This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Debbie Dortzbach (CN 402, 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. 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 was made by Christian Sawyer and was completed in July 2001.
Collection 402, T1. Interview of Debbie Dortzbach by Paul Ericksen, September 27, 1988.
ERICKSEN: ...for the Missionary Sources Collection of the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College. This interview took place at the home of the Dortzbachs in Decatur, Georgia, on September 27, 1988, at 1:45 pm. [recorder stopped and restarted] Well Debbie, I wonder if you could just start by telling me when and where you were born.
DORTZBACH: [laughs] I was born in California, 1949, while my dad was completing his last year of seminary at Fuller. And I was one of two. I have a twin brother. He was...he subsequently is handicapped resulting from injury at birth. And.... In God's wisdom and control, He's enabled me to have all my facility, but certainly my relationship with my twin brother has had a profound impact since birth in my life.
ERICKSEN: Now, how...it must have been a year or two after that that you moved then.
ERICKSEN: Where would that have been to?
DORTZBACH: We moved to New Jersey when my dad took his first pastorate. And so I never really grew up in California. [sound of traffic] Most of my childhood was spent in New Jersey, in a rural area, and then in eastern Canada and Pennsylvania.
ERICKSEN: And what kind of a church...what denomination or non-denomination was your father a pastor in?
DORTZBACH: I guess like many recent seminary graduates, my father was a idealist and sought to have an impact in a, what was fast becoming, a very liberal denomination, the American Baptist denomination. He was a sole conservative voice in that area for...for nine years and struggled a great deal in that church. But he knew that that was where God wanted him to be, to be that light in that dark area. So that was pretty much a Baptist background was my upbringing.
ERICKSEN: How much...now would that have been from the time that he finished Fuller, nine years from there or nine years...?
DORTZBACH: Yeah, nine years from there.
ERICKSEN: Okay, okay. What do you remember of...when you say that he struggled, how did you see that at home?
DORTZBACH: It wasn't real apparent to me during those years. I...certainly some of our family needs were very apparent. There was never enough money to go around. There were new children coming into the home often. Those things were obvious. My childhood I remember as being very happy and content with a lot of freedom outside and a sense of well-being in the home. So what was going on inside my dad, I never knew. In fact, I was totally surprised when he announced one day that we were leaving, because I could never understand why we were leaving such a happy place to me.
ERICKSEN: And is that when you moved to Canada?
DORTZBACH: Yes. Well, we...we...we spent an interim year when my dad was kind of seeking the next step and he was teaching school in Pennsylvania and then we moved to eastern Canada. And he was with the United Baptist denomination there. And that was, I guess, my first cross-cultural experience [laughs] to a small extent.
ERICKSEN: What was that like?
DORTZBACH: Very different. You know, for the first time I had a label; I was a Yankee. But people were very warm and receptive. There were different ways of doing things which I could pick out even in childhood. There was a...a kind of back to basics approach. I no longer felt like we were the poorest in the community because there were a lot of others that struggled a great deal. I...it was a larger church so I was somebody, you know, in that church. I was the pastor's kid and there was a lot of social opportunity and opportunity to advance in other ways. So I...I had [pauses] a very enjoyable time in Canada. And I'm very proud of that part of my heritage. It was also the time when I learned the other perspective to the American Revolution [laughs], settling where Loyalists settled. [airplane sound]
ERICKSEN: Can you talk about the religious environment or the spiritual environment of your home when you were growing up?
DORTZBACH: I always knew that the Lord was the focal point of our home. I think...I have memories of interrupting my dad in his study which was in our home always, while he was kneeling in prayer, and that could be almost any day. I...I could find him in that...in that position. My parents were very active in the church, both of my parents, and so I saw that external relationship that they had with the Lord in the home. But more than that I think there was a perception that...that I remember from...from earliest times of my parents always referring to what the Lord would have done or would this have been pleasing to Him or of His control. And there were a lot of difficult things in our home which couldn't be explained, but that my parents accepted with...with real peace. And...and I knew where that peace came from even though I couldn't understand it. Where it came from was always obvious to me. Of course, through correction and discipline and all of those things, the Lord's guidance was brought to...to bear in a practical way in my life. Family devotions were on and off, I think, probably due to a lot of other [pauses] incringements [sic] of time and so forth, but they were there nonetheless. [sound of traffic]
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me a little about your...what your dad and your mom were like? Sounds like your father was determined. [Dortzbach laughs] He stuck it out in the American Baptists.
DORTZBACH: Yeah. He was determined.
