Billy Graham Center

Collection 303- Erma Horton Stevens Walker. T2 Transcript

This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Erma Horton Stevens Walker (CN 303, T2) 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 which are not commonly understood appear in italics. 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 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. 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 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 transcript completed by Noel Collins, October, 2008.


Collection 303, T2 Interview of Erma Walker by Paul Ericksen, May, 1985.

ERICKSEN: You mentioned some of the issues that you had to debate on. Were there any theological issues that were sort of the rage of the campus while you were here? That you remember being discussed?

WALKER: I took Ethics and Theism. I took Ethics with Dan Weyer in the summer time and that was good, that was good for me.

ERICKSEN: Why was that?

WALKER: Dan Weyer.

ERICKSEN: said it was good for you...why...?

WALKER: Well, because he gave a lot of.... It may have been Theism that I took. I took both Ethics and Theism, I had to as a senior. It may have been I took both of them in the summertime but I had time to go over my notes. And he gave some excellent teaching on the Word [the Bible] which was...which I really hadn’t had just like that. All I’d had was Ms. [Alice] Spaulding, that was the only Bible that I’d had out of...outside of Chapel. But, Dan Weyer gave teaching on the book of John, theism and it may have had an impact on my accepting the Lord. And I...grounded me in my faith I should say because that was in the between my junior and senior year. But, to me it was fascinating and it was a blessing. And I went home and since I didn’t have any...I was working in Vice President Cook’s office at that time, I was able to go home, I had no other responsibilities except to study. So, I would over all my notes with my Mother. But, that was good. Biblical doctrine is what grounds a Christian in their faith. You can talk about the Bible, you can give little discussions but when you have Biblical doctrine presented in a vibrant way, it makes an impact on the life. And that did that summer.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember anything of the missionary emphasis on the College, was there any?

WALKER: I do not remember missionaries coming back, I remember Dr. McCroken [?] made a impact on me. He...I was very much enamored with dramatic...Christian dramatics and I thought that I would go in to that. And I talked to him about it, he did not know I was unsaved and he said, "If you really want to serve the Lord, you should never enter into the Christian dramatic field, you’ll find it a disappointment.” So, I didn’t and the next time he came was my senior year, I dedicated my life to serve the Lord as a missionary.

ERICKSEN: During a service of his?

WALKER: Yes, oh yes. He...I never...I must say I never missed services. And the last...the last meeting on Friday night, I believe it was, that was the meeting that was the missionary challenge. There were...what I didn’t know at that time was that Bill Walker was sitting about five rows in front of me and both of us.... I didn’t know him at that time...I mean to say we only talked once. And what I didn’t know is that he dedicated his life to serve the Lord, and so did I, at that same meeting. Then we made, as was the custom at that time, a big circle around Pierce Chapel and he was in the back of the chapel, I was in the front right under the pulpit. And we sang and we confirmed our dedication to serve the Lord.

ERICKSEN: These were the people who had made a decision?

WALKER: Yes, there must have been a hundred or so. But those...those missionary emphasis meetings were very important, I believe, in challenging young people to go out on the mission field. There was that spiritual impact on lives, I don’t know if they’re still doing that. If they aren’t, they ought to.

ERICKSEN: Oh, they are.

WALKER: Are they? And you still have missionaries go out?


WALKER: ‘Cause we were there before in ‘40, well, my husband and I were here. We were in the meeting with a number fo the leaders of the school. And the greatest impact was on teachers and the professionals and we wondered where the missionary impact was. But, you have it now? I’m glad to hear that. We need it.

ERICKSEN: indicated that when you decided you wanted to commit your life to missionary service your husband-to-be did it at the same meeting, when did your...paths cross?

WALKER: [interrupts] What do you mean?

ERICKSEN: Well, you had said you had knew each other prior in sort of a casual way.

WALKER: [interrupts] Well, he came in...maybe not even that. He came in his junior...he’d gone to Palmer College. And there he had, he’d had a very good two years and he came up here his junior year. And I believe it was after I was saved, I was asked to lead the prayer meeting at Wheaton College and that was always a big thing.

ERICKSEN: Was this a big prayer meeting?

