This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett (CN 287, T8) 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. Foreign terms are not commonly understood appear in italics. Place names in non-Western alphabets are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. For example, Peking may be used instead of Beijing, because that is how the interviewee pronounced it. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. The transcribers have not attempted to phonetically replicate English dialects but have instead entered the standard English word the speaker was expressing. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
. . . Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of though within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
. . . . Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of a incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcription was made by Wayne D. Weber in November 1997.
Collection 287, T8. Interview of Margaret Rice Elliott Crossett by Paul A. Ericksen, May 30, 1986.
ERICKSEN: We were just talking about how the school started. What year did you arrive at the school?
CROSSETT: About '62 or '3. We went out in '61. Then we were in Tainan for two-and-a-half years. Then we . . . then we went to the school. So it would be about '63, I guess.
ERICKSEN: What stage of development was it at when you arrived?
CROSSETT: It was about primary level. And then while we were there they raised it to high school level. And now it's college level.
ERICKSEN: How [pauses] . . . how . . . how would you say the students were prepared when they arrived [pauses] to do the course work?
CROSSETT: Well, it was very hard to get them to think independently. They could memorize, but to try to figure out a problem [Ericksen clears throat] [unclear] . . . try to figure out . . . I remember I asked . . . I would teach a lesson [pauses] and I'd have a student read a passage of Scripture. And I'd say, "Now you explain that to me. What does it mean?" "I don't know. I don't know what it means." And it was very difficult to get them to think through what they were reading. They could read all the characters, but to think what they were reading, it was difficult to get them to think it through.
ERICKSEN: Did you make any headway in the course of the time you were there as far as that goes?
CROSSETT: I hope I did. [laughs] I think they learned something. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Well, I . . . I . . . I guess I'm thinking in terms of the . . . the whole time that you were there from '63 until your retirement, did you see a change in [pauses] . . .
CROSSETT: Oh, yeah. They were . . . they were developing, yeah.
ERICKSEN: . . . the students learning to . . . .
CROSSETT: Yeah, they were beginning to learn how . . . . It was difficult and I taught Christian education and I was teaching them how to run a Sunday school. And I went down to a church, a tribal church. Then . . . who was pastored by one of my former students. [pauses] And the Sunday school was all one great big mass. They had the kindergarten teachers up there trying to teach them. One of them would get up and tell a story and the other would have switch in the back and if the kids didn't [laughs] pay attention she'd switch them. I said, "Is that the way to run a [ laughs] Sunday school." The pastor wasn't paying any attention. [laughs] I said, "After all I taught you and then you teach them the Sunday school like that." But, it was very difficult to get them to apply what they learned in school. Finally some of the gir . . . they took on girls after awhile. When we first went there, there were only boys in the school. Then they took in girls. And one of the girls really learned something [laughs] in the . . . in the children's courses. And she went up to a church in the mountains and [pauses] she just said she had a . . . such fun remodeling her Sunday school and teaching them what she'd learned. So [pauses] . . . [laughs] but it was difficult to get them to apply what they learned.
ERICKSEN: How did Chinese Christians and the tribal Christians get along?
CROSSETT: Well, the . . . when we were leaving the Chinese Christians were really getting interested in . . . in the school, in the tribal Christians. They didn't pay much attention to them at first. But they were beginning to get interested in helping the tribal Christians, and [pauses] helping them develop.
ERICKSEN: Were there any Chinese on the staff?
CROSSETT: Oh, yes. All of . . . practically all the staff were Chinese. Yeah, they were . . . they were excellent.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Can you tell me what a typical tribal church service was like?
CROSSETT: Well, the people thronged into the church. The churches were full when came to church. And they'd sing, and have prayer, and [pauses] have a preacher [pauses] and preach a sermon. And [pauses] if we went . . . once we went when the sermon was half over. We were late it getting there. They immediately stopped [intermittent rustling noise] the service, made Vincent get up and preach. [laughs] But it was . . . it was informal. They sat on benches that were . . . usually just had . . . [pauses] they had wood [unclear] into the ground and then a be . . . a plank across and that was their benches. And . . . but their . . . every . . . every tribal church I went into was always packed with people standing.
ERICKSEN: How big . . . what size room were they meeting in?
CROSSETT: Well, I suppose it would hold about fifty or sixty people. [pauses] It was just a very crude building.
ERICKSEN: Did it look like the inside of what we would think a church would look like?
CROSSETT: Well, it would [pauses] have a crude pulpit and then benches.
ERICKSEN: Was there an aisle?
ERICKSEN: How . . . how long would a service be?
