Billy Graham Center
Collection 417 - Charles Oliver Springer. T4 Transcript
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the fourth part of the oral history
interview of Charles Oliver "Dick" Springer (CN 417, T4) 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.
Chinese place names are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according
to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing," if that is how
the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which would be understood were
spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliteration
form to which it corresponds.
... 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 Bob Shuster and Jeff Aernie and was completed in November 2004.
Collection 417, T4. Interview of Charles Oliver "Dick" Springer by Paul Ericksen, June 19,
ERICKSEN: This is a continuation of an interview with Dick Springer by Paul Ericksen on June
nineteenth. It is now 1:15 p.m. Well, we've talked about...we've gotten all the way up to your
leaving China at the...near the end of World War II. I guess you came back in 1947. You were
in China for a few more years. Where were you stationed when you came back?
SPRINGER: We came back to work...I went to a...I went to Seattle [in 1951] for a while as a pastor for
five or six years, because Mao Zedong was kicking people out [of China] and had he known that
I would be going to Tai..Taiwan where his enemy ran things...he wouldn't let any more out.
They [the Communist government] didn't want anyone going to...to Chiang Kai-shek's area. So
we didn't go to Taiwan for a while. We stood by and a way opened to go to Taiwan. And we
were there five or six years. I was a pastor. And then the way opened to go and I could do that.
ERICKSEN: Now did you...when you left China in 1951, did you then leave the mission. Or
what was your status with CIM at that point?
SPRINGER: It was...that I would come under the management of and support of the
Presbyterian Church USA. I joined that group there. I was always a member of that
SPRINGER: In...in the a presbytery in another part of the state. This required shifting into a
different presbytery but it was the Seattle one. So I was there. I'm still a member of that one.
ERICKSEN: And then did you need to reapply to...
ERICKSEN: ...CIM? Was your application process....how was it different?
SPRINGER: Well, they knew me, knew whether they wanted me or not. And it was in the best
interest of us that we joined when we did, in that to have a continuing relationship and a pension
SPRINGER: ...that would be necessary that we identify with a mission about that time, which
we were able to do. And it was good for all concerned. Then in Taiwan we had numbers of
kinds of activity, starting with working Tai-nan ( Nan means south), the southern part of the state
or the province. And I was attempting to meet an emergency of the mission. The mission had
been led to write a missionary magazine. It was called DengTa. Meant Lighthouse. Good name. But they had no concept of how to promote it. They turned out
a good article, but they were not schooled in promotion, distribution. And they were in trouble,
'cause they needed to have so much being sold in order to cover things. Originally they had
wanted me to come back to work with the military, because I had worked with the military along
the front in China and got along with them well. So that was the idea. And then it changed
because this magazine needed a promoter. And I was the sanguine...that type that could do it,
they thought. So I entered into that program and became known all over the island as Mr. DengTa. And a lot of them didn't know my real name. But I identified myself with
magazine. And when they'd see Springer coming in a crowd, they'd say "Uh-oh, I gotta renew
my subscription or something." And I was already to do that for them. So we worked it up to at
least four thousand subscribers. Some books places [sic] had on more, but was not that
dependable. So that was my work my first stay out there.
ERICKSEN: How did you...how did you find working on...on that?
SPRINGER: Well, it was quite an adventure. I'd never done it. It was all new to me. And I had
never done very much in the way of business. And this would require that. And preferably...and
later I got someone else to do this who had a business background. Well, we got along those
three or four years. And while there, one of the missionaries...a Presbyterian minister had to
retire and in his mind he selected Marion and myself to take the...their cut...place in a Bible
school. Which would be excellent in that Marion was superb in that job. And so from that we
went to Shinju where the Presbyterians had a Bible school. And in Shinju I got into writing
Bible lessons. And on my staff I had people who could speak in Taiwanese and in Japanese,
English, Mandarin. So I would churn something out in English and go over it with them and
they'd churn it out in the other languages. So we had four languages going in this program. And
that helped us get the four thousand and we had some from far afield and other parts of the
Pacific. And that was very satisfying experience. And, of course, my advice to the people in the
future would be to remember that a magazine is editing and printing and distribution and
promotion of it. And not to forget that. We learned it the hard way.
