Billy Graham Center
Archives


Collection 479 - William Adam Stier. T2 Transcript


Click here to listen to an audio file of this interview (59 minutes)

 
This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of William Adam Stier (CN 479, T2) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms 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. Foreign terms or phrases which may be unfamiliar appear in italics.
... 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 transcription was made by Katherine Graber and Bob Shuster and was completed in May 2014.



CN 479, T2. Interview with William Adam Stier by Paul Ericksen on January 20, 1993


ERICKSEN: This is a continuation of the oral history interview with William Adam Stier by Paul Ericksen for the Archives of Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. This interview took place at 3:20 PM on January 20, 1993 at the Media Retirement Center in Clermont, Florida. Alright, we’re back. When we concluded yesterday you had gone home for your first furlough, and I’m trying to recall what the dates of that were.

STIER: We went home in 1946, I believe it was.

ERICKSEN: Okay.

STIER: Yeah.

ERICKSEN: and you were home a year?

STIER: Yes, about a year. Usually furloughs were a year, maybe a couple months over.

ERICKSEN: Now were you up in Philadelphia?

STIER: New Jersey.

ERICKSEN: In New Jersey?

STIER: That right. Haddon Heights, New Jersey is our home church. That where we usually resided

ERICKSEN: When you headed back did you go to the same station that you had been at?

STIER: After we returned you mean?

ERICKSEN: Back to Tanganyika.

STIER: Yes, to Katungulu. We had moved the Bible school up there shortly before we returned on our first furlough. We went on first furlough, and we were there then on Lake Victoria for twenty years on that one school.

ERICKSEN: Now had it...had it moved before you left?

STIER: Yes. We moved...

ERICKSEN: Okay

STIER:...even months before we left, because of the water situation and of course...

ERICKSEN: Yeah, yeah that’s right.

STIER: ...they were getting water up from the lake. Right.

ERICKSEN: Well, I bet you were glad to get on your furlough after that move.

STIER: We were. Well, after seven and half years, which is a long term. Right. We were pretty weary.

ERICKSEN: How did things change for the school with the move?

STIER: Well, is was a good change for the school, for the students. Because it meant that they were able to do better as far as food was concerned and the water problem was solved. On the other side as far as the school was concerned, we did have...we didn’t have too many students but the accommodations were not too good until finally we decided we needed to build a regular school building, which we prayed about, and the Lord was faithful to the send in the funds for it. We had, from the very beginning, said that we would only build as the fund came in. We would not go into debt and we were able to get two good classrooms up, a very, very nice building. And then, our church, I believe it was at home, gave us money to put up the dormitory, and we got the third year classroom up. And then when we started a pastors’ course, which had been the fourth year of the three year term,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...the church also gave money to put up the fourth year classroom. So we had two rooms running parallel or running together and then two wings one each side for the third year and the pastors’ course.

ERICKSEN: Now, who else was you there teaching at the school?

STIER: I mentioned in the other...the other time, Miss [Lucilda A.] Newton. She was an excellent teacher. She was a Moody...

ERICKSEN: What was...?.

STIER: ...graduate, excellent in music and she did the training of the choirs in the school and a quartet. Every summer, in the summer months between the school years, the students...we always went out on a safari visiting churches in different areas where the students would sing, give their testimonies, and we would preach, and it was well established thing that we did and it really was a kind of real blessing, and the people always were glad to have...receive us and the students were at least glad to go. And she did very, very well in training them singing in parts because the Africans weren’t too used to that. And we had what we called the “our whole hymn book.” Our first hymn book there in Tanzania was made up with the tonic sol-fa system written right with the words instead of the...as we have staff notation here in our hymn books here in the States, we had the tonic sol-fa system which is do, re, me, fa, sol, la, ti, do.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...And they would learn their hymns and especially the choirs and the quartets really took part. ...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

STIER: ...They had to learn by the different notes on the tonic sol-fa system and did very, very well, and she was very excellent at it. But she was also a very, very excellent teacher. She was from Minnesota, I believe. I know it one of those northern states up there where it was very cold. And she was a graduate of Moody, and a very, very capable woman.

ERICKSEN: Who else was there?

STIER: Well, we had another couple. We had several couples. They came, and they did not always stay. Before we went home on our first furlough there at Katungulu, we had the [George and Elizabeth] Donners, Mr. and Mrs. Donner. He was from Gordon [College] in...is that in Massachusetts?

ERICKSEN: Outside of Boston?

