This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Theodore
Michael Flowers (Collection 431, T6) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken
words which were recorded is omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand
what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts and verbal hesitations such as
"ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a
transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written
. . . Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the
sentence of the speaker.
. . . . Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete
( ) Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
This transcript was completed by Wayne D. Weber and Paul Ericksen in January 1999.
Collection 431, T6. Interview of T. Michael Flowers by Paul Ericksen on January 20, 1995.
Continued from T5.
FLOWERS: But these were the men I had to hobnob with and they demonstrated a gentleness
and a sort of kindness, you know, the utmost respect for people. Now we disagreed, sure we did.
Disagreed and then we . . . we would have . . . someone would say, "Well, let's pray about it.
Let's pray about it." There was something about the men on the board at that time that
encouraged me to say, "Michael, in the midst of all that blah-blah-blah there, God still has
witnesses you've never heard from and they're honoring Him." And these men seem to be bent
on honoring the Lord. I really appreciated that. I really appreciated that.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Well, must have been . . . I mean, in the midst of governing the school in
a sense [pauses] . . .
ERICKSEN: . . . any key decisions that were made during the time you were on the board that
. . . ?
FLOWERS: I don't recall any just now. I know that one in particular was just before I came on
the board, because I was involved. I hate to say this and put on tape, but anyhow you can
eliminate it if you want to. But let me tell you. Have you read Christianity [Today] for
FLOWERS: Hutch, the fellow . . . Bu . . . Butch, he was the m . . . one of the . . . he teaches at
Columbia [Bible College]. And he and I were ministering and Bill Pannell were ministering
were ministering at Cedine [Bible Camp]. And I made some remarks about certain things, you
know, and so when he got back they were just thinking of integrating Columbia Bible College
and Seminary. And they invited me to come and speak to the faculty about integrating it. And
there were some flacks and that kind of thing, but . . . .
ERICKSEN: Does that mean . . . do you mean that beforehand there had been no . . .
FLOWERS: Oh, no, no, no.
ERICKSEN: . . . black students?
FLOWERS: No. No, no.
ERICKSEN: And no black faculty?
FLOWERS: Well, they only got one black on now, unless they have some recently, but it was
none at all. But this was Mc . . . McQuilkin. He invited me to teach. I told him, "I couldn't even
spell my name, never mind teach." But I did teach a class on church planting.
FLOWERS: A summer.
ERICKSEN: Anyway you were talking about integrat . . . the decision to integrate.
FLOWERS: Yes, to integrate it. And I . . . I . . . I went up and spoke to them and I simply
suggested to them that I'm sure they've taught the book of Ephesians many times [Ericksen
laughs] and I don't see how they should have any problem with that. And the thing I'm wanting
to say is the school was integrated without any problem. But the thing that really bothered me
was they sent to Jamaica for a student to integrate the school. [knocking on door, tape recorder is
stopped, then restarted]
ERICKSEN: Go ahead. we're on.
FLOWERS: That . . . that was all I think there was to that. I think . . . .
ERICKSEN: Oh, okay. You had said that . . . but the one thing that bothered you was that they
sent . . .
FLOWERS: . . . to Jamaica for someone to integrate the school instead of having someone from
. . .
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see.
FLOWERS: . . . South Carolina.
FLOWERS: You see, to me it would have been better . . . .
FLOWERS: See, because out of the country is alright, but we're . . . we're here, and of a
population about say a million almost black folks you should be able to find someone. But also
that points up the neglect.
FLOWERS: You see what I mean? But it has changed since that and Evangelical . . . black
Evangelicals are all over the show now. But again, for the most part most of them are with white
organizations. I have nothing against that. Like I said to Howard Jones once, "Howard, . . ."
(Howard and I were together when he was thinking of coming to Billy Graham [Evangelistic
Association]) . . . I said, "Howard, somebody has to do it and God knows who must do it." I
said, "You have been faithful and that's why the Graham organization is going to have you on but
don't forget where you came from." [claps hands] Since then God has raised up a lot, you know.
And it was true . . . Dr. Barnhouse [Donald Gray Barnhouse] told [clears throat] us . . . (Sam
Hart, B.M. Nottage, Sanford Fray, and someone else besides myself) . . . we went to see Dr.
