This is a complete and accurate transcript of the oral history interview of Joan Gordon Brain (CN 252, T7) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations, such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers should remember that this is a transcription of spoken English, which, of course, follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Christopher Easley and Paul Ericksen, and completed in August 1993.
Collection 252, Tape T7. Interview with Joan Gordon Brain by Paul A. Ericksen, October 26, 1987.
ERICKSEN: This is an oral history interview with Joan Brain by Paul Ericksen for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place in Downers Grove, Illinois, on Monday, October 26, 1987, at eight o'clock p.m. Well, Joan I just wanted to get some of your perspective on what happened at the beginning of this year. Bob has described all of the events, beginning with his...arr...his arrest and his trip to Lua...Lusaka, as well as some of the factors that contributed to...to that. Just as we were talking, I found myself wondering what you were feeling as this situation started to develop. What...what was going through your mind? Could you talk about that?
BRAIN: Well, it's [pauses]...I don't know. It's very very difficult to explain how I felt [laughs], because I'm sure that...that the Lord kept me from really knowing or understanding perhaps just what...what was going on. And, when...when the two doctors sort of decided, you know, what I should do, and got me rolling in the right direction there, and went in to make phone calls and things like that into Lusaka to let them know what was going on, I...I felt rather detached almost from the whole thing. And in spite of the uncertainty, and really not knowing for sure...I mean, they said they were going to Lusaka, but how do you know? I never had any time of fear or doubting. I...I don't even know as I actually even questioned. I...I think perhaps I may have been bewildered, and wondering, "Well, why?" And then I...and yet again I...I think I felt sort of like Bob did at the first. It was all going to work out, you know, and...and this too would pass sort of thing. And when we got back later on that afternoon, and of course heard the first radio call-up, I guess, that evening.... And I guess they wouldn't have known anything. I guess it was waiting until the next morning, so it was still sort of [sighs] a time of not knowing whether or not he had arrived or anything. I don't remember even where I ate that night 'cause everybody supported me. I...I think this, of course, makes the whole difference. I mean, everybody just rallied around. And Zambians, of course, came to the door by...in the droves. I started to write them down. That very first day there were over twenty-seven that came, you know, just within a short period of time. And, of course, at the time we had no idea that some of these very ones were the ones that had made it possible for our exodus [laughs]. Fortunately, we did not know which ones. Otherwise, you know, you'd have that very sort of hard, hard feeling. Then [voice in background calling for Bob] that evening, was of course, the first time that I was alone there. And it was interesting. One of the women that we found out later was implicated in helping to pay the lawyer fees for this Mr. Cavita, and yet who had been what we thought a very staunch and loyal friend, one that I had worked with in the women's group work and with children's work, and we'd just been hand in glove in many many things, she wanted to stay with me that night. And I said, "No," I said, "I'm perfectly fine." I said, "I...there's no reason why I just can't be...." I said, 'cause she had a family of, oh, six, seven kids that were still at home. So I said, "No, you...you just...you just go home. I'll be just fine." Well, that night.... Generally if I'm upset, I like to read Isaiah 40, and so I read Isaiah 40. And then I thought, "Well, why start with...stop with Isaiah 40? I'll go on to Isaiah 41." I had nobody to stop me [laughs]. So I began reading in Isaiah 41, and until I came to verse 20. And it said that, "...men may see and know, may once for all give heed and understand that the Lord himself has done this." I turned out the light, rolled over and went to sleep [laughs], and that was that. And that verse came back to me time and time and time again and was the one that just upheld me. I don't remember, really, any time where got I really emotionally upset. A wee bit, but not, you know, sort of like going to pieces. I never...I just never had that. Like I say, everybody was just so very supportive. I had every meal out, and different ones would come to, you know...to see what they could do. I think one of the rather interesting things, this man from our mission, Roger Schultz [?] and his wife were out there doing these videotapings of all of the missionaries, and he had this van loaded with equipment. His video equip-ment and all of the tapes and...and things like this. And he had come into Luampa over that bridge where we have military personnel that stop you and sometimes they go through your car, or ask for different things. And he had been over this twice and had never even been stopped, whether he'd just smile his way through or what. They never even asked to look into this vehicle. And it even had a...it