Billy Graham Center

Interview with David Howard Adeney - Collection 393

[Note: What follows is a description of the documents in this collection which are available for use at BGC Archives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA. The actual documents are not, in most cases, available online, only this description of them. Nor are they available for sale or rent. Some or all of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. ]

Since we are migrating our website to a new platform, we will no longer be updating this earlier version our site. Please visit our Archon database for online guide descriptions. In early 2018, look for our new site, currently under construction, linked in the BGC Archives section on the Library and Archives page. (12/11/2017)

Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biography of David Howard Adeney

An Essay on the Contents of the Collection (Scope and Content)

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Click to listen to an excerpt from this interview. Click to visit the exhibit Web page featuring this and other excerpts with transcripts, visuals and audio links.

Transcript 3

Transcript 4

Transcript 5

Transcript 6

Collection 393 [April 9, 2003]
Adeney, David Howard; 1911-1994
Interviews; 1988
6 Reels of Audio Tape

Brief description. Two interviews describing Adeney's childhood, conversion, spiritual growth, education, involvement in IVF in Great Britain, preparation for missionary work and his missionary career with China Inland Mission in rural areas of Henan Province, China (1934-1941) and with university students in Nanking (1946-1948) and Shanghai (1949-1950). Adeney also describes his assignments as an IVCF staff worker in the US and Great Britain, as the Associate General Secretary for International Fellowship of Evangelical Students in East Asia, as Director of the Discipleship Training Center in Singapore, and his return visits to China. Also describes his father's missionary work in Romania before World War I.


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

NOTE: Researchers wishing to quote from the interviews for publication purposes should consult the transcripts, which identify emendations Adeney has made to be used in the event of publication.


Full name David Howard Adeney
Birth November 3, 1911, in Bedford, England
Death May 11, 1994
Parents Adeney's father worked as a missionary to Jews in Romania until Adeney was three, when the family returned to England. His father then served as a chaplain to German prisoners during World War I.
Marital Status Married Ruth Temple, who was a fellow CIM worker from America also stationed in Henan province, 1938
Children The Adeneys had five children, one who died when only three days old in China
Conversion At the age of seven or eight through the ministry of Hudson Pope, an evangelist working among children
19?? Studied at Monkton Combe, a Christian school where he completed high school
1935 Received an MA degree from Queens' College, Cambridge, where he studied history and theology.
1934-1941 Served as a missionary in China with China Inland Mission (CIM) at several stations in Henan province, and 1946-1950. While in Henan he was stationed at Siangcheng with Henry Guiness. Adeney and his wife together opened a station at Fangcheng. With increased Japanese activity in the area, the Adeneys left China in 1941. Adeney was almost rejected by CIM for medical reasons. By the end of 1934 he was studying at CIM's men's Chinese language program in Anqing.
1941-194? Joined Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship in the US and was initially appointed Missions Secretary. He was subsequently made staff worker for the east coast. Based in Boston, he worked with the IVCF groups at Harvard and Yale.
194?-1946 Relocated to London, where David worked on the mission's home staff.
1946-1950 Returned to China with CIM (Ruth followed a year later) when he worked in Nanking and then Shanghai, affiliated with the newly established Chinese Inter-Varisty Fellowship in their work among university students.
1950-1955 Rejoined the staff of Inter-Varsity in the US, residing in Geneva, Illinois. His assignment included responsibility for the 1954 Urbana missionary convention.
1956-1968 Joined International Fellowship of Evangelical Students' (IFES) as Associate General Secretary for the Far East, based in Hong Kong
1968-1976 Readmitted to the China Inland Mission (by then renamed Overseas Missionary Fellowship) to establish and direct the Discipleship Training Center (DTC) in Singapore, a training and study program for students.
1976- Taught as a visiting professor at the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong
Other significant information
Between leaving Monkton Combe at age eighteen and entering Cambridge, Adeney joined the Missionary Training Colony in 1929, which emphasized discipleship and evangelism. When Adeney began his university studies, he also joined the Cambridge Intercollegiate Christian Union, which was affiliated with England's Inter-Varsity Fellowship (IVF). While in college, he was secretary for local activities and missionary secretary, and later missionary secretary for IVF throughout England.

Following the reopening of China to Western visitors, David and Ruth made a number of trips to China.

Adeney was coordinator of OMF's China program until 1985 and then became minister-at-large for the mission.

He served two terms as president of IFES and then as vice-president.