Barnhouse once and he told us about a decision he and Billy Graham made not to have any more
segregated meetings. And that was a blessing. And all you need are a few good godly men of
national stature to say, "Brothers, we'd like to but we want to please God." And I . . . I . . . I . . .
be . . . be prepared for flack. But that's no problem. That's going to come anyhow, you know.
And I . . . I . . . I think the church needs some more giants like that, just so we're . . . we're not
fighting you. Please pray for us. You see . . . you see we need prayers, [laughs] so pray for us.
ERICKSEN: Well, I'm . . . since we're talking about black Evangelical leaders, I wonder if we
could just get, you know, some of you impression about them. We talked about Tom Skinner
before and you've mentioned Bill Pannell. What . . . what . . . tell me a little about him, you
know, from your vantage point.
FLOWERS: Yeah, well, Bill is what we call an intellectual and we were all tutored by B.M.
Nottage. B . . . Bill did most of his work among the white people, because he went to Fort
Wayne and he had quite a number of friends there, so they naturally used him. But he had very
little contact with us black folks until B.M. met him. And he came to Detroit and then he started.
But again, he is working in the college so he doesn't get much chance to do it. But he spoke for
us about two years ago at our conference so we have him every now and then. His wife is a
personal friend of my wife. There were three girls: Charmaine Florence, Ella Mons [Mrs.
Michael Flowers], and Hazel Scott [Mrs. Bill Pannell] B.M. Nottage said, "These were the first
three college girls . . . college girls that came into the assemblies." And he was saving them for
preachers. And, bless your heart, his prophecy came true. They all married preachers or at least
my wife says, "pretending to be preachers." [laughs, Ericksen laughs] She's a school teacher.
You have to forgive her. Anyway, Bill, he's written a few books and he's a personal friend of
mine and I said to Bill once . . . I said, "You know Bill, I believe the Lord has allowed us black
folks to come to America for a purpose. And that purpose I don't believe is realized. I still think
God wants us to show the quality living that He wants us His children to produce." And I said, "I
see academically where many folks are on the horizon but the humility that goes along with it
isn't there." And I still believe that. I still think many of the black folks are fantastic but some of
them still have a chip on their shoulders, and all of 'em are ready to say, "Well, we're not going to
until you . . . ." No, no. I don't think that's the attitude. I the think attitude should be: "You
didn't give us a fair break. You're just a man, but God who is more than a man has shown us
what to do. We want to please Him. So you could come to where we are. We'll will treat you as
a human being. We'll treat you as a brother. We'll treat you as one in Christ. But we have some
good men, but some of them are still [unidentified sound] bound up in racism of one kind or
another. And I'm not pleased with that. I can say that again with greater emphasis: I am not
pleased with that. Now that doesn't mean I'm pleased with the white folks. That's not my point.
But I'm only saying I think since we have been the underdog and have been liberated and have
come into all this we realize what has been done, we should take the initiative and show them
what biblical Christianity is about. That's the point I'm trying to make.
ERICKSEN: What about John Perkins?
FLOWERS: Fantastic. John [clears throat] is the man who to me has started the crusade for
reconciliation. [pauses] I don't know John as well as I know Bill. I've read two of his books and
I have a third I'm going to read when I get the time. [both laugh] But he was with us last year for
our twentieth anniversary as the banquet speaker. And I heard him on WAFS (that's the Moody
[Broadcasting] station here last night or night before last he was on with another fellow. I think
John has the right concept of what reconciliation should be. The difference between Michael and
most of the rest of the competent leaders is that Michael believe there can be no substitute for the
church. And so my thing is the church.
ERICKSEN: The church.
FLOWERS: They're interested in pol . . . . [politics?] I'm not against it because we have people
. . . we have [unclear], but I think if we are going to have strong communities we need the
church. He is building His church. Of course, they're part of the church too, but you know what
I mean? That company where you have the order and that kind of thing, the structure. I . . . I . . .
I . . . I believe in that strongly but I don't oppose. But these men, I respect them very highly.
ERICKSEN: What about Tony Evans?
FLOWERS: My friend. As a matter of fact, he has spoken [unclear] us at our conference
[unclear]. I pray for him every day. He comes on [the radio] 11:30. I heard him. I think the
world of him. But again, I could tell you it was through our instrumental evangelizing in
Baltimore that Tony's father [unclear] got to know the truth. So. [Ericksen laughs] So, I mean,
what I'm saying, I . . . I know these men. They are out of our field academically, but at the same
time we are brothers and we want to say to people, "Listen to him." He comes to our church.