had a Botswanian registration. It wasn't even Zambian. And they never even thought about it. He was due to leave on the Saturday. See, Bob was picked up on Thursday. He was due to leave on the Saturday. And so, since he was going right into Lusaka he said, well, he'd take me in. Well, the Springles, they said, "No. We're taking you in. We want to go. We want to be with you for a few days and we want to see just what's going on. So they said, "No, you...you'll go in with us and just let Roger go." So we did. And we went in on a Sunday, 'cause I was supposed to be there Monday morning. So as we approached the bridge and we handed over our ID cards, they had been waiting for me [laughs]. Because Bob said later that when they came to the bridge before, and...and then the immigration told them that I would be coming in a few days, and that they were.... I don't know what they told them to do, because they really gave me a hard time. We stopped and they took our ID cards and made us take everything out of the car. And we...they...all of the suitcases and things. And so things that belonged to Milan and Beth, well, they just opened and sort of shuffled through. Oh they don't touch them but made them, you know, just shuffle through them. That was fine. Just shut it up. The first thing that they saw was Bob's camera case, and they wanted to know what we had such a sophisticated camera for [imitates suspicious tone of guard]. You know, he's just trying to show how big he was and all. But we found the papers on it and everything, so, I mean, he didn't have any...anything more to say about that. [There] was one thing we had, there was a big box full of all of our slides. Never even saw it. He went around every other thing and had me open it and he never...I don't know whether the Lord blinded him or not. I think if they had ever seen all those slides I don't know what they would have done or what they would have even thought, you know, what we were taking all these pictures for. But ten years of pictures [laughs] all in one box. So, they got to my suitcases, and I had to take everything out piece by piece by piece, everything. And then we put it all back in again, and then he let us go. We were there, I don't know, maybe nearly two hours while we went through all this. It was real funny in one way because a tru...a bus stopped and they had about fifteen people that they were checking through too, so all these people were lined up on the road, and they were all watching this [laughs], my taking everything out piece by piece by piece. And, of course, it was hot, and one of the suitcases was full of cold...things for the cold, our...our winter jackets and things because we thought, "Well, since we're going to be deported we'll be going to England," and they were, of course, having the worst cold spell that they'd had in a hundred years, so it looked rather ridiculous to be having this kind of clothing. But anyway we got through and they let...and...and we...and we went on our way. But we couldn't help but marvel at the Lord's goodness in not allowing me to be with Roger. If they had ever done that when we were with him, and they would have seen what was in that truck, I don't know what ever would have happened to Roger. He probably would have been in jail with Bob [laughs]. But it didn't work out that way. I went in town, of course, on the...on Sunday and then was into...into Lusaka for the rest of the time. They allowed me to go into the prison. Once a day I could go, and had about ten minutes to see him. Not alone, usually, I mean [pauses].... When I...when I arrived, the...the guards would immediately put Bob's name on the...on the prisoner list, and the next group of prisoners that came out to the visiting area, they would always have him included. They never made me wait after the first time. And they were very, very good to me. And each day I would bring food and I'd take it to the door first, and they would collect all these things, and they examined everything. Bread they would squeeze to make sure that there wasn't anything inside. But, then we...I was getting some of these little papers, or different things that people had given to me, or verses that were very special. And I made up...would write it on a little piece of paper or something, and then I would put it inside the...the bag. Well, the first time, I...they brought me right into the courtyard with all of the food there, and they saw these little papers, so I explained what they were. "Oh, that's fine. No problem." And...and then one other time when I had put some things into the bag, when the guard came to get me with the...and Bob there with...as one of the prisoners, when we were leaving, he took that...the little papers and he put them in Bob's pocket to make sure that he got them. But, I mean, it was just these little touches here and there that...that...you know, that meant so much. And the...of course, the mission there, all of the people were just so supportive. And they'd come over to the house and they'd have prayer, and...and, of course, there were the regular prayer meetings. People calling. You have no idea how many people called from the States. And one pastor, I don't know if Bob mentioned this or not, but one pastor every Sunday would call me at ten o'clock, which was five o'clock our time, but ten o'clock there