ERICKSEN: What were some of the difficulties you had?
SPRINGER: Well, my difficulties were that there was no network to work with. We had to
create our own. And people promoting a magazine from a stand and so on. They could be very
negligent about paying their bills. And I didn't understand the lingo of some of those places.
And it was...took a lot of time and patience to work with these fellows. So, preferably, we were
working with the missionaries. The idea being to...through pastors see that this type of
magazine, which fifteen percent of it was evangelical, saving the soul people. The other would be
various things that they'd be interested in like type...photograph work and things like that as
come-on. And that was very popular. The idea that the pastors, the local teacher would
recommend it and we would help see that they got a supply of these things or had a mailing
address where by they go on the list. And it seemed to work rather well. Leaving it to people to
sell to unbelievers or without any proper pushing wasn't so good. We'd do what we could while
we could. And we were working mostly. I would go to a conference and they would say "Oh
here's Mr. DengTa." And then they would renew or make more
subscriptions at the time. And cumulatively it was getting better and better that way. But I
realized that I was not trained as a businessman so when we had one, I...I transferred the work to
him and he did a very good job. That was [E. W.] Ayken [?]. Francis' husband. And he passed away in a
couple years, so then someone else took it on. Then it wasn't printed for some reason. It just
SPRINGER: While...while we're in this [meaning, "while we are talking about this part of my
life"] we were transfered to.... In this Bible house where I was working in Shinju, we could see
that an unfortunate attitude was expressed by the local pastors that mountain people were non-persons. And...for instance a very fine man that was with me in that faculty, if he went to the
mountains he had to have it understood with these mountain people that he would just be over
there...up there 'til supper time and get out. They'd have to have a case of pop up there for him
to drink. That type of ministry...that type of thing. So Marion and I felt that the next time out we
would spend our full time with the mountain people, identify with them. And that we did. So I
went through presbytery, under their care. They selected the area.
ERICKSEN: In Taiwan?
SPRINGER: In Taiwan. And we spent full time on it. "Full time" meaning that we lived as
close as we could to them. The law of the land was that no foreigners lived amongst them.
ERICKSEN: Why was that the law of the land?
SPRINGER: I really don't know other than that they were afraid of foreigners influencing the
people and there'd be a revolution. There had been a time when they lost an island... Thaiman...
Thailand... [trying to remember the name of the island] whatever...and it was because the
mountain people came down out of the mountains and took over that island. And there were
enough people afraid of that so that they had a rule that you had to have a permit to go in. You
could go in and be renewed every so many months.
SPRINGER: So we had given to us responsibility of twenty-six preaching points and churches.
Which meant that twice a year I could get around to them. And I was practically every week,
Friday or Saturday I was going up into the mountains. And we went up there to hold meetings
and fellowship with them, listen to their problems. And I would even bring along...because I was
eating their food and they weren't having a very good time themselves, I would bring along some
pork. They liked the fat pork and they didn't get it. So that's what I would bring to contribute to
whatever place I was to eat. And then Sunday, late, I would take the last bus out of the
mountains back to Ta Hsi [Ta Hsi Chen] where I lived. So that went on for a term. There was
one big boo-boo [mistake] that I did there, which I want people to know. Once a month the
Presbytery had ministers get together for a day of fellowship, messages, what have you, at which
times I would give a message or two and the kid...these fellows would all record them, take them
back with 'em. And, of course, at times I wanted to go through the field myself and I didn't have
too much time to write a lot of sermons, so I'd use some of those. And one of the leaders, I'm
sure, used one of mine and then I used it. And he had been strutting around that it was his
message, of course. And then when I pulled the same thing off, then they'd go "Ha ha ha, you
got it from Springer" idea. And it got him mad. He really isolated himself from me. Which was
stupid on my part. I should never have used a sermon in the mountains that I'd used down
amongst these men. It was a mistake that I hope henceforth that those who are loquacious and
able to speak will avoid this. So....