You see that big church called New Light?
ERICKSEN: Yeah, down . . . uh-huh. Yeah, yeah.
FLOWERS: Yeah. He . . . he . . . he . . . he comes there times. And I go . . . when I'm in town to
go hear him. He's doing a good work We . . . we thank God for him. But you see . . . . Now I
look back on all that's happening. [unidentified noise] Now, I mean, we don't know any . . .
everything. But when I met B.M. Nottage he was praying for this. I . . . I learned to . . . to sit and
listen to him read and then pray for these people. And he would pray, "Oh God." He says,
"There are many intelligent preachers who are not preaching the gospel. Save some of them."
And God is answering the man's prayer. I believe it. I believe it. And, of course, the mantle has
fallen on me and I've given it to others. [I] says, "Let's pray that God would invade our
community with godly, gifted men saturated, filled with the Spirit to communicate this word.
God is answering our prayers.
ERICKSEN: Well, praise the Lord. I can't think of a better way to close the interview and trust
that He will continue to do that.
FLOWERS: Yes. Well, we're praying about it and we thank you folks for taking time just at
least to talk to us [laughs].
ERICKSEN: Well, you know we . . .
FLOWERS: And we . . . we . . . we thank God for the Billy Graham Association. We've been
[pauses] . . . I . . . I . . . I met Billy Graham and Cliff Barrows and George Beverly Shea when
they came to Scotland. That's . . . and Billy . . . Billy . . . Craw . . . Crawford . . . Cliff's wife was
playing the piano then. I heard him at a tent hall and he came to speak to us at the school. And I
remember Billy Graham telling us that when he is in North Carolina he preached with a striped
pants on, because you wouldn't believe it, because in those days he used to wear his bow tie and
. . . and you know. [pauses] But anyhow, I . . . I heard him that . . . and the thing that has
impressed me about the team is their togetherness for all these years. And I think I heard Cliff . .
. not Cliff, Howard Jones say once that Billy said to them, "Whenever any of the . . . when . . .
whenever you men see me trying to get besides myself [pauses] cut me down to size so to speak."
That's the attitude we should remember. We are responsible to each other and if any of us see the
one going out of line just say, "Okay, bro [brother]. We notice but [unclear]." And I . . . I thank
God for the organization, what they've done. We . . . that's why we helped with the crusade when
they were here last year. We, of course, as I said [claps hands] . . . I look at Billy Graham again,
my stupid ideas: Billy Graham as the national evangelist and Bill Gothard as the national
teacher. Now I don't mean that only . . . teacher, you know . . . you know what I mean. They . . .
but to me they stand out, you know. Bill Gothard, I . . . I respect him. Again, someone said,
"You believe it." I said, "I don't believe in everything anybody says. I don't believe everything I
say." [laughs] You know. But, I mean, hey I . . . I think he [unclear] goes into things in depth. I
think he's definitely sincere and I don't think he's doing it for any glory. Now again, I don't know.
I'm fallible. But I . . . I have the impression that God has raised him for such a time as this.
ERICKSEN: Now you mentioned the [1994 Atlanta] crusade. What kind of impact did you see
the crusade have in your assembly.
FLOWERS: Well, this assembly suffered, [pauses] simply because we are known as Decatur
Bible Chapel and they had us down for Decatur. So Lithonia [the location of the Chapel] got
nothing. But there were some people who went from there and . . . but they were all . . . already
members, so no new ones, but they are like restored and that sort of thing. But . . . and the other
assemblies, I . . . I was on the (what do you call it?) pastoral committee and when they . . . and I
. . . quite a few people, [unclear] would say, "Send one to Paul Douglas and one to Clifford Ice."
I would send to Clifford Ice because I knew Clifford Ice. I know what they're going to get there.
Now, if Paul was a man that I happened to know and . . . I put would his name down there too,
you know. But whenever there was someone who said First Baptist and another minister with a
question mark, [he would direct to] First Baptist, because I know [Charles] Stanley, you know
[laughs] what I mean. So that's what I was doing in . . . in the group that I was with. But the
thing that impressed me was: you have to be on the field to . . . to . . . to know what's going on
. . . going on. And we were not supposed to be counseling, because we were just supposed to
make sure that if any counsels [unclear] you know, just get it from them. And, excuse me
[pauses], and . . . and . . . and tears in the eyes of many people. People sitting in the stand didn't
see that . . .