STIER: Yes, that’s right. He was at that school, and they took over actually from us when we went on furlough, but when we come back they went elsewhere. And then we had a Mr. and Mrs. [Glen and Charlotte] Hoover. We traveled out with Mrs. Hoover the first time. She was a graduate of Wheaton and then took the course at PSOB [Philadelphia School of the Bible] and her husband is also a graduate of PSOB, but they were not married at the time. So she went out with us, and then we were on the field. He come out later, and I was best man and my wife was the maid of honor for them in their wedding at Kola Ndoto hospital station, and they were there at the station. They also were with us at that time.

ERICKSEN: So kind of like a PSOB reunion?

STIER: Yes, yeah. It was. We had...yes, it’s amazing. If we took pictures of the missionaries, you know, at our conference, the two main groups were the Moody graduates and then the PSOB graduates. It was very, very interesting.

ERICKSEN: Was there any kind of rivalry between the two? [laughs]

STIER: No. No. Maybe a kidding rivalry. Nothing serious whatever. No. We worked together just well...fine. Uh-huh. 

ERICKSEN: And you...who was administrating the school?

STIER: I was. I was principal to the three schools

ERICKSEN: I see.

STIER: When we were asked to open it and then when we move for twenty years at Kangutulu and then twelve and half years at Majahida. But we...

ERICKSEN: And I think you said yesterday, didn’t you, that you much preferred the teaching to the administration?

STIER: Yes, yes. Well, I enjoyed very much the administration of the school...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...and the teaching. Where I had to make my decision was the administration of the field as field director. I chose to remain with the school and carry on in that capacity.

ERICKSEN: Now how did it come about that you were appointed field director?

STIER: Well, Mr. Maynard died. And I don’t remember now whether I was appointed field director right after he died, whether someone else was in it before that or not. It’s been so long ago now and things sort of run together, when you get up in the years [laughs] you find everything doesn’t just line up as it should. But, I was chosen, elected I believe...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...by the field body there. Right.

ERICKSEN: And how did you feel about the responsibility?

STIER: Well, I enjoyed it, because I feel that was my forte, administration. I like that kind of thing, and I enjoyed it...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...but there was the need for making a choice. And as I mentioned the other day I...[clock chimes in background] [Tape recorder turned off and on again] Well, as I said I made the choice, then another man was put into the position and carried on.

ERICKSEN: In the school?

STIER: No, as field director

ERICKSEN: Oh, when you chose not to continue as field director.

STIER: That’s right.

ERICKSEN: How...were there times when being field director tested your ability to administer; when you felt sort of pushed up to or beyond your limit?

STIER: No, except, as I said, it was a rather difficult time in one respect and that was the relationship between the mission and the church where there was this desire of their taking over all the work and we had to solve that problem, had to have many meetings and go it over [sic] with the men, and perhaps at times they felt we weren’t acting as quickly as we should, and it did bring tension, but it wasn’t anything that really was insurmountable. It was a problem.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. How did you solve it?

STIER: Well, finally everything was turned over. And I think I mentioned yesterday that after the...we made the change and someone else took over as field director, it was shortly after that, that they voted that the work would be turned over to the church. And of course that meant also turning the property over to the church, the deeds to the mission places, mission plots and everything...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ... with some reservations, such as the administration of the missionaries’ school for missionaries’ children.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: That was kept by the mission, but the other works, such as the printing press and the church work and various other areas. Right.

ERICKSEN: Now, how...once everything had been worked out on paper, how did the actual transition go?

STIER: Well, the...then of course we had to have everything fit in and things had to begin to be turned over. The board of trustees of the mission had to take the initiative of having the deeds to the mission’s plots that were given to the mission by the government, that all had to be changed over to the Africa Inland Church, and it was all done.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: As far as I know everything has been turned over to them now.

ERICKSEN: Did it go smoothly?

STIER: Yes, that went smoothly afterwards.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: There were some, if I say tensions at times, getting everything ironed out,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...but I wouldn’t say that there were tremendous problems but tensions, and of course then they had their constitution, and they wanted at one time to have their leader called “director” because the mission had a director. But that was eventually changed, and they now have a bishop rather than...they used the biblical term there “bishop” rather than “director.”

ERICKSEN: Now what was the time period over which you were field director?

STIER: Six years. It was six years.

ERICKSEN: And what years were those?

STIER: I don’t know.

ERICKSEN: Let me try and track that down [sound of flipping papers].

STIER: Yeah, if you could track that down. I’m just not too sure of the exact years. I should have had them down, but I really don’t.

ERICKSEN: Let’s see –‘58-‘64.

STIER: Okay, well I’m glad you have that.

ERICKSEN: Now it says here too that there was William Maynard, and he was followed by Hamilton Morrow.

STIER: Morrow, yeah. Then I took over from Hamilton Morrow. Hamilton Morrow just died this past year out in Washington State. Right.

ERICKSEN: Now tell me what those two gentlemen were like as field directors?