in...in New England, and...and he'd pray with me over the telephone all those miles away. It was a very, very precious experience. Those were the things that would choke you up more than, you know, maybe the circumstances, because once we knew that they weren't abusing him or ever, you know, giving him a hard time, my fears were...were relieved even though other people perhaps were, you know, alarmed, like our kids. Well, they weren't too sure what might just happen. But I tried to reassure them. But the phone calls and letters that began to...to come in and then some would call the international office, and we'd...we heard about those later. And I don't...I have...I feel it's a...the experience to me was just like riding on the crest of a wave. I think that's how...how I...how I felt was up and down, and up and down, but never under. And the whole time, those whole twenty-seven, days you'd get some when there was...oh, it just looked like things would break, and then the next day we'd be back to square one or even behind it [laughs]. It was...it was just unbelievable. The American embassy, one time they put in three different...well, they put in the...the same request three different times. "Well, we never got it." And they'd do it again. "Well, we didn't get it." And then the..then the third time...but they still didn't do anything about it. But they...they were treating them the same way, and it wasn't just the mission officials. I think by then they knew that it was...it was all [intermittent electronic interference] so...such a fabricated thing that I think they were afraid to perhaps own up. Well, not afraid but ashamed maybe. And... but then, towards the...towards the end when they just decided that there was really no...no point in his staying there in the...in the prison. He had agreed to. I guess he told you that, that he had agreed to stay on. But they felt that really they were getting absolutely nowhere. And so we came home.
ERICKSEN: What were your impressions of the prison?
BRAIN: [laughs] Oh, it was gross! But, you know, there again, it was really interesting. I didn't see it in that light. I had those ten minutes, and I was going to make the most of them. And my...my part was to feed him as much information as I could of what was going on so that he would know that people were...were...were working for him, and what they were trying to do. And so any kind of good news that I could bring him.... And I was like I was on a high. You have no idea. It was absolutely ridiculous. But...and then after I would see him, I was just like this all the...all the time until about two o'clock in the afternoon when I finally kind of calmed down a little bit. But it...I...you know, that was the time, it was just built up to...to feed him for ten minutes every bit of information that...that I could get to him. And one time when I came, I...all the visitors were gone. I don't know what happened, or whether they [pauses] all came early or what. But when I got there, there wasn't a single visitor. So what they did, they called Bob out and they allowed us to sit in the...in the office, with a guard, of course. There's always a guard present. Well, I had a piece of paper with all of these things on it that I wanted to be sure to remember to tell him. There had been various phone calls, and different things, so I wanted to be sure that he got all of this. So we came in...into the room there and they...and I had my paper there and I said...I said to the guard, "I don't think I can get through this in ten minutes." Well, he just chuckled. I think we were there about twenty [laughs]. But this is what the...that's the way they were. They were so good. And I got through all of...all of this. And then I had a list of [pauses]...a list of things, I guess, that I wanted [pauses] knowledge from him so that I could...I could pass on. And the guard asked to...you know, to see and...and, I mean, I just showed him, you know, the paper, and he just passed it right back. I mean, they...I suppose just for precautions. But...but this happened on two or three occasions, when we...when we were able to...you know, to be there in the office and to...and to talk. And the days, I wasn't ever supposed to see him ever on a Saturday or Sunday. They didn't have any visitor hours. I saw him every Saturday and every Sunday but one. Once at the...at the door, but then other times they just let me in. And they'd go and call him and [pauses], I mean, they just broke rules right and left [laughs]. And it was a...it was really a very interesting experience. Granted, I didn't see the inside of...you know, of the prison. I mean, this learning about it afterwards, you know, and the filth and all. When...and...and to...I...I...they...making them take their shoes off, I suppose, just to demean them more. And I suppose if they had shoes on, maybe people could perhaps hand them stuff that they could slip in there. I suppose there's a reason for it. But I never looked at it that way, or even the...that wire grid in between the...you know, the prisoners and the...and the others. Like I said, I...I had my ten minutes and I was just going to use it to the full [laughs]. But, [pauses] I think the Lord just...just gave the grace or the blindness or what, I don't know. I just... just didn't see that as...as something to bother me.
