to listen to an audio file of this interview (63 minutes)
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the second oral history interview of Torrey Maynard Johnson (CN 285, T1) 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, made by Robert Shuster and Timothy Gulsvig, was completed in March 2010.
SHUSTER: Okay, so here we go again. Now it’s set at [tape recorder turned off and on] I’m here in an interview with Mr. Donald Berry for the archives of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. It took place in the offices of the archives on February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day, 1986, at 1:40 p.m. Mr. Berry, what... was the home that you grew up in a Christian home?
BERRY: Divided. I think, now, as we find... as I found out more about my father, we feel that he was raised by Christian parents in Tennessee, though they both died in a typhoid epidemic in the 1880s and left him then kind of orphaned at eleven, and he lived with an aunt, so he came to the Lord in a remarkable way when he was seventy-five. But as I grew up as a child, my main religious concerns and emphasis was really from my mother. My father was a very very fine man, but he did not go to church, except maybe on Christmas, something like that. But he did make a profession at seventy-five, and... and evidenced the new life from... for those last five years of his life.
SHUSTER: How did he come... how did he come to make a profession of...?
BERRY: Well, he was a... he had worked in a sugar factory most of his adult life as a superintendent and more involved with the manufacture of the sugar. He was supervising the... the sugar making process. And after their beet season, which was about a three month time of making the sugar, the remainder of the year was... had to do with storing and packing and shipping. And they worked in these big warehouses with a lot of lint from that... the fibers of the sacks. So he had a real bad congested chest, oh, from the last twenty years of his life. And... it was in one of those occasions that he was in the hospital and, you know, we kind of... everybody in the family would give up on him, but he would be able to come back. He can sit there in any kind of strength [?] but he repeatedly would do that, and on one of these occasions, he suddenly realized that the Lord was certainly helping him and... and then, he couldn’t take credit for himself that he was able to... to get better and come back home, and so he... he just gave... got by his bed and thanked the Lord for... for doing that, and that just released him then to rejoice and to participate and share Christ.
SHUSTER: What about the... your mother’s faith?
BERRY: It was very elemental, very small. She was sincere. She grew up as a child in... in Montana. Her parents were Swedish and Norwegian. And she had some training as a child, but her faith never developed. She could read the Bible, and she did. But the main thing she could say to us was “Be good. Don’t be bad.” She was unable to really instruct us, and of course, my father didn’t instruct us either, and that... that meant, then, that the training that we... we got, beside the Bible reading and... and regular evening prayer, as kids was what happened in church. And the church we attended was a First Baptist Church, but at that time, they had the Word of God there, but they certainly didn’t emphasize it. It was un... somewhat non-typical in terms of being Baptist. You think of Baptist as being very Evangelical and Bible-believing, but.... And it wasn’t until I was... in the eighth grade that I really understood and could make a profession of faith in Christ that was real for me, and so I can say, from that point on, I... I had a living relationship with Jesus.
SHUSTER: How did that come about?
BERRY: Well, it had to do with my mother leaving the Baptist church, because she was obviously seeking the Lord. And... on one occasion, she came home very distressed from a Wednesday evening prayer meeting when the pastor had asked for someone to counsel with a young woman in the...that had come to him if they could and if they would, because he was unable to help her. She wanted to know how to be saved, and he couldn’t tell her. So, my mother said, “Well, if the pastor can’t tell a person how to be saved, what am I doing here?” And, so then she went church hopping, found a little Pentecostal church the other side of the railroad tracks, and their strong teaching and the emotion of the...the emotional content of it got a hold of my mother, and... and she said, “From this point on, I am a Christian.” So, I was eighth grade, and she took me by the ear, and I went there, and all the things that I had been hearing and reading and having read to me made sense. And so, kind of reluctantly, I accepted the Lord.
SHUSTER: Why do you say kind of reluctantly?
BERRY: Well, it was... to do it on the other side of the tracks in this little church with these poor people that were not the... not the... the people to be with in the city, in terms of my other friends. But I stayed faithfully with that little group through my high school and through my first year college, which was at a state... state teacher’s college in Colorado, at which time, World War... you know, the... excuse me, Pearl Harbor happened, and I realized I soon would be in the service, so then I had an opportunity to come back to Wheaton. I knew I would... I was an Air Force Reserve and... to get some spiritual training and help, and I did that, and at Wheaton, then, I found my first real satisfaction because there were people that loved the Lord obviously and... and devout people. Dr. Edman. I was a friend of Billy Graham’s. I beat him in checkers at... in the dining hall. And that... that... that... that brought things into focus.
SHUSTER: When... you grew up in Colorado?
SHUSTER: When you went into service during the war, how did that affect your faith?
BERRY: Well, my time at Wheaton certainly was helpful.
SHUSTER: You were in Wheaton before you were in the service?