Scope and Content

David Adeney was interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 10 & November 14, 1988, at the Archives office at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. The events described in the interview cover the time periods as follows: T1, 1911-1934; T2, 1934-1946; T3, 1934-1950; T4, 1941-1950; T5, 1941-1968; T6, 1957-1988.

T1 (55 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). Father's missionary work in Romania and mother's role, religious environment at home and in school while growing up, conversion, his own calling to work in China, influences of his parents on him, learning and working at the Missionary Training Colony (street meetings, accommodations, evangelism tours), studying at Cambridge and involvement in the Cambridge Intercollegiate Christian Union (CICU) as preparation for missionary work, comparison/contrast with present missionary training, responsibilities in CICU and Inter-Varsity Fellowship, becoming IVF's missions secretary, formation of Inter-Varsity Missionary Fellowship, application process to join China Inland Mission (CIM), his health complications, first impressions of China, CIM in China, Mr. Hoste, language school, adjusting to international fellowship, impact of the deaths of John and Betty Stam on missionary morale, CIM involvement in work among students

T2 (60 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). CIM's language school, impressions of Henan, visits to out-stations, Henry Guinness, his status as junior missionary, cycling tours to out-stations, denominational representation of missions in the province, expanding out-station work in Fangcheng with Chinese evangelist John Sung, impact of marriage on work, impact of Japanese war activity in area, ministry to refugees, contact with other missionaries, Pentecostal group, departure from China in 1941, interim period (being loaned to the American Inter-Varsity as missionary secretary, IVCF's initial work in New England, return to England during the German bombing in World War II, prayer/youth secretary for OMF in England), formation of Chinese Inter-Varsity Fellowship, Calvin Chao, revival among students, early developments, IVCF House in Nanking

T3 (60 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). Impressions of Chinese communism, Mr. Bosshardt's capture, recent contact with Chinese general, work among rural Chinese, disadvantages of CIM's non-urban emphasis, dislikes about rural work, gaining understanding Chinese students through rural work, rural worship service, Chinese church's weaknesses and strengths, zealous evangelists (particularly John Sung), evangelistic meeting, Sabbath issue, Chinese attitudes toward missionaries, missionaries' optimism about China's future upon returning to China after WWII, being loaned to Chinese Inter-Varsity, Calvin Chao, Chinese student groups (activities, revival, opposition, preparing students to address communism, apologetic booklet)

T4 (40 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). Inter-Varsity meetings under communist rule, communist demands of students, criticism, supporting students under stress, examples of compromised faith, Calvin Chao's departure, emergence of Three Self Movement, transfer from Nanking to Shanghai, communist treatment of missionaries, departure from China, missionaries' limited future in China, characteristics of Chinese Inter-Varsity, changes in CIM during his terms in China, Bishop Frank Houghton, raising children in China, schooling, Stanley Houghton

T5 (68 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). Review of first term with American Inter-Varsity (activities, contacts, transfer to England), establishing early student groups, IVCF staff, impact of traveling on family life, Harold Ockenga, Stacey Woods and his strengths and weaknesses, changes in Inter-Varsity since previous term on staff, evangelism among international students, converts from Islam and Buddhism, joining International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (IFES), serving student movements in Hong Kong, Japan, and Taiwan - key leaders, John Stott's visit to Hong Kong in 1963 and being denied to speak by the liberal Bishop of Hong Kong, Stott's character, being appointed president of IFES and fears, difficulties for student movements, Indonesia (opposition from liberal Christians), Thailand, Philippines (evangelistic meetings)

T6 (16 minutes, click to link to the transcript of this tape). P.T. Chandapilla, establishment of Discipleship Training Center in Singapore, recent visits to China, Billy Graham's 1988 visit to China, interpretation of visits by Three Self Movement and house churches



The material in this collection was received by the Archives from David Adeney in June and November 1988.

Accession: 88-66, 88-127
November 3, 1993
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

Accession: 88-66, 88-127
Type of material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

All of the tapes described below are reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, one side only.
# length Contents Dates
T1 55 min. Oral history interview with David Adeney by Paul A. Ericksen 06/10/88
T2 60 min. Continuation of T1 06/10/88
T3 60 min. Oral history interview with David Adeney by Paul A. Ericksen 11/14/88
T4 40 min. Continuation of T3 11/14/88
T5 68 min. Continuation of T4 11/14/88
T6 16 min. Continuation of T5 11/14/88

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 4/14/03
Expiration: indefinite