Billy Graham Center

Papers of Mary Lee & Albert Edward Bobby - Collection 171

[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. ]

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Table of Contents

Brief Description of This Collection

Title Page and Restrictions

Biographies of Al and Mary Lee Bobby

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

Lists of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Audio file and written transcript for T3

List of the Contents of Boxes of Paper Records in This Collection

Audio file and written transcript for T3

Brief Description.
Published articles, correspondence, prayer letters, manuscript notes, and one interview with each of the Bobbys which all concern the mission work in Portugal of the Bobbys and others under the Evangelical Alliance Mission. Among their activities was radio broadcasting. The interviews with the Bobbys were recorded in 1982.

Collection 171 [May, 31, 2002]
Bobby, Mary Lee (1928-) and Albert Edward (1925-1998)
Papers; 1953-1978, n.d.
1 Box (DC; .4 cubic feet), Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Mary Lee Turner was born February 5, 1928, in Atalissa, Iowa, the daughter of Leonard Anthony and Mary Lettie Pampel Turner. Her father was a minister and evangelist, the son of English immigrants who came to America in 1871 to take advantage of the Homestead Act. Mary's paternal grandfather authored a book, Pioneers of the West. Her mother had been a Kansas schoolteacher prior to marriage.

Mary Lee received a B.A. degree from Wheaton College in 1949. She studied further at the University of Lisbon, Portugal, and was awarded an M.Ed. degree from the University of Maryland in 1977. She was married in Washington, D.C., August 13, 1949, to Albert Edward Bobby, he was born in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania, December 31, 1925, to Lutheran parents John Bobal and Annie Furcho. John Bobal, a coal-mining immigrant from Austria-Hungary, anglicized his surname to Bobby. By 1933, John Bobby had lost both of his legs in separate mining accidents. Albert and Mary Lee Bobby were the parents of three children: Patricia Joanne (later Mrs. Kenneth Zint), born 1951; Janet Lee (later Mrs. Tom Pack), born 1954; and Jonathan Dwight, born 1960. The first was born in Elmhurst, Illinois, the second and third in Lisbon, Portugal.

Albert Bobby served in the United States Navy during World War II, and later as a statistician with the Department of the Interior where Mary worked as a secretary. He graduated from Moody Bible Institute in 1952 and from 1953 to 1961 the couple served as missionaries under The Evangelical Alliance Mission (TEAM). Upon returning to America in 1961, he took a position as an analyst with the U. S. Department of Defense, where he also taught Portuguese courses, and made occasional short visits to Portugal in the interests of literature work. Following their return to the States, Mary Lee taught elementary school, and directed a day care center/nursery school. Albert Bobby died in 1998.

In 1982, the Bobbys were living in Bowie, Maryland, and attending Georgetown Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., an English- and Portuguese- speaking congregation. Al was involved in frequent pulpit supply, and Mary Lee directed the choir.

Scope and Content

[NOTE: In the Scope & Content section, the notation "folder 2-5" means box 2, folder 5.]

The materials in this collection document the Bobbys' service in Lisbon and Santiago do Cacem, Portugal, under TEAM. Eight articles (folder 1-1) concern various aspects of missionary life; they were all published in TEAM's monthly magazine, The Missionary Broadcaster. One article, "I Saw it Work," published in November 1955, was written by Jose Illido Freire, a Portuguese pastor, and concerns the tract ministry in Portugal. The other seven articles were authored by Mary Lee Bobby.

April 1955 "Good Friday Procession"
December 1956 "Portugal Youth Conference Held"
December 1956 "More Blessed to Give," concerning Portuguese women
January 1957 "Portuguese School Teacher"
January 1957 "Youth Goes to Camp"
May 1958 "Onlookers at a Spanish Funeral"
February 1959 "Bread Basket of Portugal," concerning mission work in the southern province of Alentejo.

Correspondence (folder 1-2) concerns articles in The Missionary Broadcaster and includes a carbon of a 1956 letter giving prayer requests of the Portugal mission served by the Bobbys. Field Briefs (folder 1-3) are clippings from The Missionary Broadcaster concerning the Bobbys.

Notes (folder 1-4) are the heart of the collection. These are manuscript writings, parallel to journal entries in form and content, reflecting Portugal as Mary Lee Bobby encountered it. Topics discussed are: Portuguese culture (including family relationships and sex roles as defined within the culture), language, customs, personal witnessing, problems, Roman Catholicism, dress, and teenagers.