WALKER: Oh yes. In fact, all the students, don’t they have prayer meetings now? Practically all the student body, Pierce Chapel was filled. I don’t know what you’ve done with Pierce Chapel but Pierce Chapel below was just a large auditorium and that was filled. I would imagine there were four hundred, five hundred but it was just full. Everybody went to prayer meeting and I never missed. And so I was asked to lead...see I was the president of Boethallian [a literary society] and active in school, and so I was asked to lead, among others. And I wanted the most spiritual young man in school to lead singing for me because I had to choose someone. And so I looked over the student body and found Bill Walker. I didn’t know him at that time, never talked to him, I knew he was in class, saw him over there because the names were always called out in my Bible class and that’s the only class we were in together, never spoke to him, never spoke to me. But, I decided he was the one I was going to choose. Well, of course, I thought he was a song leader because I thought every young man ought to be a song leader. [laughs] And so I planned all my songs around my message. Well, as it happened, I didn’t know anything about music to speak of. And so I had some songs that were six...well, they were complicated and he said, "You know, I think it would be better to use this song.” I was so surprised that he didn’t use the songs I wanted [laughs], he didn’t tell me why until years later. And then I said, "Yes.” He said, "I think you better use this.” The thing was, all he could lead was two/four and four/four time, so he had a quick look for songs that would fit his leadership. But, we had a very good meeting. But, we never spoke after that, I never spoke to him, he never spoke to me, never even saw him in the halls. He was always busy and Christian work went to Chicago and was always very active in Athletes for the Lord. So, I never really saw him on campus. But, the famous senior sneak was when we met and Mary Beth Cromer.... You probably don’t....

ERICKSEN: What is the famous senior sneak?

WALKER: Oh, you don’t have a senior sneak? You missed all the good things at Wheaton. [laughs] That was famous, the senior sneak-the seniors got away to try to foil the juniors. And every year, the seniors would leave the school at a certain period of time just before...about two weeks before school’s out, maybe three before school’s out and it was a weekend. And we went over, I believe, to Paul Rader’s [evangelist] camp over in Michigan [Lake Harbor Camp]. I don’t recall the name, lovely camp. And Mary Beth Cromer, who married Mel Suttie, Mary Beth is with the Lord, they went to the mission field.

ERICKSEN: We interviewed Mel.

WALKER: You did? Mel? Yes, his wife is now with the Lord, died...went to be with the Lord just a few weeks after Bill did. We were.... Murray Downey (now the president of a Bible College in Canada, I believe he’s president) and they were talking and they wanted to...they decided they would date these two little girls that were standing on the other side of the prayer meeting. But, we were standing up after the morning breakfast. And so it was for a treasure hunt and so they invited us for a treasure hunt. That was the first...our first date that we had.

ERICKSEN: At Rader’s camp?

WALKER: Uh-huh.

ERICKSEN: Was Paul Rader there?

WALKER: No, we saw no one there. It was just, we just took over the whole camp, the whole senior class.

ERICKSEN: You’re mentioning the senior sneak reminded me of...made me think of pranks. Do you remember any pranks that were...?

WALKER: Well, I was never a part of the pranks.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember hearing of any?

WALKER: Oh yes, senior bench. They used to try to steal the senior bench.

ERICKSEN: Did they?

WALKER: I don’t know, I never....

ERICKSEN: Anything else you heard about?

WALKER: It’s rather dim...seems to me we had a cow in there sometime. But I was never a part of any of those pranks, I guess it’s because I lived off campus. Bill, I believe, was on the fourth floor for a while but then he lived at Green Lantern [name of an on-campus house]. But....

ERICKSEN: Anyway, going back to meeting your husband. You had your first date at the camp....

WALKER: [interrupts] The treasure hunt, yes. That’s where he said he found his treasure and I did, too.

ERICKSEN: Can you tell me how things progressed after that?

