Billy Graham Center

Witness... newsletter, May 1996

Below, very slightly edited because of the different context, are the text and photgraphs from the most recent issue of Witness.....


Arthur Glasser (1914- ) served as a chaplain with the Marines in the South Pacific during World War II. As a missionary, he lived through the Communist revolution in China and helped plan the evolution of the China Inland Mission (CIM) into the Overseas Missionary Fellowship. He has been a teacher and writer about missions and evangelism for many years. The oral history interviews in Collection 421 about his life are now open to users. The following excerpt from tape T6 describes the Bournemouth Conference of 1951, where the leadership of CIM, including mission head Frank Houghton, met to decide what to do after the mission had to leave China:

"And the more we talked,...the more aware we were that time was running out and we hadn't made any decisions. And this was significant, because the China Inland Mission leadership was always supposed to know the mind of the Lord. And we'd get letters, telegrams, this and that [from] people all over the world calling in, praying about it, telling us, encouraging us, saying, 'We believe you are on the threshold of something new and wonderful.' And nothing wonderful or new was happening in Bournemouth....

"Then there was a knock on the door. Here was an elderly woman, tall and angular. She had a scarf that was held onto her hair with a long, lethal hairpin of the old sort that came from Queen Victoria's day. And there she was, with a companion. And she said, 'I've come to you.' And no one knew who we were. And she came in, and lo and behold, it was General Booth's daughter [Catherine Booth-Clibborn, daughter of the founder of the Salvation Army and an important Army leader in her own right].... She said,'I think the Lord would have me come and visit you....'

"Now, her mind would cloud over a little bit every so often.... One time she said, 'Oh, I know who you are. You are Belgian businessmen....' And her companion said, 'Oh, Mother. Now, Mother' [chuckles]. But very vigorous, let me tell you. Tall. Quite a person.

"She came and...she asked that she might speak to us. Well, of course. She said, 'I'm going to start in by asking you, the leadership of the China Inland Mission, do you spell love?[chuckles].... Come on, tell do you spell love?' And they all cringed, drew back. It was a very amusing time.... And at last...someone said, 'You spell love, L-O-V-E.' She said, 'That's sentiment. The way you spell love is S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E....'

"And then she said, 'Are you watching my fingers?' And her fingers would go up and down the tassels on this business [shawl] on her head and down the side. And one fellow said, 'How can you keep from watching? She looks like the witch of Endor!' [laughs]. She said, 'Are my fingers touching the tassels? Or are they holding the tassels? What am I doing with the tassels? couldn't answer her question, so she explained it. 'Now, what does the China Inland Mission know about faith? Only touching the tassels?'

"When the punch line came, it was a punch line right between the eyes.... We had been praying, 'Lord, speak to us.' Did the Lord speak through this woman? What did she say? 'Are you willing to sacrifice and are you willing to really trust God after you have made the sacrifice?'

"Now, mind you, I don't recall the actual mechanics of how things happened, but after she left, then it became apparent that the unity of the body was, with the exception of Frank Houghton, [the mission] did not want to go forward under his leadership."


The Reading Room is the site not only of researchers quietly exploring the Archives documents, but also where classes come to learn about how to do archival research in general and about the BGC collections in particular. In late January, Wheaton College professor Dr. Samuel Ling (standing) brought his Asian History class to the Archives. Students were introduced to Archives' procedures, learned about the advantages of using primary sources and the obstacles to interpreting them, and explored selected folders of documents.

Orientation sessions are not limited to Wheaton College classes. Teachers of secondary, college, and graduate level courses, as well as home school parents, are invited to contact the Archives to learn how to arrange for a session.


