Billy Graham Center
Collection 122 - Gladys Marie Fleckles. T1 Transcript.
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the first oral history interview
of Gladys Fleckles (CN 122, T1) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No
spoken words which were recorded are omitted. In a some cases, the transcribers
could not understand what was said, in which case they put "[unclear]" in the
place of the missing word or phrase. If the transcriber was not absolutely sure
of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted. Also, grunts, verbal
hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript
should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different
rhythm and even rule than written English.
dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence
of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcription was completed in December
2007 by Bob Shuster and Kirk Haywood.
Collection 122, T1. Interview of Gladys Fleckles
by John Svadbik, May 3, 1980.
SVADBIK: [audio cuts in] ...an interview with Gladys Fleckles by John Svadbik
for the Missionary Sources collection of Wheaton College. This interview took
place in the music conference room in the Library at Wheaton College, on Saturday,
May 3rd, 1980, at 9:30 A.M. Gladys is assistant to the director of
graduate admissions at Wheaton College, and she has also worked as secretary
for the Billy Graham Center. I’d like to find some information, first
of all, about your family background, and might start with maybe, what was your
father’s occupation? You might mention about your brothers or sisters,
their names, and....
FLECKLES: Okay, my father was and is a truck driver. He’s had...he’s
had various jobs in the course of my life, mostly driving for construction,
or road construction. He had his own business for awhile, he’s an excellent
mechanic, worked in filling stations for a while too, as a mechanic. I...I’m
the oldest of four, I have a brother, twenty-nine, who’s married, and
studying to be a lawyer, I have a brother, twenty-six, I think, [chuckles] who
lives at home and works, and I have a married sister, twenty-one, and that’s
the...and I have a mother.
SVADBIK: Okay, good. And, you grew up in the Chicago area. What suburb of Chicago,
or within Chicago?
FLECKLES: Yes, I was born in Chicago, and then, I don’t remember much
of the first three years of my life, [laughs] I know we...we lived with my aunt
and uncle, in Chicago for awhile, and then moved out to Elmhurst, which is about
twenty-five miles west of Chicago, and lived with my grandparents there for
awhile, and then, when I was in first grade, we moved into our own home in Elmhurst,
and I’ve not lived in that particular home all the time, but I’ve
lived in Elmhurst, grew up in Elmhurst.
SVADBIK: Okay. I understand you went to John Brown University, and that’s
SVADBIK: Why did you...if you’re living in Elmhurst, why did you choose
to go to Arkansas for college?
FLECKLES: Well, the media people like this. I got Youth For Christ magazine
(Campus Life magazine now), but back in the dark ages when I was in high
school, I subscribed to Campus Life Magazine, and their college issue
had an ad for John Brown University, and I really was impressed by the ad. And
when I decided that I would go to school, I started looking, and decided I would
just write to that school, and see what it was all about, and I got a catalogue,
and I was impressed by the catalogue, and what it said, and I ta...someone from
my church was there, and I called them up and asked them what it was like at
John Brown. I applied, I thought of a few other schools, but Wheaton was too
expensive, and could not give me a large enough scholarship. (I did come to
Wheaton and talk to somebody.) And then though it would be good to get out of
state anyway, so I didn’t really apply anywhere else, I liked the school,
I applied, I was accepted, I got a scholarship, and was put on a work study
program, and so, off I went. I never visited the school until I stepped on campus
SVADBIK: Did you have plans, what you wanted, what majors, and what career
FLECKLES: Uh-huh. Well, I had been...I did not go to school right out of high
school, I worked for three years, and at the time I knew that God had something
more in store for me than office work, although looking at my resume, you’d
probably wonder that. But I knew that I wanted to basically learn more about
the Bible, and I knew that whatever God had for me, it would be serving him
better if I knew Scripture. And I love to study, I’m that kind of person.
And I was just...knew that that was the next step to take. And I did not want
to stay at Sears the rest of my life, I knew that. So I majored in...I wanted
to major in youth work and counseling, but when I got there, I realized that
their CE [Christian Education] department was not what indicated by the catalog
[laughs], which is usually...a lot of times the case when you just read the
catalogue, but that didn’t bother me too much, because I realized that
the Biblical Studies was what I wanted, and that department was strong, and
so I majored in Biblical Studies. And my practical (they called it vocational
unit work) was in youth work, and...and that kind of thing, so, my major came
out Biblical Studies, and minor, Business.
SVADBIK: Were you involved in any kind of activities or clubs, or anything
FLECKLES: Yes, I...I helped start the Campus Crusade chapter at John Brown.
Now, John Brown was a Christian campus, but we started Crusade there for body
fellowship and building up the Christians who were there, so that we could go
out to the state universities in the area. And so I...I helped get that off
the ground, and...and [pauses] I was involved in the vocational studies, which
was the practical Christian work thing, so I was a YFC director, I worked with
Pioneer Girls. Trying to think of the other things that were connected with
that. [pauses] YFC, Pioneer Girls, that was pretty much what my vocational units
were. But on campus, I was...I was involved in the...in the choirs, and I was
a class officer my sophomore year, I was involved in the Foreign Missions Fellowship.