WALKER: Well, they didn’t progress very well. Harmon Low [?] who was here with Johanna Go...Get [?]...and they married, I decided to go home with them, he invited me to go home with them and so we rode back and the next thing that was coming up was the literary banquet as I recall. And I was very disappointed that this young man didn’t ask me to the literary banquet. But, he just wasn’t thinking about it until too late. And I had had several others that had asked me and I refused them hoping that Bill Walker would ask me. Well, the day came and I decided he wasn’t going to ask me so I accepted someone else. And then he asked me. So, I missed Bill and he asked my best friend, Katherine Walker. I think that was...he asked me before we were...left the campus. I don’t think we had another date. He asked me before we left the campus if I would like to have another...I don’t know why little girls are like that. But, I said...well, here I was one of the editors on the Record [and I said, "Well, I don’t write very well.” [laughs] Why are girls like that? So, I...I really discouraged him. And he went down to Dallas Seminary, he wrote me a card, dutifully, and I [pauses] took a long time to answer. But, at Dallas Seminary when fall, when the fall started, (if you are interested in all these details). Harold Van Broekhoven, who was here last night and Norton Sterrett who went to India, said, "What’s happened to Erma Walker...Erma Stevens?” He said, "Well, I don’t think she’s interested in me.” He said, "Well, why don’t you write her?” By that time, I was going to Northwestern and I was on the faculty here and so, they encouraged him to write me. Well, that started it and we wrote from then on, we graduated in ‘35 and we were married in ‘38. And our friendship was entirely by correspondence. He came back once when I was teaching and then again Christmas when he proposed...the next Christmas when he proposed. And then we were married in ‘38 and went out to the mission field in ‘ ‘42. Went to Dallas Seminary, we went our senior year we were married, our senior year at Dallas Theological Seminary which was a tremendous blessing to me though I was not in seminary...


WALKER: ...yet. I was active in Christian groups, all of them, blessed friendship of Mrs. Van Broekhoven, Lelaine [?] Chafer, the daughter of Don T. Chafer, who was the brother of Dr. Chafer [Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer] of Dallas Theological Seminary. She was a precious Christian, vibrant and just having contact with her was a blessing because she always would mention the Word of God. And the precious things...the precious things in Peter, and she just went down the line and how precious Peter was and the precious things in Peter. And a person that relates themselves to the Word of God has something to say. And she was a blessing and we had our...had decided that we were going to the mission field. He was a Presbyterian pastor.

ERICKSEN: Bill was?

WALKER: He was associate pastor of the First Presbyterian church of Longview, East Texas. We had a city mission which was probably the dregs of the oil...oil fields came there, drunkenness and broken homes. And, we had one of the finest country churches in Elderville which was people from...settlers from Virginia who were just the finest of people and wonderful cooks. And we...we had...we built a beautiful church there, we built two churches, one in the Elwell [?] area, I should say west, I think, of Longview and then out at Elderville, we built a church there that. I hope is still standing.

ERICKSEN: Now, those were churches that you planted?

WALKER: Yes, they were churches that were just little groups that were struggling, you know, a rented...the one...the mission was in just a little rented house. Just about twice as large as here, it was just a small room. And we built a beautiful church with all...with stained glass windows from the First Presbyterian Church when they tore it down and built a new one. So, we had really a beautiful church in that area that God really blessed. And then in Elderville, we had a...when we were there, there were just a few people and we saw God’s blessing on that church, too. Praise the Lord that He was able to hear and answer the prayer of two little people that wanted to serve Him.

ERICKSEN: How did the city mission get started? Did you start that?

WALKER: No, it was just a few people that were there. It was an outreach of the Presbyterian church. But, we started a mission up in Monroe which was just a crossroads and asked my brother, Steve.... At that time, brother brother Steve was at Dallas Theological Seminary. So, he came and he preached his first sermon. And, I spoke to the women’s club in Dalton [?] not too long ago. I told them something I’d never told before. He got up and he was so nervous.... Now, you don’t know brother Steve, but he’s now a world traveler, preaches to.... When I spoke at his church a few months ago, the evening service was a thousand people. Of course, the morning service was larger. And, he just is really a fantastic preacher even if he is my brother. But that first service that he spoke, it was in the afternoon, he kept seeing if his fingernails were okay, first one then the other.

ERICKSEN: While he was talking?

WALKER: Yes. [laughs] Because he was so embarrassed to look at the people. Well, that was the first time but he decided that that wasn’t too good. So, he started practicing his arm movements. "I’m going to give some enthusiasm to this next message.” Well, the next message the next Sunday, he really got enthusiastic and he was edging closer and closer to the edge of the was a...about four feet off the ground, with a stage there. He got closer and closer. And he, in his good enthusiasm to make a strong point, he fell over the edge of the platform and landed on his feet below. [chuckles] But, that was the....

ERICKSEN: [interrupts] Intentionally?

WALKER: No! Those were two catastrophes in his first two message that ever preached. But, you should hear him now.

ERICKSEN: Do you recall what he was preaching on?

WALKER: No, I don’t remember.