ERICKSEN: Were you able to patch up your relationship with him?
SPRINGER: Not really successfully. He was the type that had been in two...three missions and
wanted the best of everything. [clears throat] So he was off of me like a dirty shirt.
ERICKSEN: Was this an American fellow?
SPRINGER: No, no.
SPRINGER: Yeah. He'd been in and out of the Presbyterian Church and joined another group
and got good pay and so and back.
ERICKSEN: What were the mountain people like?
SPRINGER: Well, to me they were a very lovable people. They were appreciative. And Marion
and I did quite a few things for them other than sermons. They had their usual run of accidents
and illnesses. And we found that if we sent them to the Presbyterian hospital, they could sit in a
corner there all day and no one would take care of them cause they were mountain people, no-person people. So Marion and I would go and sit with them and see if they got their attention.
And we would listen to what their medicals recommended and saw to it that it was carried out.
And this was very...they were very grateful for that help. So we did that. For instance, one time
a fellow needed an...an operation, but he had to have his mother's okay, but she was up in the
mountains. They wanted to do this operation as soon as possible. So I got a taxi and went up
into the mountains to get this thing concluded and phoned ahead and I didn't know where his
house was, so his sister was to come and meet the taxi and did. And it was beginning to rain and
the glow of day was...was soon gone, but she knew the way like the back of her hand. And it
required in the rain slithering down an adobe [mud] type of trail and I found that American tennis
shoes wouldn't do for this type of thing. And what they would do was have a canvas shoe in
which they glue a piece of a tire and those things grip. And that's the type of thing. That's the
cheapest shoe you can get. Pretty fine. It was little over a dollar, I guess, to get that type of shoe.
So I slivered with her up these steep hills, crossed the river on a bamboo raft. Spent the night up
there. Brought the mother back to do the...(what did she do), some mark or something to permit
her son to get an operation. So it was that type of thing. It's not publicized much, but there's a
lot of meningitis up there. And there was a girl who got it. She had been one of the leaders of
her school class. But it burned out her brain, fever of the brain. And we went up there and
bought what we could in the ways of a few toys and things that such a mind would be interested
in and helped that way. Those types of work were done this way.
ERICKSEN: How did the mountain people feel about the rest of the islanders?
SPRINGER: Well, they resented being non-persons. And things got better for them.
Missionaries had introduced good fruit trees. And Jim Dickson (whom people called Mr.
Formosa, good Presbyterian), he introduced these fruit trees all over the north end of the island.
And they be...bore fruit and began to sell this fruit. So after my time many of these fellows...
enterprising fellows were better off actually than the missionary. But that came before...after my
time. But in our time we wanted to identify with them in every way possible. Our house was
always for the.... When...when they'd come to town...if it was at a meal time, no matter what we
were eating (it would be foreign type [of food]), such as we had ("Give we unto you" [Matthew
25: 37-39]), they would have it. And they appreciated the attitude.
ERICKSEN: Did you find that there were any disadvantages to that identification?
SPRINGER: Not with the mountain people. When they...we traveled as they did. When they
were on a bus, we'd get on the bus. Go the same place. When they got off and walked, we got
off and walked. Some of the missions supplied to their missionaries automobiles, which to me
was a handicap. You go thundering around amongst the tribal people with a car, that just puts
you out of their class. And there was no rapport. We didn't have that trouble.
ERICKSEN: Now when we're talking about the mountain people, their...there are other ethnic
Taiwanese in addition to mountain people. Is that right?
SPRINGER: There are ten tribes of mountain people. They didn't all come from the same place.
From various parts of the South Pacific. And they each had different language and had a
different religious tradition. In the mountains itself there was...they didn't have other groups.
That was for the mountain people. And they reserved for the mountain people the inaccessible
places. It was kind of crummy. But as the Lord blessed and they got more money why things
were better for them, dressed better and got to schools. That was after my time.