ERICKSEN: What else was he...?
DORTZBACH: He really was. My...my dad is not a...an aggressive, pushy type of person at all. I think he has a sensitive spirit and an intellectual mind. He...he was always reading. He was always in tune to what was going on in the world which subsequently had a lot of impact in my life, I think. From the earliest times, I was brought into contact with more than just my home or my town and that was largely through my dad and my mom. My father had some emotional struggles that weren't real apparent to me as a child, but I grew to underst...appreciate more in my teen years, which undoubtedly had a lot of influence in his life, but not in a disruptive way in the family. He was never one to invoke a lot of followers or, you know, be a pacesetter in any sense, but I think his teaching was...was deep and well thought through in a biblical sense. So he aspired high. I...I guess he would have felt like he didn't achieve all that much in the pastorate, but I don't think his achievements can be measured in human terms. My mother [pauses]... I can't describe my mother really. [laughs] You know, to have raised nine kids, to have had a mentally-retarded son, to have had twins three times, to be a pastor's wife, to have an open home with anybody.... I mean, there were drunkards vomiting on our living room floor. I remember that from earliest days. My father would bring people home and...and they would be with us in our home. To cope with so much, to cope with criticism in the church that was not deserved and still be victorious in it is...is amazing, amazing evidence of God's grace and strength in her life.
ERICKSEN: Was she a quiet woman, an outgoing woman?
DORTZBACH: She wasn't quiet. No, she expressed herself and she did that a lot of ways. She did it through writing. She had several things published in Christian magazines. She did it through friendships and people that were in our home. She did it through music. She was very involved musically. I guess I kind of felt like our family was probably not really a burden, but a reason that my mother couldn't develop other gifts that she had, but it didn't seem to bother her, you know. She knew that those gifts were there and there would be a way to use them in her children or in her home and eventually later in her life which she did. So my...my mom continues to be a real example to me even as I get older.
ERICKSEN: What's it like growing up with eight brothers and sisters?
DORTZBACH: [laughs] I think only someone else with a large family could really understand [laughs]. It was very good. It really was. I think it...it.... You know, whether I wanted to learn to be unselfish or not, I had to. [both laugh] There was only so much to go around and that had to be shared whatever it was: attention, love, material things, bedroom space, hand-me-down clothes, whatever. So I...I had to. There wasn't a choice in that. I had to learn responsibility early because I was the oldest of all of them and my family was so busy and involved in the church. A lot of times there were a lot of responsibilities that were laid on my lap, to babysit, to clean, to do a lot of things. So, I think I learned to live without a lot of things and be very content. There were times I resented it, the responsibility was too great, [pauses] and the needs overwhelming and the opportunities not always there. One example might be that we had a piano and I loved taking piano lessons and then when we moved away from Canada we couldn't have a piano anymore so I couldn't pursue that any further. And that was a disappointment, but one that you adjust to, get used to. So there were...there were limitations in a sense, but I feel that the opportunity of growing up in a large ho...family and of learning to give and share and be responsible, for me, outweighed the limitations. I'm not sure all my brothers and sisters would say the same thing today. It may have had to do with the pecking order; it may have had to do with what was going on in the...what stressers there were in the family at the time they were growing up. [whistling in the background] But I...I know we would all say that we...we appreciate each other and we're thankful for the...overall, thankful for the background we've had.
ERICKSEN: What about your feelings about being a pastor's kid?
DORTZBACH: [laughs] Well to me that wasn't...that wasn't a liability. It never was. I...I know we probably lived in a glass house, but I wasn't criticized. Now, later on, [pauses] there were...there were times in our family when other of my siblings were quite severely and they did resent it. [pauses] I'm not sure why my experience was that much different. I...I think times were changing too. What was...what.... I was sort of along the norm and I hadn't really entered into the '60s or '70s where there are a lot of cultural and social changes going on which young people had to...to face and my brothers and sisters, some of them, reacted to that. So they felt like they were watched keenly and that was difficult. But I...I'm very grateful I had the opportunity to be exposed to more than just my family through my father's position and [pauses] I never...I never did resent being a pastor's kid.
ERICKSEN: [sound of traffic] When did you move a...? You referred at some point that you left...? When did you leave Canada then?
DORTZBACH: Okay, we left Canada when I was in ninth grade...