Twenty-one prayer letters (folder 1-5) cover the Bobbys' mission work from their arrival in Lisbon in 1953 to 1964 when they were living in Maryland, and at which point it had become clear that they would not be returning to Europe permanently. These letters emphasize the radio and literature evangelism and personal witnessing, all of which were important activities of the Portugal mission.

The correspondence in folders 1-6 and 1-7 concerns primarily the work of TEAM in Portugal as carried out by several missionary couples. Folder 1-6 details the Bobbys' own work there while folder 1-7 follows the history of the work after their departure in 1961. Of interest in folder 1-6, broken down chronologically, are these topics:

1953-1954 Difficulty experienced by sponsoring church in working within TEAM's financial policies; Portugal's politics; visa problems; insurance claims on items damaged in transit.
1955-1956 Bobbys' short sojourn in Santiago do Cacem; political upheaval; radio work.
1959-1961 Bookstore/radio work; camp work; tract work

Correspondence in folder 1-7 is the Bobbys' letters to several other missionary couples in Portugal: Luke and Ruth Boughter, Stanley and Francisca Foreid, Magnus and Clara Foreid, Dean and Laurie Fredrikson, and J. C. and Barbara Ghouldston. While there are no letters from these missionaries, some of the mission work is reflected in the letters that are here. Folder 1-8 contains letters between members of the Bobby family, giving a view into interpersonal relationships within a missionary family.

Miscellaneous correspondence (folder 1-9) includes a letter of support to Carl McIntire; congratulations to Steven Tchividjian on his upcoming marriage to Virginia Graham; a warning about a dubious national worker in Portugal (see Nealy letters); thoughts on the house-church concept (see Pethybridge letter); and the Bobbys' continued interest in the Portuguese work all through the time that their status with TEAM was in flux.

Folder 1-10 contains documentation about the tongues movement's impact on the work of TEAM in Lisbon, 1961-1962. It includes personal correspondence and committee meeting minutes, dealing with the sensitive issue which resulted in a break between some of the local churches and TEAM support.

Mary Lee Bobby was interviewed in her home in Bowie, Maryland, by Galen Wilson on May 21, 1982. Background noises on the tape are: a clock in the room, and (near the beginning of the tape) a blow-drier being used elsewhere in the house. The index is keyed to the cassette copy, not the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1
Beginning of tape
Birth; home; family life
Father's ministry; his death; his influence on her life; Paul Rader mentioned
Home life after father's death; his refusal to buy insurance
Brother Dwight's military service, World War II; prayer saves his life in battle
Dwight's death later in the war; insurance pays for Mary Lee's college education
She hears V. Raymond Edman speak in Washington, D.C.; and decides to go to Wheaton
Personal salvation: her coming to Christ at age five contrasted with a boy across the street who also came to Christ at the same time
Summer camp at age twelve--a second, more mature, salvation experience
Realization of obligation to give life to God, age fourteen, at a John Linton evangelistic meeting in Washington
Bible study in high school; John Miller (later of Young Life) and his association with Bible study
High school accrediting association visits school and is impressed with Mary Lee's prayer at memorial service for Franklin D. Roosevelt
Application to Wheaton; experiences in college
Chapel message by Edman on "It's Always Too Soon to Quit," and how God has continually used this message in her life
Marriage prep course at Wheaton--expectations of course and disappointment in it
Philosophy of biblical idea of marriage
"Marriage and the Home" seminar she and others have given in Portuguese-speaking church in Washington recently; the home as a mirror of Christ and the Church; submission in marriage
Looking to the mission field; her marriage to Albert Bobby; Moody Bible Institute; association with TEAM; decision for Portugal
Packing; sailing for Portugal, 1953
Voyage and experiences on board with winter crossing; excellent description of church service on board
End of side 1