STIER: Well, as I said Mr. Maynard was a field director for many, many years.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: Very...a real southern gentlemen and did very well, that everyone respected him and looked up to him. And I think I mentioned on the other tape the Africans themselves...he got along with them very, very well and they appreciated him.

ERICKSEN: Yeah.

STIER: And I would say the same of Hamilton Morrow. He did very well. He wasn’t in too long of a time..period of time,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...but he was put in right after Mr. Maynard, that’s right. I was actually gonna say that, but I wasn’t sure. My mind sometimes play tricks on me.

ERICKSEN: Now there was a fellow whose name I’ve heard looking through the files, and he was the first field director in German East Africa, it was....

STIER: Emil Sywulka?

ERICKSEN: Emil Sywulka.

STIER: Yeah, uh-huh.

ERICKSEN: And of course he was....[tape recorder turned off and on again] The first field director of German East Africa was Emil Sywulka.

STIER: That’s right.

ERICKSEN: What kind of fellow was he like?

STIER: Well, he was an Austrian. He was a real man of God, and as I recall a very rugged missionary. He didn’t go in for any of the luxuries or niceties that you might say present day missionaries would like to have. He traveled on a motorcycle or a bicycle. And actually he went right up to the end. In fact he had to get off his motorcycle, and he was taken from there to the hospital and died a week later. But he just, as it were, had the urge to push to the end. He was excellent in the language, had a love for souls, and he was a man of God, I would say that. A real...what we would called, “a pioneer missionary.” Yeah. And he did very, very well. And I knew him. We called him to our Bible school when were at Kijima, to teach a couple courses. He wasn’t there regularly by any means, but just bring him in say for four weeks or something like that, and that way we got really to know him even better.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. And of course it was during your term as field director that all the political change were occurring in the country as well.

STIER: Yes, yeah, yes, but independence actually come after [pauses] after I left that work, although I do remember during that time I was called at speak at Keswick conference in Kenya, and I went up. But I did have to come home sooner than I expected because at a certain date when I would have out of the country, they were going to make a move toward autonomy. It wasn’t the final turning over of the country to the Africans, but Julius Nyerere, who was the first president of Tanzania, he was being given certain powers at that time, and we weren’t sure exactly what might take place. And as field director I didn’t want to be out of the country at that time. So I did cut short my...I finished my series of messages which I was asked to bring, but we did come home early because of that. So it was at that time that the...the goal of independence was looming before the Africans,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...and it come shortly after that time.

ERICKSEN: Right. What was the environment like leading up to that point?

STIER: Leading up to what point?

ERICKSEN: To independence.

STIER: Well, it was, of course, great anticipation as far as the Africans were concerned. Many were anticipating the independence. Some were to a certain extent fearful. I always remember one Bible school fellow come to us and said, “We’re going to get our independence, but we don’t even know how to make a match” [laughs]. And I thought that was pretty good. He realized there were going to be some difficulties along the way, that it was to be a totally new experience for them. But it needed to be, and I agreed with it, believed it should be. And we had no difficulty at the time of independence, the day of independence or anything.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: It was a very smooth transition.

ERICKSEN: Now what difference did independence for the country make on your work?

STIER: It did not make any difference on our work. We had perfect freedom to go ahead doing all that we wanted to do and even up ‘til today in the schools they have at least, I believe, two hours of Bible, permission to go in to the schools and teach the Bible. Of course other religions have the same thing, the same opportunity. But it really did not make much difference as far as the mission work was concerned.

ERICKSEN: Of course Tanganyika, or Tanzania rather, was comprised of more than just Tanganyika.

STIER: Yeah, it was Tanganyika and Zanzibar. The two were joined together, and as I mentioned, they wanted people to give a name for the new country, and the name that was apparently presented and chosen was the name Tanzania, which the “Tan” was for Tanganyika and the “Zan” for Zanzibar. And then they have to put an “ia” on the end, because in the Bantu tone you always...every word has to end on a vowel, and you can never run two consonants together. It’s a...it’s a very excellent language, and it’s tonal, the Sukuma languages, and so therefore they had to have the “ia” on the end: “Tanzania.” So it’s Tanganyika and Zanzibar combined.

ERICKSEN: In some of the.... When I’ve been talking to folks about both Uganda and Zaire, tribal relations are a very big factor. Same in Tanzania?
 
STIER: No. It is not. It’s the most amazing thing. It is not. We just do not or did not have that kind of trouble in Tanzania that they had in the other countries.