ERICKSEN: Now a moment ago when I asked you if there disadvantages to identifying with the
mountain people you said, "not among the mountain people" which suggests that there were
ERICKSEN: ...with other people.
SPRINGER: Other people wouldn't want be limited in their mobility and they wouldn't
appreciate that being asked to limit themselves. So we were a little bit queer, you might say, at
times in that way.
SPRINGER: Hu...Hudson Taylor was a queer, you know, in Shanghai. Dressed like a Chinese.
So that the offices back home debated whether they would let this man back into England who
had identified himself with the "Chinks," [derogatory term for the Chinese people] as they called
them in those days.
ERICKSEN: Now would there have been OMF missionaries who would have looked a little
oddly at what you were doing? Or was this missionary...missionaries with other organizations?
SPRINGER: Other organizations, yeah.
ERICKSEN: So you had support from your side.
SPRINGER: Yeah. Right.
ERICKSEN: Did I understand right that you also worked on a correspondence course?
SPRINGER: In Shinju in this Presbyterian school, Marion did a wonderful job of teaching in
classes. I wr...wrote these Bible classes...lessons. Quite a few. And had them in all of these
SPRINGER: And they got...she got it out through the Presbytery and whatever way and we had
people from Malaysia that got a hold of them somehow, through missionaries probably. And
they'd be corrected [by the Springers]. We not only just say it's was right or wrong, but we'd say
why it was wrong. So there was that rapport with them.
SPRINGER: And encourage them to take on more. At that time I felt it was good that after
giving away a few lessons, that they should begin to pay a bit. That didn't pay off, 'cause some
of them, I suppose...their finances weren't up to much. I would do...another time, I think, I
would let em have it for free. People were interested in supporting correspondence course work
and so that could be done.
ERICKSEN: When you were doing your writing for both the correspondence course and the
magazine what...what age level were you writing for? Or what literacy level?
SPRINGER: They were writing for the teens or early teens. And that's seemed to be about as
high as you'd want go on that,'cause the average of education was low.
ERICKSEN: [Pauses] So when you were in Taiwan you were stationed in three different places?
SPRINGER: Finally, my last segment.... My climbing into the mountains...my heart became a
protestant heart. It protested. So the doc said he'd have to ground me into being in a low level.
So I was able then to be in Taipei, the capital, where there was a Presbyterian Church that sorely
needed a pastor. In this case, in English. Marion was needed teaching English. She could get a
job teaching English in [Chinese name of University] which is a university. About fifteen
minutes from our church.
ERICKSEN: And where was this? What town or city?
SPRINGER: Taipei. And then out of town with Jim Graham. She taught English at the Christ's
College, as Jim Graham called his college. So in these two...and she'd go back and forth by taxi.
Taxis were cheap. She had that rich fellowship and ministry with the students out there. And
they loved her.
ERICKSEN: How did you find being a pastor in China compared with being a pastor in the
SPRINGER: Well, it had a lot in common. Lot of problems. God gave me two ears and one
mouth. I had to do a lot of listening and not so necessarily speaking. But fellowshipping with
them, being sympathetic. Sym-pathetic. Those two Latin words knocked together means "to feel
with." And the people saw that I was feeling with them. And laughing with them not at them.
That got the things really made an esprit de corps [common feeling uniting a group] that was
precious. And we constantly were dealing with the leaders, so that they would realize this is the
way to do it. And they were glad to do it.
ERICKSEN: Who did you find you enjoyed working more with, the ethnic Taiwanese or the
SPRINGER: I probably felt that I was accomplishing more with the Chinese in that we both had
Mandarin as our...our language. The mountain people had to have someone translate it or there
were mountain people who understood Mandarin. Sometimes I was suspicious about that. I
would give some serious message and it would be interpreted and the people all laughed. Now I
knew that the fellow hadn't spoken something that would make his language...it was just that he
twisted it a bit. It could be that he said "He says in Mandarin this." And you know. So that's
where it was. There was less loose fuses when I was working with the Mandarin group. But I
like the mountain people. They're lovable people. They're appreciative and work hard. And
there were many opportunities to help them physically, spiritually, mentally.