CROSSETT: Maybe an hour-and-a-half, two hours. I don't know. I've forgotten. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: And would the children be in the service at the same time and then . . . ?
CROSSETT: They'd be running in and out, in and out, yeah. It was . . . it was very informal.
ERICKSEN: And when would Sunday school happen?
CROSSETT: Depended on the . . . the pastor and about . . . usually it would be after church. They had small churches and they had big churches. I know every year they'd have a Yu Shan school day in the churches. And then the faculty would be split up all those Sundays to go to these various churches to speak. And they asked me one Sunday . . . one time . . . "Which . . . what kind of church do you want to go to." I said, "The smallest you can find." And they sent me to the biggest church on the island. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: And how big was that?
CROSSETT: Oh, I suppose it held about a thousand. And . . . .
ERICKSEN: So this was a tribal church?
CROSSETT: Tribal church, yeah. It was a big church. And they made me speak there. [laughs] But they were [pauses] . . . that is one of the leading churches now. They're having a big charismatic movement over the island among the tribes now. And that church has taken the leadership. And they have what they call their pray . . . prayer mountains. And they . . . the people were taught to just go up in the mountains and . . . and pray and [pauses] they . . . that church is just packed every Sunday. They say that a thousand people or more every Sunday and then they have branch churches out. It's just spreading. It's wonderful what the Lord is doing among the tribes [pauses] today. In Taiwan that church has taken the leadership.
ERICKSEN: Now did you . . . what sort [pauses] of charismatic [pauses] practices were going on when you were there?
CROSSETT: Well, in the churches we went to there wasn't much. But in the same village there would be a charismatic church where they were shouters. [laughs] And [pauses] it's that element, I think, that is somewhat spread through all the churches now. But not . . . not as much . . . not as radical, I think, as they were.
ERICKSEN: The shouting?
CROSSETT: I think from what I've heard that they have shouting too, but it's . . . .
ERICKSEN: Now what did that . . . can you describe that? I mean, I . . . .
CROSSETT: Well, they spoke with tongues, and they . . . they would pray out loud, everybody pray at once. And, of course, the Chinese do that a lot too. Everybody prays at once, pray their own prayers, [pauses] which I think is very good. I agree with that because then everybody prays. [laughs] But . . . .
ERICKSEN: Now how did they get the name shouters?
CROSSETT: Well, the Communists had given them that. We read in the pape . . . in the magazines that the charismatic people the Communists are calling shouters, because they do shout. And Communists arrest them.
ERICKSEN: Now is this in Taiwan?
CROSSETT: No, in China. In mainland China. But on Taiwan they don't call them shouters. They [pauses] call them the . . . they're . . . they're noisy though. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: We talked about strengths and weakness in the Chinese church. What about strengths and weakness in the . . . the tribal church in Taiwan?
CROSSETT: Well, even though we trained the leaders, the leaders are weak [laughs, pauses] in of the tribal churches. At least they were. I don't know what they are now. They didn't . . . as I said it was hard for them to apply what they've learned. And they didn't know standards. They would . . . the [rustling noise] richest person in town they would put in as elder, regardless of whether he believed or not. And they . . . they didn't have any judgment as far as, I mean, Bible standards for leadership. And that was a weakness. And then the marriage customs. The parents would try to make arrangements for the girls to be married. And if the girls didn't want the fellow they'd force her to marry him and it was very unhappy. I know one of the lovely girls in our school was . . . well, not in our school. She was in another Bible school. Lovely lovely Christian girl and she was very much in love with a boy in our school. And he was a very fine fellow and we were happy for them. But the parents forced her to marry a man she didn't want at all. And she was very unhappy, but she had to live with him. It was a . . . a case of him raping her. Her parents forced him to rape her so that she would have to marry him. And [pauses] it was terrible and this other fellow was very unhappy.
ERICKSEN: Is that a common situation?
CROSSETT: It was when we were there, that the parents would force the marriage. And it caused a lot of unhappiness among our students.
ERICKSEN: As you look back on your work on Taiwan, [pauses] can you think of one thing that you would say was your . . . your biggest contribution to the . . . the Taiwanese church?
CROSSETT: Well, we weren't working with Taiwanese churches at all.
ERICKSEN: Alright, the [pauses] . . . the tribal . . . yeah.