ERICKSEN: Yeah, now that.... I think we did talk a little about that yesterday

STIER: As I mentioned the Sukuma tribe was about a million and a half people, but a very docile tribe. I mean they were not the warlike type of people. There were some that were quite dominant in their thinking and perhaps in their leadership ability, but we did not have that antagonism between tribes, that’s true. The only difficulty would be with the Maasai. We have quite a number of Maasai in Tanzania and of course they many times made raids on the Tang...the Tanzania people, especially for their cattle. They were great cattle people and wanted their cattle. In fact, right before we...no, this was early in the years. There was quite an influx of people came to Mwanza because the Maasai had been raiding their villages and they had to pack up and get out, but right before we left to come home to retire, the Africans actually saw a helicopter out in our area, which was very new to them because we were not too far from the Maasai people because the raids were taking place, and the government was trying to stop the raids...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...and the Maasai coming down to the Tanzania people and trying to get their cattle, because the Maasai really had the idea that all the cattle belonged to them [laughs].

ERICKSEN: It’s a convenient thing to think when you’re raiding.

STIER: Yeah, right, right. But tribal warfare like in other countries, no we just hadn’t had that there.

ERICKSEN: What about polygamy? Was that an issue in...

STIER: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, there was polygamy, and the church had to deal with it of course. And if you had a man [coughs] believe on the Lord, and he had several wives, he, of course, would be allowed to attend church, but he could not participate in the Lord’s Supper nor could he become a church member until he just had one wife. And that would go for a woman also. If she was one of many wives of a man, and she trusted the Lord, she too had to wait. I remember one case where there may have been two, three or four wives actually, and this woman became a Christian. She remained very faithful to her faith, but she could not be baptized or take the Lord’s Supper, but eventually those other two wives died, and then she was accepted as the one wife of the man and was accepted into the church. It’s...it’s quite a problem to know how to deal with those things, but I think...we...we always said...when we had problems like that, we always tried to let the Africans get the solution from the Word, understand, of course, but not for us as missionaries to try to impose our ideas on them. Let them get the Word. And they came out with that. They did not accept polygamy in the...in the church. It should be one man and one wife.

ERICKSEN: Were there...thinking a little more broadly in terms of just church discipline, but were there times when you thought that the church was being too lenient?

STIER: No. The church actually was pretty hard on people, like if they went into sin, and committed adultery, fornication, they would deal with that, and they would publicly announce the name of the person in the church that they are out of fellowship, and Christians should not fellowship with them until they repented and confessed their sin and came back to the Lord. And then they were actually given a judgment which we don’t do here in the States, of course, but many times after a person had committed immorality they were out of fellowship in the sense of not allowed to come to the Lord’s Table for six months or sometimes a year, just to impress on them the seriousness of the charge. And that was their...their doing. They chose to follow that path.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: I...just to get back, I think they were very, very strict in their discipline in that respect. Right.

ERICKSEN: What changes did you see in the school over the twenty year period that you were there?

STIER: Well, the...the change was the ability to increase the subjects taught, and the school as a whole to getting on to a higher level because in the early days we had them when they only finished second, third, and fourth grade to come in to the school. You see, we had many, many people believe on the Lord, and some of those men who believed may have been in a village by themself as a Christian. Well, they would gather people together and preach to them, but their knowledge was very, very limited, and they themselves were not what you would call a trained preacher of the Word. And so we had the Bible school there for these men whom we called teachers to come and get trained so that they could go back and really minister to their people. Well, as the years went along, of course, the level of the school was raised.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: We began to get up to fourth standard and then sixth standard, and well, before we came home, we had one or two graduates from high school see, but the academic level for the Africans themselves was quite low all through the country. And the greater...the greatest thing that we would notice would be the development of the schools, the teaching being on a higher plane, as it were, or [pauses] academic level as it were.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

STIER: Now many of these men would come, and they were married, and they would bring their wives and families. I didn’t mention this when I was telling you what I was doing. My wife, she was in charge of the women’s work, and she would have women’s meetings and also a women’s school where the wives of the men who were taking the course in the Bible school, they would be taught how to read and write (many of these women did not know how to read or write) and taught other basic subjects plus she taught them, of course, how to sew and how to cook. And the men certainly enjoyed that because they were used to just eating their ugatu [?] which was their main meal, and when she began to teach them how to cook some bread or something like that over a charcoal stove, why they really liked that, the men did, and the women liked it too, of course. It was a very profitable ministry. My wife carried on that ministry with any other lady missionary who may have been on the station with us at the time.
                          
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh. Now you completed your time at that school in what year?

STIER: At Katungulu?

ERICKSEN: Uh-uh.

STIER: That was in the ‘60s. I guess around ‘64.

ERICKSEN: Okay.

STIER: Because then we went to Majahida. We were asked to open another school, and we were there for twelve and a half years before we came home. And we came home in ‘77 so I presume...