ERICKSEN: What would their religious past be?
SPRINGER: It was some strange conglomerate of spiritism. If they stumbled on a rock when
going to market and had good luck, well, they knew that was a god of some kind. Better respect
it and not cast a....
ERICKSEN: Did you find that you had to overcome a lot of that sort of thing in your work?
SPRINGER: Well, I think the Holy Spirit did through me. Telling the truth. And they
would...and the Holy Spirit would help them to realize that, "This is the truth." It's not my
arguing but God's working in the Word, in His own Word. He did it.
ERICKSEN: Can you think of any instances of people rejecting that or accepting that that you
SPRINGER: Nothing comes to mind now. I'm sorry.
ERICKSEN: No, that's alright. Let's...I'd like to go back to China to the mainland for a little bit
and talk about a couple of things.
ERICKSEN: We have alluded to the Kanes but we haven't talked about them. Could you
describe the Kanes?
SPRINGER: [J. Herbert] Kane at Moody Bible Institute when Marion knew him, he was running
the dining room. The business end of it. Managing it. And did a real good job of it. And a very
capable businessman. His wife [Winnifred] was very personable, attractive and helpful. And I
don't know what she did at Moody 'cause I didn't know her at Moody. But Bert was dearly
beloved and appreciated for what he did for the dining room. By the time I got there from
Princeton, he...he had gone out to the field. I just missed him. But they really liked him. When
he finally got out and went to Fowyang, he had the blessed experience of being designated there
for the whole time he was out there. So the one doctrine he learned...the one language he learned
was the one he used. And for him, that was great. And he was very capable. And he was
thoroughly acquainted with the Bible. He comes out of a Plymouth Brethren background, so he
really knew his Bible. And was very helpful. I would go with him sometimes (not enough) but
sometimes on his trips into the country. He had well over a hundred out-stations. And they'd
have conferences where several churches would come to one and he would speak. And before he
would speak, I would find him out in tullies [at some remote spot] somewhere memorizing his
speech, so that at the time he spoke, it was flawless, perfect. And he had a...he had a high
demand to be perfect. And it was accepted and people appreciated that. And the Lord used him
in a big way that way.
ERICKSEN: Was he easy to get along with?
SPRINGER: Pretty well. He was a human being. But....
ERICKSEN: What things come to mind when you say that?
SPRINGER: Well, I really didn't want to talk about this. But we lived in two different
compounds and they had grapes and I loved grapes. So when they were gonna get ripe, Marion
and I were looking to the time when we could have some of them. We went over one day and
they were all...and they had sold them. And then...it was then the Lord told me a very important
thing. This incident was very important in my life. 'Cause I was a redhead and I was quite ready
to blow my stack. But the Lord said "Springer, My work is more important than your feelings."
And I kept hearing the Lord say that time after time all through my whole missionary career. That
was important for me to get. It was negative, in a way, but it was helpful. And for Bert, he
didn't do it to...he just didn't think about it. So I never held it against him. [laughs] But I learned
an important lesson.
ERICKSEN: In your experience during China...or Taiwan did you see conflict between
missionaries that went too far?
SPRINGER: No. I was Mr. DengTa going all over...always on the go
amongst the people. They came to learn that I had waterproof shoulders and they would weep on
my shoulders about their own people. They couldn't talk to their own people. But I could talk
with them, pray with them and give them a bit of fatherly advice. A few of them were younger.
So there were these conflicts. The devil blows 'em up out of proper proportions. So that was a
ministry that I had that I don't advertise. But there it was.
ERICKSEN: Now that was among the Taiwan...Taiwanese, is that right?
ERICKSEN: What about...?
SPRINGER: Also the foreigners. It was the foreigners that came to me about their own foreign
brothers and sisters. [chuckles]
ERICKSEN: What sort of things were missionaries fighting about?
