father (a Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod pastor), his father’s death, gifts (writer, Bible teacher, conversationalist), and interaction with non-Lutheran pastors, attitudes of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod to other denominations, mother’s influence on him and others, parents’ encouragement in his ministry, growing up poor, childhood activities, realization of the presence of God, love of playing baseball and meeting Babe Ruth, attends Concordia Collegiate Institute in Bronxville, New York, conversion, interest in sermons of F. W. Walther (Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther, founding father of the Lutheran Missouri Synod), Synod’s emphasis on doctrinal and objective orientation rather than experience orientation and subjective in hymns and preaching (revivalistic and experience oriented frowned upon), questions his conversion, influence of Paul Rader after hearing him on radio, receives assurance of salvation and call to preach, reaction of parent, education at Concordia Theological Seminary, Dr. Walter A. Maier (first speaker on the Lutheran Hour radio program), Maier’s character and preaching style, Armin’s call as missionary-at-large for the Lutheran Church, he’s labeled as one who “mingled with others” (called “Unionism”) and was out of graces with the Lutheran Church for awhile, sings in the Lutheran Hour choir, strengths and weaknesses of seminary training.

T2 (90 minutes). Ordination, starts Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Long Island, New York, his strengths and weaknesses, call to service, importance of listening to the scripture only, Lutherans against “free praying,” holds a prayer meetings for the first time which later grows numerically, revival breaks out, called to revival, fellowship with other Christians, Lutheran Synod asks him to leave the Synod and church because of his contact with other Christians, becomes pastor of Garden City Park Church, father’s reaction to him leaving the Synod, importance of the church congregation, friendship with Billy Graham, importance of follow-up, Dawson Trotman, revivals in Norway, describes first meeting he attended in Bergen, repentance, prays for full revival renewal in his life and ministry, importance of revival and prayer in the church, impact of revival on communities in Norway, important of unity of Christians, conducts a revival in Finsnes, Norway, where he met his future wife, returns to the USA and holds evangelistic meetings, teaches at Gordon College and Divinity School, courses taught, meets and works for Charles Fuller, Fullers vision for a training school for evangelists, Dr. Harold Ockenga, helps start a college of prayer, early beginnings of what later would be know as Revival Prayer Fellowship, holds revival meetings in Los Angeles, meetings with pastors in Los Angeles area, conducts city-wide evangelistic meetings for fifteen years, example of a method of personal evangelism, first meeting with Billy Graham, definition of revival, memories of J. Edwin Orr.

T3 (10 minutes). Description of J. Edwin Orr, living the Christian life by faith, Gesswein closes in prayer.


The materials in this collection were given to the Archives of the Billy Graham Center by Armin Richard Gesswein in April 1995 and April 1998.

Accession: 95-70, 98-20

May 30, 2006

Wayne D. Weber


Accession: 95-70, 98-20

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.











80 min


Interview with Armin R. Gesswein by Robert D. Shuster

April 19, 1995




90 min


Interview with Armin R. Gesswein by Robert D. Shuster. Continued on tape T3

April 24, 1998




10 min


Continuation of interview with Armin R. Gesswein by Robert D. Shuster

April 24, 1998


Accession: 98-20

Type of material: Photographs

The following items are located in the PHOTO FILE; request by folder title (in bold) at the beginning of each entry below.

GESSWEIN, ARMIN RICHARD. Photograph of Gesswein and Billy Graham. 1 color, October 1997.

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