I was the quiz team captain for Bible quizzing, all four years. Let’s
see, I served on...the other...there was called a Christian Workers’ Fellowship,
which went out and visited, like, old people’s homes [retirement homes]
on Sundays, and I was involved in that. I was a dorm council member, I also
worked while I was in school. I had a very full college. So that gives you an
SVADBIK: Really got involved.
SVADBIK: Was there any teachers or classmates that made an impression on you,
that you remember?
FLECKLES: Well, I had most of my contacts, or friendships were developed through
the Christian service clubs that I was involved in, and those people, we grew
together, and we influenced each other in our Christian life, and in...in the
course of serving the Lord there on campus. Some of those people I’m still
in touch with after ten years. I’d say about five of them. They were the
ones...we were the ones...we started Campus Crusade, or we...we were in Foreign
Missions Fellowship together, or on the quiz teams together. Because those relationships
were constant all four years. The man who probably influenced me most in college
was my professor, and my boss and my friend. And we spen.t lots of times just
talking, and we weren’t just a student-professor relationship, or a boss-secretary
relationship, it was a friendship, we had a lot in common, and we thought alike
and read the same books. And he was go...interested in going overseas. He was
teaching in order to get his practical experience in before going on to get
a PhD and ultimately going overseas to teach, which he has done. So..so in the
course of those four years, he had a...he was a good role model for me.
SVADBIK: After you graduated from John Brown University, what did you do then?
FLECKLES: Well, I had worked for Sears-Roebuck before I went to John Brown
University, and I had a good relationship with that company, and they permitted
me to work summers and Christmas vacations. And so I knew that I was probably
going overseas for a period of time after college, but I needed to pay off a
small college debt, so I went back to work for Sears until I went overseas.
SVADBIK: Okay, and I understand you went to Japan. Why did you choose Japan?
FLECKLES: Well, I wouldn’t say that I chose Japan, I more chose the mission
I was going to go with, and they are a mission to Southeast Asia, and so, at
one point, I was going to Bangkok, and the next point I was going to the Philippines,
and ultimately, Japan was the place that I was designated to go.
SVADBIK: And this mission board is Overseas Missionary Fellowship?
SVADBIK: Why did you choose them out of all the mission boards?
FLECKLES: Well, [pauses] I don’t know that I.... I didn’t put them
all in a hat and choose one, I...I don’t really go about things that way.
But the mission representative had come on campus junior year of my college
years. And because my professor was so interested, and the man I worked with,
was interested in missions so much, the office was a clearing house for all
the mission representatives. And of course, everyone that came through would
say “Oh, Gladys, we could use you here, and we could use you there.”
So, you know, I was...it was not a lack of exposure. But I was...this one day,
the OMF representative came, and that was the mission that my friend was interested
in, the professor. And he didn’t push me to go with that mission or anything,
he didn’t push me at all, really. And he said, “Well, if you’re
thinking of missions, it might be really good to talk to a representative, and
since I know Jack personally, maybe I could set up a time that’s convenient
for you if you want to go, but don’t feel you have to.” And so I
went to talk to that mission representative of OMF. And I really was...I was
impressed by the warmth and the concern that the candidate secretary had for
me as a person. It was more like, “Let’s seek the Lord’s will
in your life, and see where it leads.” And not, you know, “We need
you, we must have you come with our mission,” kind of approach. And that
developed a relationship over the next year-and-a-half. And I really didn’t
see a need to go looking other places. I did write to Short Terms Abroad, and
see what they had. But I realized that wherever I went, I would most likely
have qualifications to go somewhere. So I stuck with the person that I had started
a relationship with, since I was pleased with that. The...this gets in the area
of discerning God’s will, but I did always want to go to South America
as a missionary, because I liked the Spanish culture. And that crossed my mind
at one point. So I contacted The Evangelical Alliance Mission, TEAM. I’d
already been accepted by OMF, it was the...it was the fall after college, and
I just thought, “Well, why don’t I try and see what they have available,”
since I’d been interested in...I never even thought of Southeast Asia,
but I thought of South America. And I thought, like I think a lot of Christians
do, that God would just close that door, and I’d know I was supposed to
go with OMF. Well, He didn’t. TEAM wanted me to go with them too. And
so then I had to make a choice, and made it based on my relationship with OMF
and their philosophy, and their goals, which were very similar to mine.
SVADBIK: It sounds like one of your professors that you spoke about at John
Brown University influenced you a little bit towards missions, but why did you
want to get into it?
FLECKLES: Why did I want to get into missions?
FLECKLES: Um, I think I was into missions [chuckles] without even realizing
it. I did not specifically receive a call as is spoken about a lot in missions
circles and by missionaries. I grew up in a strong, mission-minded church, and
so I was exposed to what God was doing in the world from the time I became a
Christian. Then, when I was in college, I took a missions course. It was a history
of missions. And during the course of that, I read biographies, and historical
things, and I realized that God had a world perspective, as far as his program
was concerned, for mankind, and so should I, and I more or less realized that
I needed to be involved in missions right where I was [audio cuts out due to
END OF TAPE