ERICKSEN: Yeah, okay.

STIER: ...it was around ‘64 that we left there. Right.

ERICKSEN: How would you compare the two schools?

STIER: Well, actually what we did was the school at Katungulu was on a higher academic level for entrance, and when we went to Majahida, that was restricted at the very beginning, but I convinced the (I thought I did, apparently it worked), I convinced the leadership of the church that they needed to put the Majahida school right up on the same academic level, which they did.

ERICKSEN: It had been lower, in other words

STIER: Yeah, it was lower to get others in, but we got it up on the higher entrance level, and it worked very well...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...so that the two schools became just about the same as far as attendance was concerned, and I think even now they are about the same. We do not have a large number attending Bible schools as they do like in Kenya. Kenya has about five Bible schools and they really get up into maybe the hundreds. We at the present time I think in both of our schools just would come to about sixty each, which is good, but the schools were just about the same after that.

ERICKSEN: Now were the numbers...when you say sixty apiece, where those the numbers when you were there?

STIER: No, when I left. Well no. When I left we were forty at Majahida.

ERICKSEN: I see

STIER: Actually, there were only four of them who started. I was told to go out there. We were late getting out, and another missionary on the station, he had started one week actually under a tree. We didn’t even have a building there. We had a tree. He put up a little enclosure, and we had to keep our eyes on the clouds and the rain, and if it started to rain we had to grab all our books and go to the...to our porch, (but this is talking about Chuck Henning, a very, very excellent missionary that’s at the Majahida, also...over near the Serengeti ), and then, he was an excellent builder, and he’s the one that put up our very nice buildings out there at Majahida, and now they have about sixty attending, four large classrooms. As I mentioned before, in the older days we only had three years for them. They’d go out and work and then if it was seen that their work was acceptable and they were faithful in their work, they would be chosen to come back to a pastor’s course, and that was one year. Then they were ordained as pastors in the church even though they did pastoral work when they left Bible school, they were not ordained pastors until they took a pastor’s course. Right.

ERICKSEN: Now was the school in Majahida among a different tribal group?

STIER: Yes. They were among the Bantuzu [?], I guess you would call them, a grouping there. They spoke Sukuma, but their Sukuma had a number of oddities about it. But the Bantuzu [?] people, the Bantuzu [?] tribe, they were infiltrating that area, a very fertile land there down in the bush, not far, maybe about thirty-five miles from the Serengeti border, and it was another group of people there. Very, very different when you would meet a real Tuzu man. You can tell by his language even though he would speak Sukuma. They...some of their, like saying “Shibboleth,” you know, where they tested people by the way they said it. [Judges 12: 5-6] You could test whether a fellow was a Tuzu or whether he was a real Sukuma by the way he spoke. Right. Although as I mentioned also, we did have at least seven languages in the school while we were there shortly before we came home.

ERICKSEN: Did you have to make any adjustments in your program or how you ran the school to accommodate the different people group?

STIER: No. We...when we went from Katungulu, of course, we had the set curriculum ...

ERICKSEN: Yes.

STIER: ...and everything was running well organized there. Well, we did just simply transpose that over there, because I had all that background...

ERICKSEN: I see..

STIER: ...so I was able to make up the whole schedule and curriculum and everything. And we followed exactly the same thing. Right. No, it was the same.

ERICKSEN: Now I know in Zaire the Africa Inland Church was more of a...someone characterized it as more as kind of an independent church...

STIER: Uh-huh.

ERICKSEN: ...or kind of Baptist-oriented. And of course in Uganda, it was more of an Anglican model. What was the character of the church in Tanzania?

STIER: Well, when the constitution of the church was made up, and that was even in the early days when we were new on the field, those who were in charge of that (I’m speaking of missionaries now), such as Charles Hess, I mentioned him the other day...

ERICKSEN: Yes.

STIER: ...and even Emil Sywulka, I believe Mr. Hess was of the Reformed Church, and therefore we did get a church polity following the Reformed Church, which meant that we had a synod, and to this synod, which met once a year, the pastors all came, and one elder of the church, that pastor would be administering. So that made up the synod, and then, of course, they elected their leadership.

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: Once he was called director; now he’s actually called a bishop. And that is the type that they had. It is not Baptistic. And of course, being a Baptist, I don’t altogether...I’m not too comfortable with that. I went along with it, but I personally believe in the total autonomy of the local church not being under any ecclesiastical...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...governing body, but that was the way it was there in Tanzania. Right.

ERICKSEN: Were there any...can you think of situations where having the broader denominational structure was a hindrance or an advantage?  