DORTZBACH: ...and we moved back to New Jersey and that was a very difficult time in our family because my father was suffering from some mental difficulties and my mother had to go back to work and I still had a toddler brother and I was in high school. So...and we had nothing; we...we lived on very, very little at that time and I shared a bedroom with four sisters and it was really rugged those years, but...but strengthening years, you know. And our family pulled through it. We all pulled through it. And it was only by the cooperation within the family that we did. We also didn't have a strong church base then. Very small, weak church we...we were attending at that time although my dad was not the pastor. So I think all those things contributed to some of the difficulties. I didn't have a...a real active youth group or.... And I went to a small, but secular high school. So they were stretching years. That's one reason that Wheaton was so exciting to me. It opened up a whole new vista right after that.
ERICKSEN: Now I noticed that both your folks had been at Wheaton.
ERICKSEN: What...as you were growing up or when you got to high school, what were you hearing about Wheaton?
DORTZBACH: Oh, I always heard about Wheaton. I...I found my father's old P.E. [physical education] muscle shirt, you know, and we enjoyed thumbing through the old yearbooks and.... Wheaton was very, very precious to my parents and...and those experiences were passed down to us often, whether it was my dad climbing the flag pole or, you know, the various other traditions. So I...I always heard about it. I think I always wanted to go to Wheaton, I guess because I heard what a great place it was through my parents. And I didn't tend to be the type of kid that would do just the opposite of their parents because they kind of wanted to stretch and be more independent. I...that wasn't part of my personality. However, I don't want to give the impression that I was perfect either because I did have a period of rebellion in my life and it was in high school. Do you want me to go into that? [laughs]
DORTZBACH: I'm not very proud of it, of course, but during my senior year I got involved with a...a foreign student and became very interested in him and allowed that relationship to...to begin dictating things to me. I think it was the first time, for me, that my Christian principles were challenged in a direct and painful way to sort through because that fellow was an agnostic. He could rationalize a lot and I had never had to deal with that before and I allowed my heart [phone rings] to...to be changed. [tape stopped and restarted] But it was also an opportunity for me to see God's control in my life, even when I was against Him or struggling to find myself. And that became very, very obvious. The Lord kept me from destroying myself, from...from putting my heart in a position where I couldn't get it back again, or my body. And...and He continued to direct me. And I...I have no doubt at all that the Lord was in control even during those years. And I...I didn't really go into my own conversion experience very much yet, but before I really faced those difficult teenage years, I remember praying that God would protect me in them. I mean, when I was about eleven and twelve years old that was in my prayer and God really answered that.
ERICKSEN: Well, my next question was going to be about your spiritual pilgrimage while you were...
ERICKSEN: ...growing up. Can you talk a little more about that? Including maybe people who were significant on that.
DORTZBACH: Okay. The most significant were my parents by far and...because their relationship to the Lord was lived out every day and that was modeled before me. I was encouraged to evaluate my own life personally before God at an early age. And my parents tell the story that I raised my hand in a tent meeting at the age of three and became a Christian, had a changed life, etc. Well, I...I do remember raising my hand at a tent meeting, but I really will not...be able to say at what point the Lord really became my Lord. It was a gradual process for me, I think. And...but I do remember very clearly one time when I was maybe six or seven having an overwhelming sense of guilt and sin and hiding myself in the closet and begging God to forgive me and I didn't leave that closet until He had. And I knew He had through the work of the Lord Jesus in my life. So, it wasn't just a process of gradual assimilation, it was a very real intervention that the Lord had through His Spirit in my life from an early age. And it did progress, I mean, gradually through learning more about Him and through experiences and it still, of course, is a pilgrimage.
ERICKSEN: What were your first impressions of Wheaton?
DORTZBACH: Oh, I...I loved Wheaton. [laughs] I was so happy to be there. It...it was a breaking point for me. Now, I know that Wheaton, for some, is just the opposite, a...a new sense of freedom and independence from home, but actually I was leaving that rebellion behind and it was a new start. I felt immediately accepted. I felt comfortable with my friends and roommates and people at...in good old Williston [campus dorm]. And a lot of my years at Wheaton were influenced by Women's Glee [music club]. That was a kind of discipleship opportunity there for real growth. So that influenced me a great deal. The studies were tough. I...I wasn't quite prepared for [laughs] college-level work, I think. I had to mature in that and searched very heavily to evaluate my goals and career goals because I found some courses very difficult, but I did find the spiritual opportunity for growth so prevalent and I took advantage of that. I think...I think God really used Wheaton in my life to mature me and to prepare me for other things that were coming.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things did you get involved in that facilitated that?