ERICKSEN: They were evangelistic talks?

WALKER: They...yes. He was very anxious to reach the young people and so he was a wrestler, learned wrestling here [at Wheaton] and so he challenged the country boys that he would throw anyone. And they came from P-town [?], they came from twenty five miles around to throw the preacher. And he threw every one of them, he was in good condition.

ERICKSEN: Did a lot of people come..?

WALKER: [interrupts] Oh yes.

ERICKSEN: response to that?

WALKER: Oh yeah, he had...had a good little mission and that was our outreach.

ERICKSEN: Do you recall any...anything of the...not big time evangelists but meeting evangelists in the country at that time when they came through the area?

WALKER: No, Massee [J.C. Massee] was the only one...Methodist evangelist.

ERICKSEN: Well, let’s go back to Wheaton just another minute. You said you were teaching at Wheaton after you had graduated and you were going to Northwestern [University, in Evanston, Illinois], what classes did you teach?

WALKER: Journalism.

ERICKSEN: How did it seem to teach at the school where you’d studied?

WALKER: Well, I tell you what I...I enjoyed teaching the straight...I should say, writing. Because I had...I had asked to be set up with something that I had learned at Northwestern with each one had typewriters and I was...I gave them over a microphone and it was all really creative. I give...I’d give them information as would come in from an accident or a storm or something over the microphone. I don’t know if they do that now but I introduced this and I asked for these typewriters so that I could with a microphone I could give them this information and they would write a story. And so they would write stories and I taught them to write that way. I don’t know if I’d do that now but that’s what I did then. But when it came to straight teaching, it was rather dull for me because I hadn’t had really the background of history of teaching, history of journalism. But I I say that was probably more difficult for me, I enjoyed the teaching of straight journalism, that was my major. But, I had a young man in that class...he was an outstanding young man and he was a real vibrant Christian and when he left school, he was driving home to Beloit, I believe it was and he had a terrible accident and was killed and I went up with Jerry McCullum [?] (I don’t know if you know Jerry McCullum [?]) one of and his wife who, they were in charge of the cafeteria at that time and then there were some other students who went up there to the funeral. That was the most exciting thing...most tragic thing and yet it made...the services made a profound impression on me because he was really loved in that town and a real Christian.

ERICKSEN: Did you find as being on the faculty that you...or even I guess as a student after you were converted, that you found other students who weren’t Christians as you had been who sort of blended in with...?

WALKER: I can’t say that I did, I was going to school, teaching at university, and I was...I had some conflicts there at the Northwestern University. Had a professor who I’m...was a "pink”, we called them pinks at that time as the Russian espionage network was just sort of beginning back there in those years. It began before but it was...I had a professor there I’m sure was a Communist. And he spoke about "the glories of Russia” and this new movement over there that was going to really be a wonderful thing. And I had some conflicts with him, he liked my writing and he always wanted some of my papers...copies of my papers. But, he did his best to convert us and I was...I was the only one who stood strong against that professor. There was another girl that was a very weak Christian, she...we talked together and she seemed to be a Christian but she didn’t have the background that I had in the Word but we were the only two. And she was weak but...but stood...anyway, she didn’t stand but I stood against him.

ERICKSEN: And how would you...?

WALKER: But I just.... He said, "Why, you can’t accept the Bible! The Bible says the world has four corners, is flat, that’s ridiculous!” I said, "But the Bible also says, (I believe it’s in Isaiah) that God sat...spoke of the globe of the earth.” Later I found it, but I found it for him. But, then, I went to the school.... This is a long time ago-there is a Methodist school (not McCormick [McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago], maybe McCormick) that was really becoming even then it had to becoming [sic] a hot bed of Liberalism and while I was there...

ERICKSEN: Here in this area?

WALKER: Oh no, in Northwestern University see I was at Northwestern University. I stayed at....

ERICKSEN: Garrett [Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, Illinois]?