STIER: You mean the...like following the...the form, type? No. The only thing I can say is this (and I want to be careful how I say it): the Africans, you see, their...their whole social life is structured with the chief, you know, and then he has his men under him. There’s very little autonomy, as it were, of the people. They...they are strictly (or were) under the chief. They got rid of the chief after independence, but that type of church structure was more in line with the African culture, if you get what I mean,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...because of that type of set-up, you see. But I (you’ll pardon me for saying it), but I just don’t feel that it’s altogether biblical, because, as I said, I’m Baptist. But that would be one way there I see there may have been a benefit, you see,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh, uh-huh.

STIER: ...because they look up to a leader. They looked up to their chief, you see, and they look up to the leadership of the church. Even though they’re pastors of their churches, they have their eyes on the leader. And they do that even to today, til today.

ERICKSEN: Were there other missions working in Tanzania, in the area you were in?

STIER: Well, in the early days, the government more or less allocated areas, and AIM [Africa Inland Mission] was allocated this whole area up in the or around the southern shores of Lake Victoria ...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ... and then down to I would say maybe about a hundred and fifty, yeah, maybe a hundred and twenty, a hundred and fifty miles down to Lohumbo. You see Lohumbo here?

ERICKSEN: Yeah.

STIER: that was our furthest south station, and that’s where we started. We were there four and a half years. So this was all the area of AIM, but they did have others in there: the Church Missionary Society

ERICKSEN: Anglican Church?

STIER: No, from Australia actually. Most of those people were from Australia. They were in Mwanza, the township and some of the towns. You had the Adventists there, especially in the Tuzu area. We didn’t have Adventists this area, but in the Tuzu area. And then the Mennonites were just to the north of us, and we had a lot of fellowship with the Mennonites up there because there was a real moving of the Spirit among us in those days and we did have the old fellowship with the Mennonites because...I don’t know how familiar you are with the Mennonites, but some groups of Mennonites can be very closed, and...you know, but they were quite open and we’d get together...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...and have fellowship with them, you know. But that was the only...I don’t like to use the word “competition,” but the only competition we had, and that was not bad at all. But now, since independence, of course, we have the Pentecostals have come in, especially in the Mwanza area and around there [coughs], pardon me, and I don’t know where else they may be located, but they have come in.

ERICKSEN: Was there a Catholic presence in the area?

STIER: Oh yes. I must.... Thank you. They were there perforce. Right. The White Fathers, what they called the White Fathers, they were there. Right.

ERICKSEN: What were relations with them like?

STIER: We had very little fellowship with them in the early days because the Catholic Church in those days looked on us as the, you know, the...I don’t know how to put it, but we were outside the fold,...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...but in recent years, of course, you know the change of the Church, especially since Pope Paul...Pope John the XXIII, I think it was, and what he tried to bring in. There was a softening on their position toward the Protestants, but they did have a difficult time with us in this respect, that we gave our people the Word of God. We gave them the whole Bible in the Sukuma language, and then they got the whole Bible in Swahili. Well, the Catholic believers would go to their padres, and say, “Why don’t we have the Bible?” So actually, because of that they were forced to give them the Word of God, a Bible. And actually what they did was the Swahili Bible - now AIM did not do that. That was a group of people that did the Swahili Bible, ‘cause, it’s spoken in Zanzibar and Tanzania and Kenya. Of course, the pure Swahili is Zanzibar. The pure Swahili also is Tanzania. Kenya has a not quite as pure Swahili. But they did a very good translation, and we used that in Bible school of course when we swung over to the national language. But the Catholic Church asked permission of those who did that translation to use that whole translation, which they did, but the trouble was that they put their notes into the translation, and so that they were able to, as it were, get their doctrines over even though they did not change the content of the translation. And I often used it in Bible school when I was teaching, I would say, teaching manuscription [sic] versions and then showed them how it says there in Galatians, “We are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus,” [Galatians 3:26] and that’s it. Well, in the Catholic version, we were using the same Swahili book, they had an asterisk there, and down at the bottom it said, “By faith in Christ Jesus and baptism. We’re all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus and baptism.” Of course then I’d bring it out to the students, it’s “We are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus, [Swahili word]” that means “period” you know: [same Swahili word]. That’s it. Not adding something else and saying “but” and also “with.” Then you have another gospel. So in that respect, we...the African people who were Catholics did get the Word of God...

ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.

STIER: ...because they were forced to give it to them. I hope that’s alright to say that.
 
ERICKSEN: It is
 
STIER: [laughs] Because it was a good item. Right.
 
ERICKSEN: Now you mentioned Pentecostals in the area. What were relations with them like?
 