ERICKSEN: How did he look, I mean, when you went in?
BRAIN: Most of the time he looked fine. Well, this one time when I went in there, I...I was a little...I was a little worried 'cause I...I saw this beard was very straggly. I thought my word, is he just, you know, sort of letting himself go or what? So I asked him. I said...I said, "You haven't shaved!" "What, I'm growing a beard!" And he...and he was perfectly...you know, perfectly fine. And then after that, well, he'd trim it a little bit, you know, so it...it didn't look quite so scruffy. But, since I had been after him for years to grow one, and so, I guess, he decided, "Well, what better time than this," and so he...he decided to...to grow it. But at the first...I must admit the first time I...I saw it getting like that I...I wondered, you know. He would have some downs [low spirits] once in a while, but it wasn't...[pauses] to me I...I knew there was more to the man than...you know, than...than that. And if I know that one of them, they thought, "Oh, you know, maybe he's...he's wearing down." I said, "Don't be foolish." I mean, he...you know, he's stronger than...stronger than that. I mean, I didn't worry about his breaking under the...under the strain. And...and then to hear of the...you know, the things that he was able to do while he was in there, you know, and talking with those others, he was fine. And like I say, there were days when he was a little bit low, but that...I mean, [rustling paper in background] you get that even under normal circumstances [laughs]. So it never [pauses] just, you know, once...once or twice like that. But then the very next time that, you know, I'd see him he'd be perfectly bright, and...you know, with...and with no [pauses]... not minding. And the fact that we could feed him and he was able to eat properly, I think probably was a...was a help. And his...his medicine. (This was funny). Every Sunday I would bring him his anti-malarials. And we had one kind one week. And when I ran out of that particular kind we had to use another, and so there was a discrepancy in the number of pills. They weren't the same each time. So I came and I explained to the...to the guard, because those were the days that I wouldn't ordinarily see him. But then he took the pills to him, and then he allowed him to come to the gate and talk to me. And then one day, one Sunday, I had forgotten them, and the guard asked me where his pills were [laughs]. So they kept kind of like a little check on him, too. And knowing this, and the fact that...you know, that they were helping him and letting all of his food and things go through, it was...it was an assurance to me. And...and then daily the Lord gave Scripture passages, and I could go on and on and on of some of the verses. But like I say, [pounds] this particular one in Isaiah 41:20 was the one that really has stood out among all the...the Lord did it. Why? We still don't know.
ERICKSEN: When did you let the kids know? Your...your children.
BRAIN: Actually, the mission let them know. I...the international office called the American office, and the American office called the children, and then they called us. I think they knew that we were...that I was in town by then. We did not let them know right away simply because we thought that it might be a very temporary thing and we would be out, and if that were the case, well then there was no sense. And then not really knowing very much it was [pauses]..."Well, what they don't know is not going to hurt them," sort of thing. And of course, we had no idea that the...that the international office had forwarded the information either at that point, because I don't think they did it right at the first. But I believe it was that Monday night, the first Monday that I was in there, I think, that...that...that our son called. And then they each...someone called once a week. And then I called them just once and that was on our oldest daughter's birthday. And...and then they took turns after that. One a week would...would telephone, and then they'd let everybody else know what...what was going on. So actually the mission let them know.
ERICKSEN: You were describing before that first...that first night back in Luampa and if you had known [pauses] that some of the people who came through in the course of a day were involved, you might have had bad feelings. How...in what's...now that you know, how do you feel as you look back?