FLOWERS: . . . and I came back and I said to them, [pauses] "You don't know. It wasn't a
holiday. Some of those people were dead serious. They came down there because they moved
by the Spirit." And the Holy Spirit seemed to be saying to me, "Dummy, what do you expect?
Millions of people have been praying for this crusade for years and now God is at work." But
you know, we live in a little world like that and . . .
FLOWERS: . . . you know, they just . . . just coming down. [pauses] [whispers] Praise God.
FLOWERS: Yes. It . . . it was . . . it was marvelous and that's . . . that's . . . was the third crusade
I think I've attended with Billy Graham. One of the things I wanted to do was to attend one of his
School of Evangelism in Vancouver or . . . and every time the cong . . . I am booked up. Even
this . . . this . . . this . . . this year. [recorder stopped and restarted] I . . . I . . . I . . . I don't think I
can make it. Now I can make it to the one here in Atlanta, but that's an . . . an engagement
pending. But I . . . I went to . . . I only went to one. That's in South Carolina. But I've been
following him. I went to . . . this is off, right?
ERICKSEN: No, we're on.
FLOWERS: Oh. [pauses, laughs] Well, I . . . I wasn't intending this . . . but I . . . I went to . . .
to Amsterdam with them in '90 . . . in '83 [International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists,
1983]. Thoroughly . . .
ERICKSEN: Oh, for the . . . oh, the . . .
FLOWERS: Throughly enjoyed it.
ERICKSEN: . . . Amsterdam.
FLOWERS: Yes, you know. And [clears throat] . . . but I . . . if . . . if I can kind of get to
Alberta [I think they're have one in Alberta this year], there is a chance I may be able to go. And
I . . . I'm going for two reasons: I want to see Alberta and I want to take [unclear]. So I'll do . . .
fulfill two [goals].
ERICKSEN: Well, it would be nice if you could teach at it, too. I think that . . .
ERICKSEN: Your energy . . . .
FLOWERS: No, no. That's . . . that's not my thing. My thing is not teaching. My thing . . . .
ERICKSEN: Well, yeah, right.
FLOWERS: You see, my thing is . . . well, I mean . . . last time we were . . . if I was speaking to
some ministers or . . . see, that's my . . . because that's my thing. I . . . last week a brother said to
me, "If you go to [?] inerrant Word, the authoritative Word . . . ." Well, that's my thing. [Makes
growling noise, laughs]. I can grit my teeth and [growls, laughs] . . . but I . . . I don't profess to
be in that kind of . . .
FLOWERS: . . . you know. But I liked . . . I . . . I . . . I taught a seminar to a Presbyterian on . . .
but again that's only because in those days there was no one available. I would . . . I would
suggest fellows like Hart [B. Sam] and you know. But when it comes to giving a word on
missions and I . . . I don't mind. I'd like to do it. I . . . I like to say to my fellow leaders, "Hey,
man, we . . . we . . . we going to . . . ." You know what I mean? That . . . that's they way I . . . I
like. I like to talk to the Christians. Of course, as I said, I'm asking the Lord to [claps hands]
help me to remember the people must be saved first before they can become Christians, so we are
going to put some time here as . . . as we pray.
ERICKSEN: Well, we've gone a long time today and I thank you for giving us all the time and
willingness to just reflect back on your experience so that others can benefit and hear some of
that energy. They haven't got . . . ha . . . they haven't had the privilege of sitting here and
watching how enthused you are about all this, but I'm sure that ninety-five percent of it came
through on the tape. And it's been a real privilege for me. So thank you, sir.
FLOWERS: Well, I appreciate them asking me and as I said before, "It's the Lord's time and we
have nothing to do but a meeting." So, [laughs] if I . . . if you leave now I may be able to get a
bite. If not, good. I can go home and come back and . . . you know. But at the same time, see,
Friday is the day we don't bother to eat, so . . . . But we'll appreciate your prayer for us. Why
not for us and commend us to the work and the Lord, right?
END OF TAPE END OF TAPE END OF TAPE END OF TAPE