CROSSETT: The tribal church. I don't know. Just our teaching there and our help when we went into the mountains. Although . . . there was a girl at one of our . . . the girls in our school helped me in my housework and my cooking. And she did a lot of our cooking and cleaning for us. And she was a lovely lovely Christian girl and I . . . when we we'd go into the mountains she would help me with my VBS [vacation Bible school]. And I trained her in running a VBS and the next time we went she ran it and I worked under her. She told me what to do. And she did a excellent of running a big VBS. And she could play the organ and she . . . she taught them new songs that I wouldn't have . . . wouldn't teach them. I didn't know them. And they were excellent. She did such a good job and I was so glad. Afterwards she married one of the fellows . . . one of the fine fellows in the school. And they were working together in the mountains.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me a little bit about Ian and Helen Anderson. Weren't you both working . . . ?
CROSSETT: They worked in the school after we left.
CROSSETT: In the year we left they came in and worked in the school.
ERICKSEN: So you didn't know them?
CROSSETT: Oh yes, I knew them. We knew them . . . we'd known them in . . . we must have known them in China or something. Anyway, I know we knew them. But . . . .
ERICKSEN: Well, since you knew from . . . from China, what . . . can you tell me a little about them?
CROSSETT: [laughs] Not too much. I just know that Ian . . . they were both very musical. And they taught music and [pauses] I don't know. Ian had a little concert piano he use to sing with and [pauses] it was . . . I have a tape of his songs in Chinese that he taught . . . that he sang. But, I don't know when we first learned to know them. [laughs] We just [pauses] always liked them but we never got intimate with them.
ERICKSEN: What were the circumstances of your [pauses] coming home . . .of your retirement?
CROSSETT: Well, I got sick and got a heart attack and . . . and we had agreed that . . . because we went . . . when we went out last time, we were beyond age. And we agreed that if either one of us got sick that we would come home because we didn't want anyone to come off the field just to nurse us. So when I had that heart attack, we decided that it would be better to come home and the mission deci . . . agreed that it would be better, so we came home.
ERICKSEN: Now you say that when you went out your last time you were beyond age. Is there a retirement age that the mission sets?
CROSSETT: Sixty-five. But if you are able you can stay till seventy.
ERICKSEN: And what . . . what was the process that you went through for retiring? [unclear]
CROSSETT: Just came home. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Okay. [pauses] What does being an . . . a regional representative for the mission involve?
CROSSETT: You're supposed to start prayer groups in various towns and [pauses] superintend them, so you can look after them, see that they get books and literature and [pauses] speak at any missionary meetings that you're asked to. I don't know what else.
ERICKSEN: Is that sort of an unofficial position?
CROSSETT: It's voluntary.
ERICKSEN: Have you enjoyed doing that?
CROSSETT: Vincent was the regional representative. I just went along. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see. It wasn't the two of you together?
ERICKSEN: As you look back over your . . . your career as . . . as a missionary, how would you evaluate the . . . the interest and participation of American Christians in missions compared with when you first started?
CROSSETT: [pauses] I didn't really know what they were like when I first started 'cause I went right from college. And I hadn't been involved in churches in college. When we came home they seemed very interested. If . . . [laughs] I wouldn't know.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me about Vincent and Margaret Crossett Day?
CROSSETT: In . . . in Wyanet?
ERICKSEN: Oh, I'm not sure if it was Wyanet or Alto Pass.
CROSSETT: It was Wyanet.
CROSSETT: Well, it was a complete surprise to us. I think our daughters arranged for that with the pastor. And they . . . they got people to come from all over the place. The Kanes came and the friends from China, friends from way back, and all our relatives came from all over the country. My brother and his family came from California. It was all a surprise to us. It was . . . .
ERICKSEN: You didn't know a thing about it until it happened?
ERICKSEN: How did . . . what were the circumstances of it being sprung?
CROSSETT: [laughs] Well, they just said that we were having . . . they were having a Vincent and Margaret Day at the church and we were to come. We didn't know how to prepare or what . . . what it was all about. Then Vincent's sisters took me and got me a new dress, and [laughs] just . . . they fixed us all up for it. It was a complete surprise.
ERICKSEN: And what happened wh . . . in the course of [pauses] all the celebration?
CROSSETT: Well, they had all these people speak about what their memories of us were. And our daughters spoke and [laughs] my sister spoke [train in background] and brother and [pauses, laughs]. We were really made over. It was too much. They shouldn't have done that. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Did you enjoy it, feel a little uncomfortable?
CROSSETT: Oh well, both. We enjoyed it but I . . . I don't like being put in the public like that. They're having another one on the twenty-ninth of June but only just the two of us. They're not inviting all our relatives and all [laughs] but just to have us speak in the church [pauses] as a farewell. But [pauses] I'm not very fond of being put up in front [laughs], public.
ERICKSEN: Can you think about how the role of women as missionaries has changed over the course of your career?