STIER: Very little. Very little. We had difficulty with them because of this respect...in this respect: they had a lot of money, and could put up a church. See, we wanted our Africans to build their own churches. And they could put up a church, and also, they could buy a suit of clothes for the pastor, give him a nice shining bicycle and so forth, you see, and they would win over some of the men, thinking, “Well, this is just wonderful,” you see, and it wasn’t our policy to do that. We wanted the church to be indigenous and that they...they realize the responsibility which they had. Now in Bible school, we had lots of bicycles. We had people give to buy a bicycle because we had our students go out every Sunday to preach. But they belonged to the Bible school. That wasn’t giving a man a bicycle, you see, for his own, and then they carry on this ministry, and we...we did believe in helping the pastors to get them, but it wasn’t a policy as it was with the Pentecostals. And we found that a little difficult. Yeah. But we really didn’t have much fellowship with them.
 
ERICKSEN: Now was this Assemblies of God or...?
 
STIER: Oh, there are so many branches. I...I really wouldn’t be able to tell you.
 
ERICKSEN: Okay.
 
STIER: There are so many branches. Right.
 
ERICKSEN: Now in terms of the whole process of transition from mission authority to church authority, at what point were you not so much in the middle as a missionary, the center of the action, the center of the decisions, and the center of planning, and you were more alongside?
 
STIER: Well, after they received their independence, then it became that way. They...they were the ones that were running things, and they would say who they wanted on their committees. Usually they would include a missionary or so.
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: But it was totally theirs. Right. And it wasn’t easy for some missionaries.
 
ERICKSEN: How about for you?
 
STIER: Well, I guess we got...we left right before it became, what you might call, pretty hard for some of them. Some, of course, felt it from the beginning. I didn’t feel it because I felt they should have their independence, and I always...my opinion was that I would work together with them as long as I could, but if I got to the place where I felt that I couldn’t work with them, I’d say, “The Lord bless you, Brother,” and then just go off and if God had something else for me to do, I would...I would do it. We did lose a few missionaries who went to another field, but they just took over everything, and now they are that way. They...they assign the missionaries, and they’re going to work, and just everything about it is all totally theirs. A missionary doesn’t have a say except where he is called by them to be on their committee. Then he has the freedom to say just as much as anyone else, what he thinks, and his advice. Right.
 
ERICKSEN: Now who were the key Tanzanian church leaders that you were associating with? I’m thinking of names.
 
STIER: Well, yeah, the names. Yeremia Mayala. Yeremia Mayala. He was the first leader of the church after independence. He was really the leader before. Excellent preacher. A man of God. But he was very, very strong on the church taking over. Very, very strong. Yeah, but he...he...he just held the...when we’d have our conferences, maybe five, eight thousand people, he just held the people enthralled with his preaching, and good preaching. He knew the Word of God, and he was leader.
 
ERICKSEN: Was he an electrifying preacher?
 
STIER: No. No. Not as you would think of here in the States.
 
ERICKSEN: Yes.
 
STIER: He was a good, solid preacher. And, of course, the other thing is he, as Africans are, had lots of illustrations, down-to-earth illustrations of his truths, you see, and the people and stories and things like that, and that’s what Africans like, you see. He was good. Now he was one, and then there was another.... Oh, I’m sorry. I think I made a mistake. He was Yeremia Kisula. And then it was Mereki Mayala was another very...Mereki Mayala. He was another very important leader of the church at the time. In fact, he came over to the States. I came home on one furlough, and I – I think it was the very next morning after I arrived I had a phone call from Pete Stam in Canada. He had been on the field for many years in Zaire and he was director in Canada, and he said, “Could you come up to Canada with Mereki Mayala and translate for him because he was going to visit a lot of churches and schools up there. So I did fly up to Canada with Mereki Mayala in the plane. It was the first time these fellows were in America. And Mereki was on my right and a pastor from...Yoane Akudri, was from Zaire. You may have gotten his name from the people from Zaire. He was a very excellent preacher there from Zaire, and we flew from New York to Canada, and I went with Mereki and translated for him a whole month, and Pete Stam, he translated for Yoane Akudri for a month and then came back. But he was a very good, a very strong leader. And he knew the Word. And he knew English fairly well. He couldn’t preach in English.
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: That’s why he needed a translation, a translator, but he was a good leader. Right.
 
ERICKSEN: Going back to Yer...Kisula...
 
STIER: Yeah. Yeremia...Yeremia Kisula.
 
ERICKSEN: Yeremia Kisula. You mentioned that he was real strong, does that...strong on the church, the Tanzanians...
 
STIER: Yeah,
 
ERICKSEN: ...taking over.
 
STIER: Yeah, yup, yup.
 
ERICKSEN: Does that mean that some of the missionaries who had a hard time...
 
STIER: Yeah, yup.
 