BERRY: Yes, I... I... I transferred from State Teacher’s College in Graley, Colorado, to Wheaton my sophomore year. And I was here one semester when the Air Force Reserve was called, and so I left school at that point and went into cadet training. And... this... the time at Wheaton, the... the fellowship, the council, the guidance, the... I heard my first missionary here. I’d never... I’d never heard a missionary before.
SHUSTER: Who was it? Do you know?
BERRY: I don’t remember. He was obviously working in... with Muslims, because he stood dressed in his Arab garb, and the just of his message was, “I need...I need people to come help me. I have been prepared. The Lord has guided me and led me to... to go and to be a... a preacher... a teacher of the Word on... on the mission field. But as I’ve gotten to the mission field, I’ve found that I have been so pressed with other kinds of duties for which I am not prepared that almost have to abandon my...my main calling, which is preaching and teaching, by having to do something with...trying to help the people in agriculture and trying to help...do something in education.” And he said, “I really...I need a...I need a farmer, and I need an educator to come with me.” And having been raised on a farm, I said, “Ah, he’ll settle for a modified pig pen,” of which I had built a lot. [laughs] And so, that...that message...that night showed me that there was a ministry...something I could do, because my inclinations were not as a student. I barely got into Wheaton, and I barely stayed in Wheaton from an academic point of view, though I did...did graduate. I see later, now, how the Lord could have used me in a preaching and a teaching ministry, but...at that...at that age, I could not conceive of that, and that would have been a block which would have...unless the Lord had worked divinely in my life, I would have never said I will try to do that. But I could see how I could do...do farming or I could do...even education. And I was...I was encouraged with that, and shortly after that half of a semester at Wheaton, I...I went into the Air Force, and then on one of my first Army Air Force...Army Air Corps it was called in those days...on one of my first solo training flights (this would have been in May of 1943), I suddenly realized how the airplane could go from one place to another. And we were flying over some rugged little mountains in...in central California, the Sierra Madres, and in that moment, the Lord said...seemed to say to me, “This is what I have for you to do. Go with the airplane and assist in missions in a service capacity.”
SHUSTER: How did you come to apply to Wheaton in the first place? Why...why was that?
BERRY: Well, primarily, my closest friend, Bill Rayburn, came to Wheaton as a...as a freshman. Somehow, he had contact and...and chose to come to Wheaton, perhaps through his interest in Spanish. He was an outstanding Spanish student, later became a...got a doctorate in linguistics and worked with the American United Bible Societies and just recently has retired. He worked in Africa, doing special research then with the...their secretary for the Arab world, Pakistan, Egypt, and then later finished out being the secretary for their South America work. But, Bill was the one who interested me.
SHUSTER: Uh huh.
BERRY: And then when I knew that I was going into service, it was easy to come back to be with Bill, and to be at Wheaton to get that kind of spiritual help, before I went into the service.
SHUSTER: You mentioned that you were in the Army, then the Air Force Reserve. Why the Air Force Reserve?
BERRY: Well, in those days...you had to have two years college before you could go into pilot training. This was pre-war and early-war years. Then, when they realized they were going to have to have a...a great need for...for pilots, they came up with a cadet training program where people could sign up in the Air Force...Air Force...
SHUSTER: The Army Air Force.
BERRY: The Army...Air Force Corps and be deferred to get their second year of college and then come directly into training. And the Navy had a similar program. In fact, I was...I contacted the Navy first and had an assignment, an appointment to go to California to begin Naval training. When the Air Force came to the State College in Colorado, where I was attending, and they sent a squadron of P-38s flying low over...over the campus, and I was enthralled by the...the P-38, and so I also took their tests, and they gave me more...a little bit more deferment than I would going as a naval pilot, so I...I simply selected that.
SHUSTER: Had you flown at all by this time or did you...?
BERRY: I had never...never been in an airplane. I had only seen them. I was attracted by things mechanical, and so, having a choice then, between the Army Navy the...and/or Naval Air Corps or Army Air Corps, I chose the...the attempt at the Air Corps.
SHUSTER: Was there attraction to flying itself? I mean, what...?
BERRY: No, not really. A choice of things. And...my concern, as a Christian, at that point, was getting into the Air Force and...and what...what kind of flying would I do. And...and my...my desire was to be a fighter pilot rather than a bomber pilot. I...I had problems just pulling a trigger and...and dropping bombs, but I felt more at peace on sort of one to one. You know, again, my athletics - you know, you’d rather fight out it with out an individual than indiscriminate. So...and the Lord honored that, too, through...through my training, allowing me to stay in the fighter training.
SHUSTER: After your time...your half-semester at Wheaton and you went into the Army Air Corps, how did...how did your faith affect your military experience?