BRAIN: I felt so sorry for them. I think I have shed more tears over them [pauses] than...you know, than I ever shed for ourselves. I...it...it...it hurts so, to think that...that people calling themselves Christians could be so two-faced. And obviously the Lord's gonna have to deal with them one day if there's no repentance. And as far as we know, to do...to up to this day there's been none. And [pauses] I...I think we just...just feel so sorry. Many of the verses, you know, through the Psalms and through Isaiah, it speaks time and time again of...of people be...[pauses] when the Lord would [pauses] pay them back as it were for...for refusing to accept Him or His...or His ways, or for what they do to His servants. And...and those are the times that I've cried. Not for us. I mean, we did no wrong. And...and as I say, since the Lord Himself gave us this...you know, this verse that He was the one that had done it, and had brought us out and He had wanted us out, well, that...that...that's fine. He must have something else. So that part of it was sort of subtle, as far as I was concerned. But it hurts, really to think of these...these people and...and what's liable to happened to them or just the problems that they're... they're liable to...to find be...because of...of what they've done, and the rejecting of...of the Lord's...of the Word of the Lord, and not wanting to obey what the Scripture has said, and...and not wanting to know the...the teaching fr...there at the...at the Bible school. You see, the people were...were being taught and then these were in turn teaching and preaching these things and [pauses] it would uncover what they were doing and they wouldn't be able to carry on in this...in this way. And [pauses] I just feel so sorry for them. I really do. I...I know that some of the missionaries that stayed on for a while and they've left now and they're...they're back up here in Canada, some of them, they have some real hard feelings about some of them. I mean, they were there when we were taken and then afterwards to find out that some of these people were very...you know, were responsible, people that they had worked with and it really built up an awful wall. And then not knowing, you see people or they come and you have no idea 'cause they...they are so two-faced, and they can put on one show in front of you and turn around and say exactly something else to some...you know, to someone else. And they found it very, very hard, especially as they got to know more and more different ones who had...who had been in on...in on our deport.... The people all knew, you know. They all knew what was going to happen, but nobody would say anything.
ERICKSEN: So the whole church....? When you say "all the people" I'm not sure....
BRAIN: Yeah. The people...the...in the...in the area there of the village. I presume the...a lot of the...a lot of the church members and...and they...they knew that something was coming. And maybe they wouldn't know the exact date, but they knew that...that something was coming. But....
ERICKSEN: Did they know it was specifically you deportation, or....?
BRAIN: I don't know, because we heard later that one of them...a pastor for example... one of the pastors out in one of the villages, he was one of our graduates, when he found out, you know, that Bob was deported he was horrified. And I don't really know as he expected it to go that far. I don't know what he thought. But they'll just get on the bandwagon, you know, and it's...it's much easier to...to go with the...you know, with the most forceful crowd 'cause [pauses] you don't have to buck anything. Easy way out. Well, that's fine. And then, of course, sometimes they find that that wasn't the easy way out after all. So it's hard to know. And even when I went back for just one day, (I was there for one day; we stopped over one night and came back with a...with a...our [pauses] head...head man there from...from Lusaka), I didn't know then either. And I don't think anybody else did either, who [pauses]...who was actually part of this...of this group that were...that had been instrumental in...in the deportation. So that I was saved all that. I mean, I was spared all that. It was only afterwards that we heard and then found out that even our head teacher, one of the...the teachers there was number one traitor. And they say that he...Bob probably told you, that he's just living in the woods like a crazy man [pauses] now.
ERICKSEN: Now how was it that in...I don't know what size.... What size town is Luampa?
BRAIN: Well, Luampa is a mission station. And then, of course, the villages around. I...I honestly don't know how many there would be, but....
ERICKSEN: Well, anyway.
BRAIN: ...a good thousand I would say at least, I should think. A fairly good group.
ERICKSEN: How is it that events in a...in a rural area [pauses] can result in somebody being thrown out of the country by a...I mean, a top government agency, the immigration department? Was this....?