CROSSETT: Well, in our mission is hasn't changed. It . . . [unclear] missionary . . . the women are always missionaries in our mission. The wives as well as the husbands are missionaries and they're expected to give a full missionary . . . full time to missions. And if they have children, [pauses] they look after them the best they can but they are to give time to their work. And I . . . I don't agree with the Presbyterian system of the man being the missionary and the women tagging along. The women should be missionaries too. [pauses, laughs]
ERICKSEN: Did . . . how did the contributions of married and single women differ?
CROSSETT: Well, the single women were free to travel around and hold meetings and teach and . . . and the married women, of course, had to be with the husbands and their children. But [pauses] they . . . they're different. I mean, the married woman had more access to the women with the . . . with children. And the . . . and . . . than the single women had. They were different aspects of the work.
ERICKSEN: How has . . . how has the mission changed?
CROSSETT: The mission has changed a great deal. When we first went out the . . . well, the first . . . in China all the time we were in China the mission was a dictatorship. The head of the mission was the last word and anything he said had to go. But it was a benevolent dictatorship. [laughs] And we were happy under it for the most part. But now they have a council, a group of men, the directors. And they . . . they make the polices and everything, which I think is much better.
ERICKSEN: When was that instituted?
CROSSETT: Well, when the mission came out of China. The . . . the dir . . . the [pauses] . . . main director [pauses], he tried to administer but he just couldn't do it. He couldn't hold the missionaries. They were all leaving like when we left too. But then some of the younger men got together and they said, "We've got to make a difference." And they asked him to leave and then they took over. And they reorganized the mission entirely. And it's so much better now. With the directors, different directors for different missions, different parts of the work. And when they get together . . . the directors get together once a year. And then they have a main council every two years, I believe it is, or three years. They all get together in Singapore and they discuss the different aspects of the work. And . . . and then every field has its own superintendent and director. And . . . because the fields are so different now, with different countries, different customs and everything. And so everything is . . . is decentralized. And it's really much better than it was. But, I like what they do. They . . . they spend so much time in prayer when they meet together. They spend days in prayer before they do any discussion. And then every . . . every problem that comes up they pray about it. And they don't make any decision without everybody consenting. They . . . they . . .
ERICKSEN: [unclear] unanimous.
CROSSETT: It has to be unanimous every time any decision is made. So that they never have a majority. [pauses] It's always unanimous. And I . . . I think that's good.
ERICKSEN: Are there any changes that you feel . . . have felt uncomfortable with?
CROSSETT: Since they . . . since we've come off . . . since . . . ?
ERICKSEN: No, over the course of [pauses] . . . of your . . . since you first became a missionary?
CROSSETT: What kind of changes?
ERICKSEN: Well, I don't know. You mentioned that . . . that one change that you felt was a good thing was moving to the council system. Is there any . . . any changes that . . . ?
CROSSETT: Well, I did . . . I wasn't . . . there were certain times when I thought that the head of the mission was unwise in some of his decisions. And quite a few of the others felt the same way.
ERICKSEN: That isn't exact . . . I guess, that isn't what I had in mind. Can you think of any example though, as long as we are talking about it that would illustrate that?
CROSSETT: Well, I remember when he was installed. I happened to be in Shanghai.
ERICKSEN: Now was this when Rev. Crossett was installed?
CROSSETT: No, this head of the mission. I won't name him.
CROSSETT: But his was installed as the . . . the head of the mission. And when he gave his speech he . . . you see, there was some tension between the British and the Americans at the time, because it's a British mission, basically it was a British mission. And [pauses] he said, "When it comes to appointing a superintendent of a province, [pauses] if there are two men who are equally [pauses] able to do it, one a Britisher and one an American, I will . . . . I will appoint the American." Well, it came up soon after that in one of the provinces, there was a Britisher and an American who were both equally able to do the work. And the people most of them wanted the American. He appointed the Britisher. When he was asked why he said, "Well, he was better qualified." [laughs] And he . . . he did that every time there was any decision. It was always the Britisher. And it didn't make the Americans feel too good. But that was a small matter.
ERICKSEN: Well, I've . . . I think I've asked all the questions I . . . I need to ask. Anything you would like to add as the conclusion?
CROSSETT: [noise of crumpling paper] I don't know. I'm just . . . just glad for the way the Lord led us all through the years. And He led every step of the way and we're . . . just rejoice. It's not that we didn't make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes at times. But, for the ma . . . all the way the Lord has led we're glad for the way the Lord had led. We just praise Him.
ERICKSEN: Well, we've covered a lot of ground and [pauses] [Crossett laughs] used a lot of tape.
ERICKSEN: Thank you very much for all your [rustling noise] input. It's been very helpful.
END OF TAPE