BERRY: Well, my...my time in the service probably was the best thing that...that ever happened to me, in terms of my faith, in that I learned at Wheaton that short semester a bit about devotions and the devotional aspect of...of the Christian life, and I determined that in the service, I would, from the very first day, have a...a commitment to...to be openly Christian, and the only way I could think to do that would be every morning rolling out of my bed and having a prayer time. Then, in the evening, having a little Bible study by myself and a prayer time by kneel...and kneeling, not trying to hide it. And...once I made that decision, and the first time I did it, well then it was easy to do after that. But it separated me and I...I had a lot of harassment and...and and difficulty that way. Yet, all of the fellows, when they were with me privately and had an occasion to talk about these things, would...would commend me. And...and they appreciated the fact that I chose to do that.
SHUSTER: What do you mean harassment?
BERRY: Oh, guys get on your back and riding you like you were...or like they were cowboys and.... You know, that sort of thing.
SHUSTER: You mean, literally get on your back?
BERRY: Yeah, literally. Yeah, yeah. You know that would...that...that happened. You know it didn’t happen every...every day, of course. [chuckles] But, normally, when you changed, you came into a new environment and new people, and then somebody would see you do that, they would wonder what you were doing. Some people couldn’t understand it, and...and other people simply made fun of it. But that settled in, and they...they accepted it.
SHUSTER: After your training, where were you...were you sent?
BERRY: Well, we stayed in training right up to the atomic bomb. [August 1945] At that point, I was a P-47 fighter pilot on...in...in a training squadron headed for Japan. And when the bomb fell, we were deferred, given additional training, and then discharged, I think, the middle of November of 1945, which allowed me then to quickly get back to Illinois to...to attempt to get back into Wheaton College. I had a little bit of a miracle there because my grades hadn’t been that good in that half semester. A lot of things were happening, and...before I went into service, so that when I first came back and went in to see...Dr. [Enoch C.] Dyrness I think was the registrar then, and he checked my records, and he said, “Hey Don, I’m sorry. You know, since before the war and now, we...we’ve had some scholastic improvements in our...in our entrance of students. And...and frankly, you don’t quite meet our...our standard, and so sorry, there is no place for you.” So I was very very disappointed and went back to my wife’s home in Moline, which is a 150 miles west of here. And the very next week, I got a letter from Dr. Dyrness with acceptance, so I jumped in the car, dashed over here, and went in to see him very enthused, and put the letter down before him, and said, “Boy, I’m sure glad you guys are reconsidered, you know, because I really feel this is what God want us to do, and things...things are very different now than they were pre-war when I really didn’t know what was happened. And I need this training and want it, and we’re looking to the mission field, etc., etc.” Well, he had no...no record of ever having approved me to return. And some mistake was made. To me, it was a divine mistake. But he said, “Since I have done this and since you had been here and since you were a veteran we will let you in.” And I did much better work. I guess I did at least eighty work after that. So, I came then back. I was a...Phys. Ed. Major before the war, and I came back and had an interdivisional major, which was just being offered, Recreational Leadership. And I was the first Recreational Leadership graduate.
SHUSTER: Recreational Leadership being..?
BERRY: Combination of Phys. Ed. and Christian Ed. Because I recognized that...that Phys. Ed. really wasn’t the...the thing I...I needed to bone up on, you know, in the years I needed to spend to get my degree. And so, combining those two helped.
SHUSTER: You mentioned a little bit the...difficulty you had with being a bomber pilot as opposed to a fighter pilot. During your time, at least at Wheaton [?] before the war, was there any other...was there any debate or other discussion of the kind of moral dilemma of the Christian during wartime?
BERRY: No. I think the Christian community at that time was much more...[breathes] ready to, you know, to...to accept the...the fact that...that...that America stood for right and it was right to go and fight for right. And...and so war in those days was either a right or a wrong thing, and the American people and the American churches and even here at Wheaton at that point, I think they assume that...that we are right...as...as well as we needed to defend ourselves. And I...so, so those kinds of issues were...were really weren’t discussed by students...or the students I was...had acquaintance with during those pre-war years. It was all much more simple than it appeared to be, you know, when I was in Laos flying alongside active military activity. You know, I was doing missionary work, and...and here was the CIA with their Air America and Air Continental and...doing all this flying. And I was mixed up right in it, flying to the same places. And at that point, I began to then develop my own theology, and...and now I...I...I am a pacifist, whereas before, I...I would...would not have been.
SHUSTER: Would you like to describe your theology?
BERRY: Well, I...[pauses] I like to say that I’m a pan-millenialist. You know, I believe in the end, it’s going to pan out alright. [pauses]
SHUSTER: You might want to mention some of the phases of which you reached your present stance.