T1 - side 2
[Overlap from side 1]
Voyage and experiences on board with winter crossing; excellent description of church service on board [Continued]
The actualities of the mission field ("you are on the firing line") as opposed to the rosy picture of missions as perceived while still in North America
Landing in Lisbon; story of host family and their poor treatment of their children believing it to be proper; dynamics of family life
Interaction of missionaries; strong personality of one missionary who dominated meetings, etc.
Working out husband-wife relationships while in the mission field; dynamics of marriage
The Bobbys' transfer to southern provinces and immediate return to Lisbon because of government refusal to let them remain; a bit of work done in the interim while there
Story of an armed uprising in Lisbon; her peace with God while in midst of fray
Return to Lisbon; the Bobbys are obligated to live for a while with the family referred to above
Purchase of a piano; other missionaries; views of extravagance; TEAM's monetary policies
Their host family's continued ill treatment of children; strictness and physical abuse; subsequent development of the children
Experiences of living in close quarters with other missionaries while in Spain; proprietor of pension treats the Bobbys' daughter poorly
Living conditions in pension
Conflicting views among missionaries about child-rearing; results of strict up-bringing: atheism and agnosticism
Rearing children in Portugal compared to rearing them in U.S.A.; advantages--exposure to breadth of other culture
Diplomats' children receive Christ at a missionary camp
Disadvantages of bringing children up in foreign culture--maid does the work and to make children do chores is an offense to the maid
Adapting to culture easier for children than adults
Mary Lee's difficulty in dealing with lack of equality of people in Portugal; native reaction to Americans who try to buck the system
Her horror at treatment of maid in a better-class home gets her into trouble when her opinions get back to the home owners
Contextualization of gospel into culture where equality of all persons is not accepted; care to be taken in not radically upsetting culture; difficulty of trying to instill American values of responsibility and democracy into foreign immigrants to America
Creativity as an American commodity--any gadget in Portugal referred to as an "americano"
End of side 2

T1 - side 3
[Overlap from side 1]
Creativity as an American commodity--any gadget in Portugal referred to as an "americano" [Continued]
Translating Evangelical Christianity into a culture where Christ is known in a Catholic context; importance of Virgin Mary to women; concept of a living Christ foreign to Portugal
Success in ministry among Portuguese men; teaching adults to read as a part of the ministry; an illiterate Christian gives a stirring testimony at a Catholic funeral
Lisbon church where they attended broken up
Her advice to potential new missionaries: get to know the word thoroughly and personally because Satan uses uncertainty on missionary's part to cause confusion
Example 1: Sabbath day observance repudiated by missionary
Example 2: Tongues movement in Portugal
Proselytization for tongues by a Swiss fellow and a Dutch fellow
Mary Lee's own involvement with tongues in seeking to become a better servant of God while in Portugal
They come back to U.S.A. in 1961; Mary Lee continues to be confronted with tongues
She receives the gift of speaking in tongues
She wants to join a Washington D.C. church which denies that tongues are for today; pastor gives her The Modern Tongues Movement to read; her spiritual battle ensues
At end of search, she decides that what she had was not of the Holy Spirit and that tongues are not for today
End of side 2

T2 - side 1 (a continuation of T1)
Beginning of tape
Mary Lee discovers that in 1955-1956 the Pentecostal church had a movement to infiltrate other churches with the news of a "second blessing," which correlates to her first encounter
If tongues not from Holy Spirit, then where? Her philosophy: can come from 1) Holy Spirit, 2) yourself--a psychological phenomenon, 3) a deception of Satan
A woman who received tongues under her influence still believes in it while Mary Lee has repudiated it
One must search Scriptures constantly to avoid deception
How the church in Lisbon split
Leader in church (Portuguese) marries an unfaithful woman and divorces her
Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship meeting in Switzerland in 1955--this church leader receives tongues and comes home to loudly proclaim it; church eventually disbands
Description of TEAM's various ministries in Portugal
The Bobbys come home in 1961; gradual realization that they will not return
Her mother's illness; demon possession
Mary Lee orders demon out
Request to church elders to pray and anoint her mother; lukewarm attitude of church; emotional drain of dealing with the situation
Relief when her mother dies; Mary Lee's assurance of her mother's salvation
Work for Christ subsequent to coming home from Portugal: public school teaching; Portuguese-speaking church in Georgetown
Prayer in public school taken away by Supreme Court; Mary Lee manages to stretch the law
[End of first section of interview; continued later the same day]
Demon possession in Portugal
Entrenchment of Roman Catholicism in Portugal
Case histories of demon possession
Witches operating with sanction of Catholic Church
More case histories of demon possession
Satan works more covertly in America; overtly in "a land of darkness"
Her advice to a younger missionary; his daughter's demon possession seen as Satan's way of needling Christians out of Portugal
Closing remarks: advice to folks preparing for mission field--importance of assurance of call and prayer support
End of side 1

T2 - side 2
[Overlap from side 1]
Closing remarks: advice to folks preparing for mission field--importance of assurance of call and prayer support [Continued]
Experiences of a "ministry of prayer"
End of tape


Albert Bobby was interviewed by Galen Wilson on May 21, 1982, at his home in Bowie, Maryland. Background noises on the tape are: a clock in the room, the rocking chair in which Mr. Bobby sat, and the telephone. The index is keyed to the cassette copy, not the reel-to-reel original.