A workshop sponsored by the Archives of the Billy Graham Center will be held on Saturday, May 25, 1996, in the Wilson Suite at the Billy Graham Center on the campus of Wheaton College. It will be led by Archives staff members and will last from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. with an hour break for lunch (not provided). Registration fee is $15.00 per person. Topics to be discussed include:

For more information, contact the Archives of the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL 60187, phone 708-752-5910, e-mail: bgcarc@


For a little over three decades, evangelist and author Tom Skinner(1942-1994) was one of the best known black Evangelical leaders in the United States. The interview which the Archives' staff taped with him in 1990 (Collection 430) has been processed and is now open for use. In it he discusses his childhood, conversion, philosophy of ministry, and, as in this excerpt from tape T2, his feelings about preaching:

"I have an absolute passion about preaching and at the same time it scares me to death. The old folks used to pray a prayer that went like this, when they were praying for the preacher on Sunday morning, the old folks would pray, 'Lord, bless the man who is going to stand in John's shoes, the man who is going to stand between the living and the dead and break unto us the Bread of Life.' So my formative years in preaching were shaped with the idea that every time you stood up to preach the Word of God, you were standing between the living and the dead and that the issues of life and death were at stake, and that was the frightening part. The exhilarating part was that you could offer people life....

"I'm enthralled with the idea that God has chosen through the foolishness of preaching to change peoples lives. You can get drunk off of that, you know what I mean? And yet at the same time frightened of the responsibility. True preaching is a sacred trust to me. It's like I am a different person. I don't mean in a schizophrenic sense that I take on a different personality or I am a sinner who suddenly becomes holier than other people. I mean, preaching is serious business to me....

"It was cultural shock when I discovered that white folks could, after service, have a session where they critiqued the pastor's sermon.... You critique a lecture, you critique a monologue of a play, you critique the opening act of a theater production, you critique a concert. You don't critique preaching! [chuckles].

"It's just that preaching, if it is legal and right, is the anointing of the Spirit of God on the Word of God through a vehicle God chooses to use, and you don't critique that. You listen to it, receive it, and obey it.... Because for me, preaching is the preacher allowing himself or herself to become submissive to the Spirit of God and that it is the Holy Spirit working through the preacher and the preaching of the Word of God that attracts people to Jesus Christ. And that to me is what the act is, is what the whole thing is about."


Barrows Auditorium was the scene on Monday, February 26, for a gathering of 260 people, representing Chicago, surrounding suburbs, and Wheaton College, who came to hear a stimulating lecture by Chicago clergyman and scholar, Rev. Jeremiah Wright (photo directly above). The program, marking Black History Month, was planned by the College's Minority Affairs Office, Billy Graham Center Archives and Library, and members of Wheaton's African American community; the evening's events were in part sponsored by AT&T. In his presentation, "The Invisible Giant," Wright focused on the history of the African American church since World War II, particularly highlighting the social transformation of the church and the way gospel music illustrates those changes, and the African heritage which continues to express itself in the church and community. Contributing to the theme of the evening was the lively Gospel music of Wheaton College's Gospel Choir, to which the audience freely contributed. The lecture was followed by a reception in the Center Museum (photo directly below).


Are you, or is someone you know, interested in doing genealogical research? If there has been a missionary in your family, especially one connected in some way with Wheaton College, you may find letters or diaries written by them or oral history interviews with them here in the Archives.

This past February, Mrs. Betty Stauffacher Constance came to the Archives during her visit to Wheaton. She had heard, she said, that diaries written by her grandmother, Florence Minch Stauffacher, were here. Much to her delight, she was able to see several of the diaries from Collection 281. Together with her husband John, Mrs. Stauffacher served as a missionary, mostly in Kenya, under the Africa Inland Mission, and the Archives has correspondence and diaries written by her dating from 1902 to 1959. Mrs. Constance read from the diary that included the news of her own birth.

The above photograph shows Mrs. Constance on the right, with Julia Grosser, a former Wheaton College staff member, on the left. Mrs. Constance, herself a missionary to Argentina under the Christian and Missionary Alliance, expressed the hope that she would be able to return and said, "This has been one of the most enjoyable mornings I've had!"

Editorial Block

The Archives of the Billy Graham Center is a division of Wheaton College which is charged with the gathering, preserving, and making available for use unpublished documents and other source materials which relate to the history of Christian missions and evangelism.
Robert Shuster, Director
Paul A. Ericksen, Associate Director and Disaster Officer
Janyce H. Nasgowitz, Reference Archivist and Newsletter Editor
Wayne D. Weber, Archival Coordinator
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Archivers of the Billy Graham Center
Wheaton College
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Last Revised: 8/5/96
Expiration: indefinite

Wheaton College 2005