BERRY: Yeah. Well, it...it...it had to do, you know, very much with flying in Laos and encouraging, you know, when I hear the...see the fighter strikes, and...and see the damage they were doing at quite a distance. Because what we were...in charge...what we were asked to do for the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Laos, starting in 1964 until 196...1974 or ‘73 or ‘74, (whatever time that they closed out of there) and the MAF was there and flying Christian Missionary Alliance workers and national pastors into the war area...war zones...or zones close by, where there were tribal people that were fleeing from the Communists. Endeavoring to find out where they were, to make sure that they got food and clothing, supplies, that any place where they were located for any period of time, we could get somebody in that could minister to them in...in a spiritual way.
SHUSTER: [unclear] contacting refugee camps or refugees
BERRY: Yeah, right, right, right. And...and so, being this, we were...were right in the thick of it. But when I would hear over the radio, and he knew of the attacks on the Plain of Jars and...and in other places in Laos and North Vietnam, you...you’d just kind of, you know, “Go...go get ‘em, you know, blast them out!” That...that sort of mentality. And before I had never really thought about that from...from my Christian point of view. “Is...is that the thing a Christian should be doing?” And...and...and I know that, on a continuum of...of...of a hawk on the right and a pacifist on the left, somewhere in between the two is where the truth is. But, I guess, my theology now is that...that God is in charge of history, and God is going to do what needs to be done and, in fact, is doing that, and because He is doing that, I don’t need to panic. I just need to live today by faith, in devotion, you know, appealing primarily, basically to His mercy and his grace. And...and then...then getting on with living and relating and...and serving. And...that if...if...if the Christians, to that extent, were willing to not take up arms, it might mean, you know, five million Christians have been killed, but maybe, certainly, you know, in...in that, God would...would bring...bring His will. Because you know if He was...while I think...I think I know if He’s here, He’s not running around with machine guns shooting people down. Now, then you have the aspect of defending your...your...your homeland and your...your...your wife and your children and your...your...your...your property. That’s...that is certainly another aspect of it. But somewhere the Christian church has and...and...and hopefully the American government has to have a...an attitude that trusts God to be the avenger. And how do we do that in a society when the majority of our society, you know, couldn’t conceive of that, and in the way they live and relate, you know, they get everything they can. And can we say as being twenty-five percent of the society, if we are that many, that we have to make the other seventy-five percent agree with us and lay down their arms and...and walk out in the name of Jesus, or not. So, it’s a problem, obviously. But my...my own...my own self, I have...I have gone from the training and the excitement, preparing...being prepared to go to war and to kill to now, you know, not...I would not. And knowing that the greater responsibility I have now would be to...would be in prayer and appealing to God and appealing to His mercy and His grace, that He manifests Himself in history, in the way that He is able...capable.
SHUSTER: You know, the Muslims say whenever they’re...when they’re in a situation of misery or suffering or conflict, “God is great. We know that he is over all.”
BERRY: Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.
SHUSTER: What...when you think back about your years in Wheaton after you’d come back after the war and were a student, what...what is the dominant memories in your mind?
BERRY: Well, I got married. I met Phyllis here. [coughs] And we got engaged. In fact, we had gone into Chicago. We skipped chapel the day of the great Wheaton Revival began when they stayed in chapel all day [in 1950]. So, we slipped out first thing after breakfast, went into Chicago on the L [the elevated trained that ran through the center of Chicago], and went down and put a down payment on a little ring and came back and, about 2:30 walked up to campus and...dead...we couldn’t...we...we really just couldn’t understand what had happened, you now, where everybody was. Well, we’re just very excited to find out that the revival was...was beginning. So we, you know, participated with it to the full from that point on. But, I was...I was anxious to...to get back...to...to...to get through my...my college training. I probably would have gone directly into MAF had it not been for my wife. She is very very much of a book person. And she desired very much to come back and to finish her education.
SHUSTER: So you knew her before...?
BERRY: Yeah, we met in a Spanish class.
SHUSTER: In your first half semester?
BERRY: Yeah, first half semester. And got engaged that next January, got married the next August. She came down to...to Tennessee, where I was in the University of Tennessee in a cadet training program. And then, she came back and finished out that semester at Wheaton and disregarded Dr. Edman’s and other’s advice and came out and followed me around as I went through my training in...in California. That meant....
SHUSTER: Why did they advise against it?
BERRY: Well, that...they felt that, you know, she should take the opportunity she had to...to get the training even though we...we were married. Well, of course, they didn’t want her to get married, and they felt, better to...the war is so uncertain, and so she...she came down. We did get married, and she stepped out of school then. [Tape recorder turned off and back on.]
SHUSTER: What was it like being a married student at Wheaton? Were their facilities then for married couples?
BERRY: No there weren’t. We perhaps were the...one of the first married students, and so we were somewhat of an oddity.
SHUSTER: This would have been in’45?