DORTZBACH: I already mentioned Women's Glee and that had a great impact. Later on when I was kidnaped, I remembered some of the words of a lot of the anthems we had sung and they...they really ministered to me, such things as "Cease your bitter weeping, holy host of Jesus." We had sung that. Psalm Thirteen we had sung. And so they were...they were ingrained on my mind and in my life. Francis Schaeffer came to Wheaton while I was there and I could still picture him on that vast platform in Edman Chapel with mounting crescendos saying, "Keep on, keep on, keep on," and there I was [later during her captivity] in the midst of these soldiers being held hostage and that rang through my ears. So those experiences God definitely had a purpose in. Another one would have been just mingling with other students and, you know, the late-night talks and the...the deep sharing that Christians can have together when you're of like mind. And the struggles too were there. The...I got involved in teaching in a Sunday school for special kids and obviously because of my own background with my twin brother there was an interest there, but I really grew to love those kids and had an opportunity for outreach there. So....
ERICKSEN: Now, was that right on campus or...?
DORTZBACH: Yes, we met in Alumni Gym and Dr. Baptista and his wife, Martha, had actually started it and then slowly it was gaining momentum and we had quite a few kids and we.... It was really a neat opportunity to...to reach out to them. I don't how much got across and I guess...I guess there were early seeds planted even there of, "The result of obedience to the Lord is not in your hands, Debbie. It's in My hands. But what I want from you is to follow Me and to...to present Me to others and to be faithful in that." I...I...I can't tell you that all those kids came to faith in Christ or that they even understood, but they had a right to hear, they had a right to...to know about the Lord and...and that in His time, in His way, in His will He would help them understand as much as they needed to understand and that was important to...to realize at that point in my life.
ERICKSEN: Had you been working with groups like that before or was that your first experience?
DORTZBACH: That was my first experience in that. I had never really worked with the handicapped before that time, apart from my own family. It...it was a tough time at Wheaton too, I should say. That was when Wheaton began to exert...exert some of its wings, certain Wheaton students. It was the first time that there were sit-ins. I'll never forget the night that the Wheaton police came in...in riot gear [laughs] and crossed the campus with their...in full gear with clubs and I.... It was...the difficult years of the '60s, the late '60s during the Vietnam War, and everyone was a bit hyper and it...it touched Wheaton a bit too. So, we weren't totally sheltered from everything, even though we weren't Kent State [university in Ohio known for student deaths during riots in 1970].
ERICKSEN: Who were your favorite professors?
DORTZBACH: Well, Ellen....
ERICKSEN: Or maybe your favorite classes?
DORTZBACH: Yeah, Ellen Thompson wasn't a professor, but by far she was one of the most influential people and she was the director of Women's Glee at that time. I had a lot of respect for Dr. [Neal] Brace in chemistry because he suffered through chemistry with me. He didn't just pass me off as a dumb, insignificant person and I...you know, I was in that class with a lot of really keyed-up intellectuals, pre-med and the whole bit and...and I just wasn't that caliber, but he...that didn't matter to him. He still spent time with me. So those are particularly some of the vivid experiences I recall.
ERICKSEN: Now, how much of a pre-med track did you need to be on? On your application, I think, you had indicated an interest in being a medical doctor.
DORTZBACH: Uh-huh. I did and chemistry taught me otherwise. [both laugh] I took biology and chemistry at Wheaton. I...I did fine in biology, but chemistry and...and those pure sciences was really a struggle and I had to come to grips with that, that even if I studied till, you know, late hours and all weekend I wasn't going to do it. So I began to change my thinking then and I used to think that nursing was inferior to medicine. I didn't want to entertain that. I wanted to achieve and I wanted to go big places and unfortunately Wheaton hasn't had a baccalaureate nursing program. So I wasn't really entertaining that idea for a long time, but then I learned about a cooperative opportunity at Columbia so it became more of an option for me.
ERICKSEN: Before we move to Columbia, what kind of emphasis on missions was at Wheaton while you were there?
DORTZBACH: Well, the SMP [Student Missionary Project] was always there and reporting back. Oh, one other experience I forgot to mention that did have a big im...impact on me was I was in the chapel when Dr. Edman [Dr. V. Raymond Edman, president of Wheaton College, 1941-1965] died. In fact, it was the first chapel that we had in the beginning of the year. And [pauses] it was amazing to see...hear that man talking about being in the presence of the King and then being there right away. That...that was very striking to me. Later on when I was face to face with Hailie Selassie [king of Ethiopia], of whom Dr. Edman was talking at the time, I thought about that whole experience and what he had said. But there was the SMP. There were a lot of talk about Urbana, the missions conference [sponsored by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship every three years at the University of Illinois in Urbana, Illinois], and that was always before us. It was talked up a great deal. And I don't recall really talking to too many missionaries coming through. It was more with students that I really had conversa...and, of course, with Chaplain Evans [sic, Evan Welsh]. You know, he was always very mission-minded. And I did have the opportunity to meet with him personally sometimes.