WALKER: Garrett, yes it was Garrett. And while I was there, I only went there after classes on Thursday or Friday and came back on Monday, for Monday classes. So I was only there the weekend. And I went to one of these big meetings, they were...he was really going to be a big man who was coming in and speaking. And I heard what he said, he was a Communist! And then they were giving it to the students. I was so effected by this, because I was just a new Christian, really, so I just decided I was going to go over to the archives at Northwestern University to study Communism. And I got out just the atrocities of must have been the early atrocities of Lenin and of the Bolshevik Revolution [November 1917], right at the beginning two great massacres, thousands of people were killed and I...I studied that so I was convinced that they were on the wrong track. [chuckles] And I was really shocked and I had...there was, I ate with them, I ate there at Garrett. They had nice food and I was in a home where there were some older girls that were in the Seminary. And, at least one or two of them were real Christians and I was there at the table. I can remember when one young man said, "I was in one of those meetings of a fellow from Moody and he was talking about this salvation. Can you just imagine trying to put it over on them?” He was just really bitter. And, I said, "Well, you know, it’s a wonderful salvation and I’ve accepted the Lord as my Savior and I know I’m going to heaven.” He looked at me, suddenly changed. But, I can remember that one of the...a number of the girls came to me after that confrontation, which was probably the strongest confrontation that I had, and said, "We wish we had your courage.” Because I was a brand new Christian.... "We wish we had your courage, we have to take these classes in order to go back on the mission field. We don’t dare say anything or we would not be credited.” And so I had a chance to talk with them and my dear friend, who was a roommate in that same house where I lived near Garrett. She said, "You have strengthened me just to see you stand for the Lord”. And I’d never said, I never mentioned these things at that time, but I...I’ve been aware of the fact that when we come out for the Lord and we stand for Him, it doesn’t hurt us and it may encourage somebody else. But, Christians seem to be always so afraid they’re going to offend someone. Whereas those on the other side that are trying to destroy Christianity are so strong in trying to get converts. We should be just as strong.

ERICKSEN: Going back down to Texas, when did you and your husband start thinking about definite plans to go to South America or Central America?

WALKER: Well, I should go back first when we...we first had some of our...he took me home from...when he came up the first time and I was teaching at Wheaton. He said, "You know I’m interested....” He was taking me home one evening and he said, "I feel God’s calling me to the mission field.” And I said, "Well, I feel God’s called me.” "Oh,” he said, "are you sure? You’re just such a doll...”, and he said, " I don’t know whether you could li...could go on the mission field.” And that hurt me, man....

ERICKSEN: What did he mean by that?

WALKER: I don’t know, guess I was...I don’t know. But anyway, he just didn’t see how it would be possible. He may have been challenging me and I said I felt God had called me to be a missionary.

ERICKSEN: At that point, did you even prior to his saying that, did you have any notion of where you....

WALKER: [interrupts] No.

ERICKSEN: ...might like to do that?

WALKER: No. I did not.

ERICKSEN: Any particular kind of work?

WALKER: No, I just wanted to be a missionary, it was indefinite it was just to serve the Lord. And after we were married, we...we, that was always our goal. Bill was one that always had goals. And we...we applied to the Presbyterian Church Mission. He said, "This is my first responsibility, I’m a Presbyterian.” Applied to the Presbyterian Church Mission board and they were...they wan...they wanted to...turn him...they turned him...they wanted first to have him go seven more years to their Presbyterian schools. He’d already graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. And he just didn’t feel that that was the course that he wanted to travel. And they also felt that I was too soon out of Christian Science, see, I far as they were concerned, I’d just been converted my junior year at Wheaton College. And they didn’t think that I would be strong enough to be able to be a good missionary. So, on those two accounts, we were turned down.

ERICKSEN: Was there something they felt was deficient from his Dallas education?

WALKER: Well, it was just a routine in which they feel that every one of their missionaries should go through their schools. And I believe it’s in order to bring them out into the Presbyterian viewpoint. Bill was a good Presbyterian, but he was of the true Presbyterian viewpoint, not of the more liberal. And he was not interested at all. So, we took this as a "no” signal that it was God’s closed door. And immediately we applied to the Central American Mission and he...this was our senior year. No, we got the word after we had graduated and were in our church in East Texas. And there we decided that morning that we prayed in our little, few rooms in our farmhouse there in East Texas, we prayed about God’s guidance. And he said, "I feel that...(because he knew Central American Mission) that we should consider applying.” And so, we went into Dallas and put our application in.

ERICKSEN: Now, how did he become familiar with Central American Mission?

WALKER: [interrupts] Dallas Theological Seminary.

ERICKSEN: So, it was a natural...

WALKER: [interrupts] Yes, it was natural.

ERICKSEN: ...thing to do?