BERRY: Well, ‘46. Januar...February ‘46, we started back. And, in fact, at that point, we had two children. Kathy [Kathleen Helen] was born in February 2nd of ‘45, and Bill [Donald William] was born December the 3rd, 1945. So we were not only married, but we had two small children, which was very...very unusual. I don’t think there were any other married students with children. There may have been another married student or two on campus. So that just simply meant that we had to get our housing off campus someplace, and we were able to get a small trail...trailer and lived out on a Naperville Road with her.
SHUSTER: Now, with you both going to classes, how did you manage the children?
BERRY: Well, that was a...that was...took some coordination. We scheduled...at...at that point, I had two years of college credits, and my wife only had one, because she had done some additional study and some summer study. So, I would come to class for the first two classes, slip out of chapel a few minutes early, and drive the three miles out on Naperville Rd. She’d jump in the car without it being turned off. She would come in for her class, leave just a little bit early, and I would get back to my class a little bit late. And we made two...two trips, three trips a week, I think, like that. Through the whole...the whole...the whole thing.
SHUSTER: Was the administration or the faculty of help?
BERRY: Well, they...they presented no problems, whatsoever. Dr. Brookes was...was my...was a dean and the only person that acted as an advisor to me, and that was only on, you know, one or two occasions. I had a very close relationship with Harv Chrouser and Coach [Edward A.] Coray, through athletics of course. But we were allowed pretty much to, you know, just be married students and...and go to school. I worked with the athletic supply, became a very close friend with Gil Dodds. I had a...a car, and that enabled me to provide transportation for Gil and his track team, and...and there were no other college students at that point who had cars that I remember. Harold Mort did. So, we did a lot of driving. It...it was...studies became more, you know, I had a reason to study, and then I did, and I did...did reasonably well. So we both graduated and together. Two children, and my wife was pregnant with the third. So, at that point, I...I graduated in August of...of ‘48. And we stayed here, living in our trailer on Naperville Road. And in the previous year and a half, Moody Bible Institute, through interest of Paul Robinson, had wanted to begin a flight training program to train missionary pilots. So I worked with Paul, and we were looking through places where he could find his school. E. W. Hatcher Hatcher [see BGC Archives collection 377] , another military fellow who came back to Wheaton, and I were interested in getting a flight club started at Wheaton, so we could continue our flying and help some of the other fellows. And so we got a little Tayta [?]craft that Dr. [Paul] Wright financed, and we did the maintaining and set up the flight club. And we did that in conjunction with Moody. So Moody had really just begun its flight...its mechanic and its flight training in September of 1948. So that when I graduated...no, I think they started in January of ‘4..., something like that. But they had...they had one...one...one semester, two quarters of study and when I graduated. So I then participated through the institute and in their maintenance training program. I...I had my flying, so I didn’t need that part. And so we stayed here related to the...athletic program and...and I commuted into Wooddale [Moody airfield, about 20 miles west of the Chicago Loop], to their field for that. That mechanic training was so rudimentary and beginning that.... And the reason I stayed, rather than going directly to MAF at that point, was one of our first airplanes had gone to Mexico in 1946...‘47 and had an accident. And they realized the pilots probably should be mechanics as well. So, they asked if I’d not be willing to...to take another year to get my mechanical training. So I....
SHUSTER: You mentioned about your...well, about your years at Wheaton. Looking back on it from your experience in MAF, I’d like to ask you two questions. What proved particularly valuable to you in your line of work? And were there...was there...were there things which you wish had been offered or been available that would have been useful to you in your work?
BERRY: I think.... E. W. Hatcher and I were the only two early MAFs to...to have college degrees. And those...the fact that we had graduated from Wheaton, I’m sure for Hatch and also for me, was significant. It had meaning. Just for people knowing about that. Because Wheaton did have a good name. And it was...it was a...a benefit, just as recommendation. But more than that, the...the emphasis...the Bible training, the kind of fellowship that I remembered and experienced was...was very very helpful and was needful for me as a person.
SHUSTER: Why was that?
BERRY: Well, I...I...‘cause I...coming...having come from Colorado, where that sort of thing just was not...was not available, it was, you know, like apple pie. If you’ve ever tasted apple pie, you know what it is. And in this case, I think that emphasis, the...the...the council, the chapel teaching of Dr. [V. Raymond] Edman [president of the college] perhaps were the most important significant thing. I cannot say that I learned anything in the class except Dr. [George R.] Horner in...in...in anthropology said...began his session by writing on the board, “Man differs not in kind, only in degree.” My college...my time at Wheaton...to have had that concept put in my mind was worth it. Because the thing that I began experiencing was that the...the...the...the...the people who were ministering where we were living were...were...had been indoctrinated, not educated. And they simply were taking their indoctrination and now they were starting to giving it out. They...they...their faith was so enculturized and they didn’t realize it. But they...they were...they were endeavoring to preach an encultured faith. And....