ERICKSEN: would have a hard time with him?
 
STIER: Yeah. Yeah. He was strong on it. He wanted it, but he got it because it was right.
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: But it took a while for most of us to adjust to the fact, you see. After all, when you’re there for years, you know....
 
ERICKSEN: Sure.
 
STIER: ...as the...you don’t know any Swahili: mtu mkubwa. That means, “the Big Man,” you know, why, it takes a lot of adjustment and spiritual discipline, humility to realize the time has come when it needs to be turned over to the Africans. Yeah.
 
ERICKSEN: Would he...and I’m just trying to see a little more into his character– once the change was made, and he was in charge, what was his attitude to the missionaries.
 
STIER: He...he was fine. He...he...I wouldn’t say he held anything against the missionaries. Bo, but he would definitely carry out what was his duty as the head of the church, in that respect also the head of the missionaries, if I can put it that way,...
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: ...as they worked under the church, because that’s what we do now out there.
 
ERICKSEN: Yeah.
 
STIER: Right.
 
ERICKSEN: Where, as you look back on the different places that you worked, where did you enjoy being the most?
 
STIER: I think Katungulu. I was there for twenty years and it was on Lake Victoria and, of course, that was my...that was the main part of my ministry.
 
ERICKSEN: Yeah.
 
STIER: I mean, it was twenty years. The other was twelve and a half,...
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: ...which is almost that but not quite, but I enjoyed it very, very much there. The other place was altogether different. That was bush country out there. This was along the lake, and it was very nice there too. Yeah, we’d say Katungulu.
 
ERICKSEN: You went [pauses] went to Tanzania fifty-four years ago. How....
 
STIER: More than fifty-four.
 
ERICKSEN: Did you go in ‘39?
 
STIER: ‘38.
 
ERICKSEN: ‘38. Okay. Yep. Yep. You’re right, you’re right.
 
STIER: I’m saying that because I’m married fifty-seven [years] this year, and we were married before we went out.
 
ERICKSEN: What changes have you seen in the whole missionary enterprise over those fifty plus years?
 
STIER: Well, the biggest change, of course, is the set-up of how the missionaries work, how they’re processed through the mission, but before they can ever go out, all that information has to be sent to the Africa Inland Church. They have to process the missionary and give their consent before the missionary goes. You just can’t just send a missionary out there now unless he goes out under the blessing of the AIC, the African Inland Church. And that I think is the greatest thing. Yeah, I would also say, perhaps, another thing that would be a difference, I think in the earlier days (and this would only be logical) the emphasis of the work was more on church planting, going and preaching and teaching in the...on the church level. Now to a great extent, a lot of the missionary work is the, if I can use the word “technical work,” not in the sense of...but I mean, work where you’re doing what the Africans cannot do and helping them in those areas, you see. Now I’m all for seeing teachers go out because I would never regret having gone out and spending those forty years there, and I totally praise the Lord. Are we running out [of recording tape]?
 
ERICKSEN: We’re getting close, but you can keep going.
 
STIER: I just totally praise the Lord that I had the opportunity of training those men in the Word of God to go out and minister in their own churches because now I feel, that even though I’m home here in the States, I’m..I’m still ministering the Word through them,...
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: ...and you can’t have a better ministry than that type of ministry. And that is one of the greatest needs now, of teachers of the Word to be able to train the African leadership so that they can carry on in even a better manner than they have before. That’s the way I feel about it.
 
ERICKSEN: I can tell just from your eyes there’s some fire there now.
 
STIER: Yeah, I do. And I have no regrets. People sometimes wonder if you have any regrets, and I have no regrets whatever that I’d gone and spent that time there and especially doing that. Now I know other missionaries who got other jobs and the jobs were just as necessary...
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: ... because you work as a team.
 
ERICKSEN: Uh-huh.
 
STIER: You didn’t have schoolteachers who taught the academics. You didn’t have people in Bible school be able to teach the Bible courses. You have to have it all.
 
ERICKSEN: Now you said you don’t have any regrets – anything you’d do differently?
 
STIER: Well, that’s hard to say. I don’t know. No. I don’t know. Of course, there was such a progression, you see, even teaching in Bible school for almost thirty-five, or those forty years, naturally there’s a progression. You change as you go along because you see new avenues where things can be improved and so forth. I wouldn’t say that now I know of any changes to be made because I think they were made as we went along. Right.
 
ERICKSEN: I asked you about how missions have changed. What’s different between a missionary who went out in 1938 and one who goes out in 1993? What kind of changes are you seeing in young people who are now going out as missionaries?
 
STIER: Well, first place let me say I feel a little sorry for them in this respect....

END OF TAPE


Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 5/2/2014
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2014