WALKER: Uh-huh. Well, he felt his first obligation was to the Presbyterian Church. And the pastor, Dr. Fogherty [?] who is...was responsible for our ordination...see, being a Dallas Theological Seminary graduate, and being in the Presbyterian church were so anathema.


WALKER: The Presbyterian board. You know why they didn’t like those who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary? I’ll tell you why. They told us, "Whenever a Dallas man goes to of our churches, he inoculates them, they only want Dallas men from then on. They like that teaching and we lose a church, so to speak.” Isn’t that tremendous? The people come to love the teaching of the Word of God of the Dallas men and that’s why they don’t like Dallas men.

ERICKSEN: So you applied CAM? Do you call it CAM?

WALKER: They’re international now, because it’s now, they’ve changed it. Because it’s now .

ERICKSEN: What was the procedure for your application and acceptance? Can you tell me about that?

WALKER: We applied, we gave references and the references were studied, then we were called in.

ERICKSEN: Called in for the...?

WALKER: We must have been called in for some type of interview, that’s [unclear]. But, then we were accepted and Bill said, "We want to go to the most needy field in Central America.” And we did, we were sent to [El] Salvador. There that time, there were no younger men missionaries at all. They were all older women except for one older couple, the McNotts [?]. Uh-huh.

ERICKSEN: Do you remember anything about the interview?

WALKER: No, my husband made many many interviews, he was director of the Central American Mission later...


WALKER: ...but I was never...I never was a part of that.

ERICKSEN: So, you weren’t in on the interview?

WALKER: Yes, but I mean...he made many interviews with the candidates in later years when he was director after we came home from the mission field.


WALKER: But, I was never a part of those interviews and I was always the quiet partner. Bill gave all the answers and I was always....

ERICKSEN: So, they didn’t question you?

WALKER: I’m sure they did but everything was down on paper...everything was down on paper. I believe they called us in to just acknowledge our acceptance.

ERICKSEN: Now, what did you do in between the time you were appointed...I...I...saw somewhere in your file it was 1939.

WALKER: [interrupts] We were...he was a pastor.


WALKER: He was associate pastor of the Presbyterian church of Longview, East Texas. And that’s when we had the come to church, we opened up the little mission in Monroe, which was just seven miles out and had the city mission.

ERICKSEN: Now, were those things that the mission requested you to do as sort of...?

WALKER: No, oh no, no no. As soon as we gra...before...that senior year, it was a point in life when he felt he needed a church. So, we received a grand sum of eighty dollars, he was receiving eighty dollars a month. Then when he had a wife, I think they put it up to a hundred. We got along. Milk was ten cents a bottle.

ERICKSEN: So, the reason that you didn’t go to the mission field immediately was because of your appointments in these...?

WALKER: Yes, he felt that we should have the experience.


WALKER: As a pastor and so we stayed there. [pauses] It was ‘42.

ERICKSEN: How’d you find being a pastor’s wife?

WALKER: I loved it. I taught the women. By that time, I’d gotten over some of my fears, had some wonderful meetings, studied and prepared. I went with him every place. We would visit homes of the members. We would also invite our home. We lived in a log cabin, we decided we had a very nice apartment in Longview as the other pastors who had been there had and they were comfortable but Bill would say, "We should really be among the people.” So, they moved a log cabin near the site, which is right near the present airfields...Longview airfield, not a big one but an airfield, overlooks the airfield. So, we lived in a log cabin. We didn’t have any facilities to speak of, we had a wood stove, we had two rooms, [unclear] in front, just a log cabin, that’s all. Didn’t even have any chinks in when the weather came, the wind started blowing in. We had blue paper on the inside, which is just regular heavy paper and so old Mr. Sam [?] said, "Well, I believe you need a chink in the house.” So, he came over and he and Bill chinked in the whole house and then it was warm.

ERICKSEN: And what is "chinking”?

WALKER: Chinking...well, you know logs... how logs are? And you know how they don’t always fit perfectly? At least the....


WALKER: The logs that are just logs cut down to that size. Now, they have large houses that fit perfectly and are really air tight. So, they take mud and cement and just chink it in.

ERICKSEN: Oh, I see.

WALKER: And then, when we had winds, the paper wouldn’t just fall off the wall and just rise with the wind. And we had very little furniture, a bed and a little desk and a chair. And out of, we were preparing then for the mission field.