SHUSTER: What do you mean an encultured faith?
BERRY: Well, if it was the church had the steeple, you go and have a steeple over there. If you have Sunday school at 9:00, you do...in Honduras, you have 9:00 Sunday school. Even though people can’t get there, you...you press them and force them to do that. And rather than...enabling them to come and to find the truth of Scripture, and...and...it’s an application to them in their situation, you see. You kind of make them “you be like us” and...and...and be little Christians like we are and then everything is fine. So I think that’s one of the...the big problems. And Dr. Horner was...that...that anthropology...Beginning Anthropology was...I remember nothing else other than that, but it was...was helpful. But I...I found myself, more than my colleagues that had not gone to college, or who had been Bible school-trained, open for other people in other ways, with more tolerance. And...and...I...I really can’t account for that.
SHUSTER: Could you give an example or illustration?
BERRY: Well, so many of the people that, you know...and meet Wheatonites today that are still, if I listen and talk to them for a little while, have the same mentality as what was being said back in Wheaton in 1948, ‘49. They haven’t changed. The...they’re the same. And somehow, you ha...you...you do change. You know, my own...my own pilgrim as...as a Christian has gone from that little Baptist church where the Word of God was read and...and taught and we...we did the right thing. And so that I knew about, and I knew the Bible stories, and I knew about salvation, but I had no personal application or implications to me. And then, in the Pentecostal church, that suddenly had...it was personalized. And...but it was personalized with a lot of emotion and...and vigor, and...and I had to kind of resist that, because that’s...I wanted the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but hey, with the baptism of the Holy Spirit, there’s going to come a changed life, and I saw a lot of people that were in a rut, just turning over and over, you know, and....
SHUSTER: Stay turning over and over and over in...?
BERRY: Well, they would get saved, and then they would go out and sin, and then they would get saved. You know, they had to continue be picking themselves up. And then so many of them pretty soon got disgusted. They just could no longer play the game. And they would just not be a Christian. It was easier. And...and so the teaching, which primarily was Calvinist, and...at this point, from my Assembly of God training, I was...I had just accepted the Arminian point of view, though nobody told me about that then. But when I got here, I realized that was the Arminian point of view, and I tried to defend it. But in...in...in my own Bible study, and in growing, and in some point in the service, the Lord, you know, gloriously one day showed me that...that...that I was saved, and being his son, I would not...I could not un-be his son. And whether...it was a great release and enabled me to live much more freely. And without the...the tension and the stress.
SHUSTER: You mentioned the chapel teaching of Dr. Edman.
SHUSTER: What was like that?
BERRY: Well, just, he had the gift of being able to take a biblical concept and...and present it to students that got their attention and applied to them, and they could make applications in the...in their lives.
SHUSTER: What were some of the ways he got your attention?
BERRY: Well, just, you know, the...the...I just remember him standing there, you know. Between his glasses, you could never quite see his eyes. And...in fact, we named our fourth child after him. Jack Edman. But he just impacted on our lives. His...his quietness. His...his obvious love for the Lord. The obvious affect of the Lord in his life...through his life to us. It...it showed through. It...it...it, you know, some...some of the faculty, you...you would see them, and they were driven, and they were scholarly, but they could have been anything, you see. And they were also Christian. But you would not have known it because they...they didn’t...they didn’t touch you in any way. But Dr. Edman could touch you, and...and, I remember, one or two times with him, privately, just the time, the ease, the calmness, and the ability to focus on me, and...and go away...immediately to go away encouraged and...and helped in a major way. So....
SHUSTER: You had said before that you were thinking about going directly from service to MAF. How did you first come in contact with MAF?
BERRY: Well, when the Lord spoke to me about using the airplane. I was...it was at a time that I was reading a book by Dr. Walter Montano, a converted Catholic priest who wrote Behind the Purple Curtain . And...from Col...he was a priest and converted in Colombia. So I had written to him inquiring if, after the war, he might be returned to Colombia and would there be any way that he would want to use the airplane in conjunction with any ministry he proposed. And he corresponded with me and encouraged me in that, though he at that point did not know exactly when he could go back because Columbia...well, he probably couldn’t have gone back to Colombia until ‘60, you see, because of the political religious situation down there. Then, at one base in Phoenix, Arizona, little Bible Baptist Church there, I believe it was, I heard somebody mention about this prayer group of Christian pilots that were trying to organize, hopefully to...to offer a service afterward, and I wrote in and joined on with them in...in prayer and association. So, when I came to Wheaton, Ed Jones, E.W. Hatcher, and myself had previous contact with MAF, that prayer fellowship, and Charlie Mellis, who became of the directors of...of early MAF, was a roommate of Bill Rayburn. Bill’s first year, before I came here. So, I knew Charlie casually. Charlie went on and became a...B-17 pilot, and I went on into fighter training. And so, just from that casual Wheaton contact, he was somebody I knew that was directly involved immediately after the war, and so that...that encouraged me.