SPRINGER: Well, that some fellows would take too much of the responsibilities and didn't give
the other fellow enough and that type of thing.
ERICKSEN: Was there any sort of mechanism in the mission to deal with conflict so that it
wouldn't go to far?
SPRINGER: Every mission should. In Presbyterian outfit you have a...in presbytery you have a
committee that takes care of this type of thing where you view it and talk it over, pray it over.
And come up with conclusions. Either you have to change or we change you. You change your
attitude or we change your address. [Springer laughs]. "All things work together for good."
ERICKSEN: How did you get involved with Pocket Testament League in Kaifeng?
SPRINGER: On my first furlough I got to know Glen...what's his last name? I'll think of it
tonight. Glen what...? Anyway, he was football hero and he was on the staff of Pocket
Testament League and he got to know me. He knew I was eligible and ready to go back to
China. And he wanted to go in there with a few cars and a lot of gospels of John in Chinese and
have meetings all along the front and give out thousands of these booklets. And because I had a
China background, he thought I ought to be on the team. And the mission was agreeable and
loaned me to the Pocket Testament League until such a time as the Communists altered it. And it
was very good. We had letters from General [George C.] Marshall and others and these fellows
would click their heels and get the men up and companies, a whole battalion of em maybe, all in
companies along. And I had acquired a generator which would provide at night lights and run
the movie... the slide projector. And we used that. And we'd get the best man we could to do the
speaking. That Andrew Gih was one. He was with us a whole month one time. And we went
to...all up and down the front. In fact one of my bosses was going to send us one time where I
had just learned from military contact that the Communists had just moved in. It was very fluid
and you didn't know which army was up the road a way. But we went by my motto. "Submit
your way unto the Lord. Trust also in Him and He will bring it to pass." [Psalm 37: 4-5] And
fortunately we never lost the motor or lives because of this. There was one time when I was
coming back from Loi-Yuan [?] and a general in JungJo [?] said "Wait a while. I don't know
what the road is...the condition is between here and Kaifung. Let me send my men out and find
out. And when it's time to clear out, I'll let you know." That was one time. I went out to Lou-Yuan [?] there two or three days. Marion was in Kaifung. And communists put on a big push
while we were absent one from another. In Loi-Yuan [?] an unusual thing happened. They had a
little airfield and about half of the night one night about the third night, there were planes
landing. They were coming in all the time. It was unusual. And the scuttlebutt [gossip] of it
was, these planes were all coming in from Kaifung. And that's where my wife was. And the
scuttlebutt of it was that Kaifung had been lost to the communists. So the next morning we got
our ten-wheeler GMC trunk...truck going and went back. It took all of a day or two. And it was
that time that the Jungjo [?] general said "Wait 'till we can see how the situation is." And he
okayed it. And when we got home, we learned that the communists had been all over that
country outside the walled city. They had never entered it. And then my...which we were glad.
And Marion on her part at the compound had a lot of girls come rushing to her and say, "Can we
stay with you tonight?" So she had had a houseful of kids. Girls. And the boys [laughs] felt that
they needed protection, so some other part of the compound, she had boys. We were very glad to
get back together.
ERICKSEN: Now from the time that you came back until you were expelled in '51, how were
you...were you stationed in ...?
SPRINGER: Well, almost immediately after this few weeks, it became obvious that staying in
Kaifeng was not tenable any more. So on the eighth of February that year we got...the OMF...the
CIM had a famous hospital there.
ERICKSEN: In Kaifeng?
SPRINGER: Yeah. And we couldn't leave it there. We couldn't leave all these nurses with
potential of Communists coming in cause they would be mistreated personnel. So all of the girls
and most of the doctors went out in planes in January or early February. So we all heaved a sigh
of relief. They were out. Then there was a lot of equipment that we needed to get out. We got
the personnel out. But the hospital had a lot of medicines and various things that could be well
used elsewhere. So a fellow named Guiness [?] and Dick Hillis and I were the last to get out by
plane. And two planes.
END OF TAPE
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