Billy Graham Center

Interview with Chester Terpstra - Collection 491

[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. All of this collection can be borrowed through interlibrary loan.]

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Table of Contents

Title Page and Restrictions

Brief Description of This Collection


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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)
    Audio Tapes


Collection 491 [February 14, 2008]
Chester Terpstra; 1917-2007
Interview; 1993
1 reel of tape (.02 cubic feet)

Restrictions: None

Brief Description: Oral history interview in which Terpstra discusses briefly his years as a student at Wheaton College (1939-1943), his friendship with Billy Graham, and his later ministry in Micronesia and Hawaii.


Full name

Chester Terpstra


September 4, 1917 in Allegan County, Michigan, USA

Death April 12, 2007 in Sequim, Washington, USA




George and Lizzie (Lugtiheid) Terpstra



Aleta, Hilda, Janet, Gerald


Marital Status

Margery Shirley Williams, August 10, 1945



Michael, Merrill, Marshall


In the Congregational Church (later was a minister in the United Church of Christ)




BA, Wheaton College



MA, Wheaton College



DD, University of Edinburgh




Assigned by the Hawaiian Board of Missions to Kawaiahao Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA



Served as pastor to English-speaking congregation of Makiki Congregational Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA



The Terpstras were missionaries under the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the island of Pohnpei, Micronesia



Established a Pastors and Teachers Training School in Pohnpei to train Christian workers for Micronesia



Served as pastor to English-speaking congregation of Makiki Congregational Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He was instrumental in the formation of the Central Honolulu Community Association, encompassing the Makiki, Sheridan Tract and Kakaako districts.



Conference minister of the Hawaii Conference - United Church of Christ



Served as Interim Senior Pastor of Makiki Congregational Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA



Served as Interim Senior Pastor of Makiki Congregational Church, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Other significant information



Moved to the state of Washington to be near their children

Scope and Content

Rev. Terpstra was interviewed by Larry Thompson on May 7, 1993, on the campus of Wheaton College. The events described in the interview cover the time period 1939-1993.

T1 (53 minutes). Preparing for helping to lead the Wheaton in the Holy Lands program in 1982 with Drs. Alfred Hoerth and Morris Inch; reasons for coming to Wheaton in 1939; studies (undergraduate and graduate at Wheaton, and doctorate at Edinborough, 1953-1954, 1958-1959); missionary in Micronesia; impressions of Dr. Henry C. Thiessen; rivalry between the class of 1943 and the class of 1942; disrupting the senior sneak of 1942; Wheaton literary societies; memories of Dr. V. Raymond Edman; James Oliver Buswell III (son of president); decision to pursue missions under the influence of Evan Welsh; religious situation in Hawaii during World War II; ministry role in Hawaii; Honolulu Christian College (later Hawaii Pacific College); ministry role in Micronesia; work as a church leader in Hawaii; participating with Billy Graham in evangelistic services while they were college students; Graham’s courtship of Ruth Bell; pre-millenialism at Wheaton College and in missions; cosmopolitan atmosphere of Hawaii and solidarity of Christians as a minority of the population; Enock C. Dyrness; more on solidarity among Christians; influence of Rev. Takie Okumura [he is described but not mentioned by name in interview], founder of the Makiki Christian Church in Hawaii; effects of World War II on Wheaton; isolation of life at Wheaton; the 1943 revival at Wheaton College; Grady Wilson; work as a butcher during his college days; contacts with Wheaton alumni in Hawaii; letters from Dr. Edman and others about Wheaton that Terpstra planned to give to the College archives; disrupting the senior sneak with Billy Graham; importance of being true to Evangelical convictions; importance of not being judgmental of Christians of other beliefs; Charles Colson at the Honolulu mayor’s prayer breakfast; Jimmy Carter; early mission comity agreements which gave Alaska to the Presbyterians and Hawaii to the Congregationalists


The materials in this collection were given to the Wheaton College Special Collections and Archives by Chester Terpstra in May 1993. The WC Archives gave a copy of the interview to the Billy Graham Center Archives, since the BGC Archives staff had set up the interview.

Accession: 93-67
May 18, 2007
Bob Shuster
B. Brollier

Accession: 93-67
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE file.










3 3/4



Oral history interview of Chester Terpstra by Lawrence Thompson.


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