SHUSTER: At what point, had you decided to become a missionary?
BERRY: Well, that...that chapel meeting when this gentleman, former missionary to the Netherlands, was appealing for two people to go back with him. And that’s when I...that was the first missionary I...I ever heard, and that was when I decided to be a missionary in...in the sense of being a missionary farmer or a missionary carpenter.
SHUSTER: When you...you attended Moody for mechanic or the airplane mechanic training.
SHUSTER: And when you graduated, then did you go directly to MAF?
BERRY: Yes. I...I...I stayed out in Moody for two quarters and then left there in March of ‘49 and went to California, and it’s located close by where MAF was in Los Angeles and applied to a mechanic training school there, Cal Flyers. So I then from...from May of...of ‘49 had, you know, weekly involvement with...with the fellows volunteering, doing things I could do to help them, attending all their prayer meetings, and...and working with some of the airplanes with them and, so that, when I got my MP rating [Motion Perception Rating, required for certification as a pilot], then MAF was ready, accepted us, and...and we were...went to Mexico for language study and then on to Honduras.
SHUSTER: What...what was the organization like in those days?
BERRY: Well, part of it was a...I’m here now to participate in the first committee meeting...board meeting for Gardner Ministries, which is a British mission to the Muslims, and they’re having their organizational meeting tomorrow in Oak Park, and I’ve been asked to convene this committee and to...to...to get some structure set up here so that they can have approval and authorization, you know, for...for working here legally in the United States, and.... What was your question? I...I got sidetracked.
SHUSTER: I was asking what was the organization like in the early years.
BERRY: Okay. So MAF is very much like Gerdner [?] Ministries. A lot of vision. A lot of idea. A few people. No money. No structures. And, you know, really depending on the grace of God [chuckles]. The...the five people who primarily were used to...who out of many people, of which I was one, stepped in and committed themselves or were able to commit themselves and did the founding and getting MAF up and working were: Jim Truxton, Grady Parrott, Charlie Mellis, Betty Greene, and Hobey Lowrance. They then became the executive committee. They became the...the first board members, and they started looking for others who were pastors and others to add to that board. But for twenty-five years, they pretty much carried that responsibility. And...the rest of us that came in then were...were coming in to go to the field to...to...to begin the work, to begin doing what they didn’t know what was to be done. It was out there. They had ideas. But they really didn’t know. And...so that, right at that point, a great gap, you know, was...was...was started between...between that executive...that...that five person leadership and the field, the other persons that came within MAF, they were jealous of their decisions, not jealous, but they were new, and they had to begin making them. They had...they were getting experience in...in making new contacts and doing what they were doing. They were dividing up the responsibility - fiscally, strategically, operationally, personnel-wise, etc. etc, whereas those of us who came in then went out and began building our expertise in a whole different area of...of operations. And....
SHUSTER: So were there disagreements then between them and you?
BERRY: No, there weren’t...there weren’t disagreements, but...but we were kind of kept in the dark. We felt...we felt their authority. When theoretically they had no more authority than we did, you see. And they didn’t want to feel that they had more authority. They...they felt responsibility. So, we...we...none of us became good decision-makers, because we gave up those fifteen, twenty years of making decisions, because we...we wanted to do what they wanted to do, we wanted to please them, we wanted to do what MAF was supposed to do, and we were looking for them to tell us what to do. And...and they didn’t know that much what else to do. So, it was...it was...it was difficult. There...it was unique. We were all so fully invested that...that there’s almost no...no...no loss. When you look at the first twenty years of MAF membership, there was absolutely...almost no attrition.
SHUSTER: Why...why was that?
BERRY: Because everybody was so fully invested. They invested in leadership and expanding and trying to get the money to us and develop systems. And we were so busily invested out there doing it and wanting to be there doing it that...that you could have cut our salaries in half or impose, you know, ridiculous things on us and then we would have accepted it, you know.
SHUSTER: What was the salary when you started MAF?
BERRY: I went...I first went to Mexico in 1950 with three children, and our monthly was $155.
SHUSTER: And how...how was the money raised? How was support gotten?
BERRY: Well, that was up to us to do, through....