WALKER: And so out of boxes, heavy orange crates, we made our furniture for the kitchen and for our dishes and bought curtains at ten cents a yard-curtain material and made curtains for our house, looked like a dollhouse when we finished with it. But, we lived very simply, we had a well, had an outhouse.

ERICKSEN: You mentioned that the reason you wanted live where you did, in the kind of home you did, was to live with the people. did that seem to work?

WALKER: Oh, wonderful, they loved it. Yes, they loved it. My mother didn’t really think it was necessary for me to do much cooking, she never taught me, I was always so busy teaching and studying, busy in my own little life. I was...I was in dramatics and had the opportunity to was...give programs in different church groups. They should have any Bible studies but they liked to have these little dramatic stories that I told. So, it was not until mother got sick that I would cook and so I...I had to learn some things. And, we wanted to invite people in but we didn’t even know how to cut up a chicken. We had live chickens. And so the morning that we were going to have something that night, we cut up the chicken. He...he...he killed the chicken and cut it but we didn’t know we had to have hot water and a great big tug to pull off the feathers. And about four o’clock, we finally got the feathers off [laughs] and the folks started coming in, our friends and of course, we only had two rooms. And, we weren’t ready till about eight and they waited and waited and so he...we really weren’t prepared for guests, with our clothes or any other way. And, of course, we had just painted things and so, finally when we were ready with a nice little dinner, they said, "Why, oh, were you painting?” They never knew that we had problems with getting feathers off the chicken. [laughs] Of course, the country folks would never have problems like that but we were city folks but we were determined to learn these things so that we could go to the mission field and learn something like this and learn to be able to fend for ourselves. We had some very interesting experiences, trying to live among the people.

ERICKSEN: You mean in Texas?

WALKER: In Texas, yes, this was in Texas. Learning before we went to the mission field.

ERICKSEN: Can you think of any other, you referred to interesting incidents, can you think of any others?

WALKER: Well, we would go to the homes. He loved to use charts and we would go from one home to another and had an evening with them and we’d take out our chart and he would teach the Bible. We were never just social folks, we always do it with a purpose and the purpose was to edify and be a blessing to people. And so, we would go from home to home and this was when the people were taught and strengthened in the Lord. They had a women’s society, we would just go all over the countryside and pick up the women and I would teach them.

ERICKSEN: Do you recall any...during that time, any particular passages that seemed to be particul...particularly influential or that...people looked at or responded to more than others?

WALKER: No...I began studying the Psalms in my devotions with [Charles] Spurgeon’s, Treasury of David. And I guess that that was a tremendous influence in making the Psalms become real. As I did not know what Bible study was. All I’d had, you see, was Romans and Hebrews at Wheaton and then Theism. I guess I had omitted to say that I went to Columbia Bible College under the influence of my friend, Katherine Walker. And so after I...I was...after teaching at Wheaton....

ERICKSEN: That was before you were married?

WALKER: Yes, and Bill felt that it would be good if I were to have some Bible training and so he suggested that I do...and Katherine suggested maybe Wheaton, that I would be able to apply.

ERICKSEN: To Columbia?

WALKER: Yeah, I went to Columbia Bible College and it was a blessing to me.

ERICKSEN: How long were you there?

WALKER: I was not well and I had to leave the first year I was going there. I was in the Master’s program. That first year was profound, made a profound impression upon me. I thank the Lord for it. Dr. Bailey [?] of the Africa Inland Mission gave a message on watching. I think it was Psalm one, two, three [under breath], four or five, watching before the Lord. And my spiritual life was greatly enhanced and deepened by my contacts at Columbia Bible College and the prayer meetings that we had that meant so much to me. I learned to pray, I really learned to pray. I wouldn’t exchange those months there at the Bible College. I wasn’t use to Southern food, it was too much for me. [laughs] I was used to a very plain, Northern diet. That really was my problem, I just got sick.

ERICKSEN: Well, we’re getting to the...we’re at the end of our time, so let’s stop for now and I think we’re at a good breaking point. And we are about ready to...I think when we pick up again, we’ll start with you moving down to Central America. So, thanks very much.

WALKER: Well, I trust that I’m not just telling all these things about myself, somebody’s learned some new things. [laughs]


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Last Revised: 7/25/07
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© 2016 Wheaton College. All rights reserved. This transcript may be reused with the following publication credit: Used by permission of the Billy Graham Center Archives, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL.2007