BRAIN: Lies. They...they started way back in '84 building up a case. Even while we were on furlough in '83, we were informed by our head teacher, that he had...had heard that the same Mr. Cavita had gone into the immigration in Lusaka, and was attempting to get a...some kind of a...a statement or something that would not allow us to re-enter. And we wrote and told our...our head office this in Lusaka and they checked it out. They could find nothing, but that doesn't mean anything. But we didn't know when we got to the boarder whether or not, you know, we would be persona no grata [laughs] when we got there. But there wasn't anything and we came on. So we know even then that things were fermenting. And then in '84 they started all sorts of well, half-truths, or a statement and then never checking it out. I mean, nobody ever checked out anything. They did...the immigration did come to the mission while we were on furlough, and...and they wanted to check with...with Beth Springle, you know, about different students and things, and also questioned her to why she had gone down to South Africa. I mean, what they're always trying to do is pin a spy rap on you. That's...that's what they're after. And...but she could explain, you know, where...where she...where she had gone and why, and there were...there wasn't any problem. But during that time they were accusing [pauses] not necessarily her, but then again it would have to be because she was the acting principal and one other teacher there, another female, that they...we were training guerrillas to go back to Angola. Now you see this sort of thing, they...somebody would make a...make a so-called innocent statement, saying, "Ah, well, they're probably, you know, just training guerrillas to go back." Well, that little word would go and it would get into the file like that. "They are training guerrillas," this sort of thing. And then there's all of this hatred and jealousy over the refugees and so they got that worked up so that the...these refugees had to...had to leave. And the permanent secretary who was in charge of this and had...you know, had got them out, she was amazed when she found that the school was still running, because she had been informed that all of our students were refugee students from this camp, and she couldn't understand why then was this school was still going on. Well, they said, "That was only a part of them." But you see that sort of thing doesn't get back into the file. What's in the file is that all of the students are refugee students. This sort of thing. So it just builds up, up, up, and nobody checks things out. Now even after she knew this, they never came out to...you know, to check and to...and to see. And so that with...coupled with the fact that the...since this is all based on...on tribalism, the member of parliament for our area is from that same tribe, and in order to try and curry favor with the [pauses]...with the...the head man of the...of the...of our provence there, who was a member of the central committee. We don't know what they did, because we feel that he was the one that actually put the finishing touches on. But for what reason we have no idea. When he came to visit Luampa, Bob set him up over there with electricity every night, had his...he took his generator over, set him up lights, he had electricity every night. We gave him most of his food, all of his vegetables, ice cubes, lemons, and different things like this that people would come and collect, you know, to go and to...and do that. And then...and yet we...we have heard that he [pauses] was most likely the one that [pauses]... because it had to be somebody that was high up that was able to...to do it. The other fellow, the member of parliament, is not...he wasn't quite that high up to be able to...I mean, he could get his finger in there, but I don't think that he would have had enough power to be able to...to do it, although more than likely was involved. So that's...just lies, half lies, and the fact that we're sure that several of the students that were there were just stooges, out to...and then they can carry back any kind of a report, and who...who would know. You wouldn't even know that that's what they were there to do. So you don't know what they would have...would have gone back and reported. So, it's rather a [laughs]...a very difficult thing. And, you know, when you...you think of those that work right along with us and have been there, and have been there and have enjoyed the study of the Word of God, and have...have studied there three years going through the Word of God, and yet all the time, working with...in a dual relationship like this, it's...it's hard to understand. And, you know, when you...and you think of what's coming to them, that really hurts 'cause they're bound to get some kind of...of judgement for...for what they've done, not just to us, but, I mean, to the...to the work as a whole, and to...and to the Christian witness.
ERICKSEN: Well, somber note to end on. [Brain laughs] Thank you very much.
BRAIN: Well, the somber note, but yet, you know, go back to that other verse. It's the hand of the Lord has done this, and we're...we're back on a...with a sovereign Lord, and that's the way it'll...it'll end up the way he wants it. So, that's it.
ERICKSEN: Okay, thanks.
BRAIN: You're welcome.
END OF TAPE