BERRY: Through churches and friends. And...and what came in came to you. So it was kind of difficult. There was no education funds. There was no insurance. There was no retirement. There was no...no nothing. You just...just went and did it. And those were great days, when I look back on them. I...I...we were asked to go to Mexico City that first summer of ‘50 to do some language study for three months, then to come back for the fall of final preparation before going. And we had enough pledged by a little church, we thought, to take us down there and to bring us back. Well, when we got down there and went through the three months, but coming back, we were very short of funds. And...we recognized this, so we began praying, and we had read about George Mueller, you know, and we said, “Well, Lord, if...if you’re going to be with us in our missionary career, you’re gonna...we want you to prove yourself to us now.” We’d never tell anybody what our financial needs are.” And when it came down to the morning that we left to drive nineteen miles to come back to Moline, Illinois, my wife’s home, from Mexico City, little jeep, trailer, we only had ten dollars. And we set out on that trip, and as we drove away, one of our friends said, “Hey, take me by the post office, ‘cause we said we were going by the post office, hoping a letter would be there with some money. And as we left him off at the post office, he said, “Oh, by the way, I almost forgot,” and he gave us a check for fifteen dollars. And so, we were able to get into Texas to a little mission that we had known about, and they fed us and gave us a gift, and that got us to Dallas, Texas, and another friend fed us and gave us a gift and got us to Kansas City, where my brother was, and he fed us and gave us a gift, and [laughs] we got into Moline, you know, absolutely broke. But...but the Lord did provide. So, we had a lot of...lot of learning and good experiences.
SHUSTER: Would you...after your language training, you went down to Honduras. What were you being sent down there to do? And why Honduras? What was the operation?
BERRY: Well, Honduras...the first operation MAF had was in Mexico, where we had been asked to fly for the Wycliffe Bible Translators, to get them into their jungle camp and to supply a couple of their tribal bases. Then, the s...the second was working with the Presbyterians, on...just on the other side of the isthmus, the other side of Mexico. And that was with the Presbyterians. Then, while was getting under way, Wycliffe in Peru asked for MAF to come down and to provide the same kind of service that we were providing there. That endeavor highlighted a theological, not a psycho...what’s the term? Hold on.... [pauses]
BERRY: Yeah, ideological difference between Cam Townsend [W. Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators] and the MAF leadership. Cam Townsend wanted us not just to come with one airplane and one pilot, but several. And we said, “Hey, no, you know. We don’t have that much resources [sic]. Besides, one airplane can do it.” And he put so much pressure on us to do it his way that we...that our leadership finally said, “Well, hey, look, if that’s where you want to go, you have to do it yourself.” And Mr. [Lawrence J.] Montgomery, who was flying for us, went on loan to them as a pilot. In fact, he married one of their Wycliffe workers and became the first JAARS pilot. And...and then we retired back to...to working in...to Mexico and then did a survey of Colombia and a survey of Honduras, and Honduras opened up the quickest.
SHUSTER: What...what was the reason for MAF wanting to just have one pilot and one plane?
BERRY: Well, at that time, we, you know...it was hard for us to come up with more than one pilot and one plane. You know, frankly, that...that had a lot to do with it. Second was the development of our own philosophy of...of...of ministry was that we’d rather have one family in one airplane working to capacity than two airplanes and three families, because once you get more than one airplane, your...your...your personnel doubles up on you. And...that...that...it’s...it’s better to deal with overworked than...than underworked people in terms of the morale. And I think we found that true.
SHUSTER: What happens if the plane had a breaks down?
BERRY: Well, you fix it. Of course, in those days, we could fix them pretty quick. They were bailing wire and chewing gum. You had a little welding machine, and then you could beat the thing out and tube and metal. Oh, we certainly had come to...to modify our idea, and then you look at our staffing now, and you would say, “Hey, we’re...we’re more of the...of the nature of...of...of JAARS [Jungle Aviation and Radio Service, the aviation arm of Wycliffe Bible Translators]. But...[long pause] in...in those days, there wasn’t that many missionaries. And...and it was hard to come up with the support systems necessary to keep those airplanes, so it was...it was a process of development.
SHUSTER: Were you the first MAF pilot to go to Honduras?
SHUSTER: What exactly was involved in starting MAF services in Honduras. What is the first you do?
BERRY: Okay. Well, the first thing that we did was...was to do a survey.
SHUSTER: Which means...?
BERRY: Taking one of our people and renting an airplane, doing whatever necessary, to...to go to a country and, with the use of that airplane and in consultation with the missionaries, do a...a survey (a feasibility study, I guess you would call it) so that we went with some assurance that...that there was a reason for being there, that we wouldn’t be there and...and just be sitting. And in those days, we pretty much needed three hundredhours of flying to...to justify putting an airplane and a pilot in a...in a country.
SHUSTER: Three hundred hours of flying a month?
BERRY: A year.
SHUSTER: A year.
BERRY: A year. That was...that was much pretty much the minimum. We figure if a plane is flying five...six hundred hours a year, that’s really is a very very busy time for one pilot, one family.
SHUSTER: We’ll stop here awhile and get a new tape.
BERRY: Okay. Okay.
END OF TAPE