ERICKSEN: What about exposure to missionaries when you were growing up, missionaries coming to the church and all? Did you have contact then?
DORTZBACH: Uh-huh. There was contact. It was sporadic, but it was definitely there. Missions did play a big role in our home. We were always praying for missionaries. We...we knew them by name. We knew particular needs. We knew their countries. And I was...I remember being very impressed by pictures, slides that I saw as a child. I also remember the Biafran War [Nigerian civil war, 1967-1970] when it was going on in Nigeria and looking at pictures in Look or Time magazine and being really overwhelmed by that need. And I think God used that in my life to impress me that my life needed to count for him and there was a lot of need in the world that He could be preparing me for. So it was...it was even beyond missionaries where a world perspective began to take place. I think it was even through exposure in magazines and...and television, my family, a lot of ways.
ERICKSEN: When did you start thinking about leaving Wheaton?
DORTZBACH: That was a very painful process. I did not want to leave Wheaton at all, but I knew that continuing there wouldn't give me what I really wanted so [pauses] I guess I began applying to Columbia and to nursing programs, to several different ones, in the late winter of '69 and finally made the decision in that spring to leave. But it was difficult. I really wanted to stay on. I hated to get out of the cocoon.
ERICKSEN: What were...what were your impressions of Karl? [Dortzbach laughs] I mean, he talks...you talk a little bit about it in the book how he was pursuing and...
ERICKSEN: ...not being noticed and that sort of thing.
DORTZBACH: My early impressions of Karl were...were not very favorable. But I don't blame Karl for that. I...I really do blame myself. I was naive in my expectations of what I wanted in a man and, you know, if he could be the...the greatest jock on campus or.... For me, it...it would have been someone in Men's Glee [music club], you know, could really sing well and...and Karl didn't meet any of those criteria. He was short and sort of impulsive and aggressive in wanting to talk and I...I was just turned o...turned off by some of his mannerisms. But because he pursued the relationship quite a bit and I kept on refusing it, he finally resorted to coming to the Sunday school where I was teaching. [both laugh] I'm not sure he had the purest of motives. And through that Sunday school experience, I guess, some of those preconceived motio...notions began to be torn or stripped away and I began to see him as he...as he was in a deeper way and my own understanding of...of what I needed in a husband became more apparent and I began to see it in him. So that was a process too. And we...we became good friends. We did a lot together. We...we talked a great deal. I think that's...I think Wheaton's a great place to really meet people and...and get to know one another as friends. So through that process then, not really through a romantic relationship at all, I began to appreciate who he was. And that was...that ember was fanned and nurtured then through our separation after Wheaton.
ERICKSEN: When did you start thinking about actually being a missionary?
DORTZBACH: I really don't know. I know that it was early than I...that I talked about it and thought. By early, I mean even eight or nine years old. So I...I really don't discredit children that say, "I want to be a missionary when I grow up." I think they certainly don't know all that it entails and...and God may lead them in a very different direction. And I have no false ideas that missionaries are super-spiritual people and that everybody should be one overseas. But at the same time I think God can implant that desire early in an individual be...because He really did in me. It's just that He brought me through a number of experiences to confirm that. And it wasn't just a kind of lightning bolt experience that meant I needed to become a missionary.
ERICKSEN: Now, when you.... You graduated from Columbia and Karl graduated from Georgia State.
ERICKSEN: You got married that sum...the following summer. Is that right?
ERICKSEN: And then...what happened then?
DORTZBACH: We were married just two weeks after I graduated and then Karl went...was accepted and we started...he started at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. And during that time I was the wage-earner, but also gaining some experience in public health, nursing, which was my love. And I chose to work in an inner-city situation in...in Philadelphia. So I worked there for two years while Karl was at seminary.
ERICKSEN: Now, why did you choose public health?
DORTZBACH: For a lot of reasons. I...I guess...I guess I appreciate interacting in the health field in an environment where people really are: in their homes, in their families, seeing them in their total perspective, not just in isolated hospital room. And I also felt that public health gave me more freedom to...to really delve deeper into people's needs and...and search out answers that involve the whole man. I wasn't so restricted by time or people around or whatever. Plus I felt the need to really get involved with people in a preventative way, before illness struck or before complications arose. So there was opportunity in public health to impact in a preventative sense...
DORTZBACH: ...with people. And I love the community.
ERICKSEN: Any in particular experiences while you were in Philadelphia that stand out?
DORTZBACH: There were many. Many, many experiences in Philadelphia. I...I guess, one of the.... Two really do stand out. One was a child abuse situation where I had to get quickly involved and [pauses] it really tore me up to...to see that in actuality and...and not have all the answers, either for the mother or the children. To find children that had been strapped to beds for days, you know, upstairs and.... Or to have children, you know, right here in America, greet me at the front door with a handful of uncooked macaroni which was their only meal and say, "Mommy's not home." That's what our inner cities are like. And I know that...that the only real answer is a changed life, you know, from the inside out. And that's tough to break through in that community and.... But the Lord did it. And so the other really outstanding experience to me was a changed life that God [pauses] was pleased to allow me to...to see in a woman that had been a lesbian, she had been a child abuser, she had been abused herself. She was really rock-bottom, but the Lord found her and saved her and completely transformed her life. So those two experiences really stood out during that time that...that the...the needs are great, but the Savior is greater.
ERICKSEN: Where were you going to church in Philadelphia?
DORTZBACH: For awhile we were going to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in New Life in Jenkintown which ministered to us a great deal in terms of body life and discipleship and prayer. We also attended a Bible Fellowship church where we were more involved in ministry during those years.
ERICKSEN: Now just to back up a little bit, can you describe the process, I...what I gather from Karl, started at Urbana thinking in terms of short term?
DORTZBACH: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Yes. I guess you could call our pilgrimage to overseas. [airplane sound] It...it really did begin in a more focused way at Urbana. And moreso for Karl than for me. I...I knew I was interested in missions all along. Karl wasn't so sure. So Urbana tended to broaden his vision or give him opportunity to see that perhaps God could use his gifts overseas. So that exposure was very exciting and it was even more exciting to see the Lord bringing us together in that decision to be...to be united in that desire to serve him overseas. And I had to step back and let...let God do that work in Karl's life. I knew that...that he was God's choice for me for life. Whether it would be in the pastorate or overseas I wasn't sure, although my heart was...was really overseas. So.... But Urbana and...and the subsequent months afterwards of talking, reflecting, and also John Stott's [British pastor, author, lecturer] messages again were very, very influential to me during that time and later because he dealt in the passages in [the Gospel of] John with the high priestly prayer and...and the Lord used those...have used those messages over and over in my life. So Urbana was a beginning of a lot of open doors.
ERICKSEN: And then in '73...
ERICKSEN: ...you went to Ethiopia for the year.
ERICKSEN: What else happened in [both laugh] Ethiopia besides getting kidnaped?
DORTZBACH: Besides getting kidnaped? A lot happened in Ethiopia. We...we were exposed to mission life, to living in a different culture, to testing out our gifts for overseas living, to maturing our spirituality, our...in our walk with the Lord was tested. I think inter-missionary relationships [pauses] were certainly exposed to us and we became a part of all that. I think some of the romanticism of missions faded, but some of the reality and some of the opportunity grew as the Lord confirmed that He had gifted us and...and...and been preparing us for future work overseas too. It really was a time of confirmation. I...I came face to face with desperate need in...in health fields, as well...as well as spiritual need. And the oppression of some cultures toward Christianity became very evident, especially when you began to see some melting in the Muslim woman's life only to find that it was repressed again when she got home to her husband and couldn't even think about becoming a Christian or at least making an outward stand. So all of that was very new to me and opened up a burden that God used and continues to use.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things confirmed for you that you and Karl should be in cross-cultural ministry?
DORTZBACH: Well, some of it had to do with just liking it. I...I mean that may sound very unspiritual, but it...it was something we enjoyed tremendously and...and wanted to pursue. Another part was [sound of traffic] a sense of belonging that our gifts were used and began to bear some fruit even though it may have been minimal. Getting along with fellow missionaries was another issue that [sound of traffic] tended...tended to confirm that. Language was not. Language was hard for us and it continues to be, but I don't think that's the only criteria and it can be overcome. We just had to put a lot more effort into it. Observing mission families and anticipating our own tended...and exploring options, tended to do that. And to see how God was moving in His church, to...to have the opportunity to really be one with people so different from yourself because you are in the body of Christ was exciting and another confirmation for us.
END OF TAPE