T3 (95 minutes).
Birth; family life; parents; father's coal mine accidents costing him his legs; parents' religious background; age seventeen--he comes to Washington, D.C.; personal coming to Christ
Christian work while in military, World War II; Moody Bible Institute; searches for a focus for interest in Christian work; interest in prayer groups; his "call" to Portugal; decision not to go on for more education but to go straight to the mission field; TEAM--decision to go with them; expectations of mission in Portugal; description of living conditions with Portuguese family where they stayed in order to learn Portuguese ways; language study; importance of having other men with whom to practice speaking in Portuguese; radio work; government's thoughts about the mission radio work; his specific duties
Literature ministry; camp ministry; Portuguese culture; Roman Catholic Church in Portugal and its influence on the mission work; reason why more women than men became Christians; Roman Catholic Church seen as part of "being Portuguese" linked with his own experience of his parents' seeing Lutheranism as part of their culture; problems of presenting Christ to a nominally Christian society
Male-female relationships in Portugal--influence on opportunities for mission work; his efforts to keep self in background and keep Portuguese nationals up front; effectiveness of working with those who already are Christians, and getting them to go out and lead others to Christ; role of family in Portuguese social structure; TEAM missionaries' inter-relations; importance of working together and of mutual appreciation; importance of church back home fully comprehending the variety of mission work, and the value of each facet, more than just the statistics of soul-saving; concept of "love in action;" importance of nationals perceiving this love on part of missionariesl;concept of "love in action;" importance of nationals perceiving this love on part of missionaries; Hierarchy of Portuguese intimacies--reference to one in second person or third person infers the degree of intimacy; difficulty for a foreigner to achieve the greater intimacy; standard of living: Portuguese expectations of the way missionaries ought to live and the American understanding of those expectations--the interaction of these two things as part of mutual interworking; Portuguese vs. American values as to where money ought to be spent
Adjusting one's own attitudes and practices in order to be accepted in Portugal; raising children as Americans in a foreign culture; schools chosen because of American textbooks (no m.k. school available); effect of foreign rearing on children, especially in regard to schools; Bobbys come home from the field in 1961--obligation to care for Mary Lee's mother who was ill; eventual realization that they will not go back; Al returns to Portugal to break up housekeeping; psychological effects of coming home; continuation of the work via correspondence, interest, and prayer; Georgetown Baptist Church's Portuguese-speaking services; the ministry the Bobby's have there; description of the church they attended in Lisbon: worship services and church government (every Thursday, the men of the church meet to discuss things); problem of tongues in that church, unity of church in jeopardy, church disbands; music in Portuguese church; translating the gospel and the Church into a Portuguese context; danger of the gospel being seen as a foreign thing; Portuguese pride and distrust of outsiders.



The materials in this collection were given to the Center by Mary Lee Bobby in April 1980, January 1981, and May 1982. The documents in folders 1-6 to 1-10 were photocopied from originals loaned by the Bobbys, and the original were returned.

Accession 80-53, 82-77
December 7, 1981
Galen R. Wilson
J. Nasgowitz

October 21, 1982
Galen R. Wilson

Accession 82-77
Type of Material: Audio Tapes
The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 113 minutes. Two sides. Interview of Mary Lee Bobby by Galen R. Wilson on May 21, 1982.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 48 minutes. One side. Continuation of T1.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 speed, 93 minutes. Two sides. Interview of Albert Bobby by Galen R. Wilson on May 21, 1982.

Box Folder Item
1 1 Articles; 1955-59
1 2 Correspondence; 1956
1 3 Field Briefs; 1953-58
1 4 Notes; 1955-56, n.d.
1 5 Prayer Letters; 1953-64
1 6 1953-61
1 7 1962-78
1 8 Bobby family; 1962, 1969
1 9 Miscellaneous; 1963-76
1 10 Pentecostal controversy; 1961-62

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Last Revised: 5/31/02
Expiration: indefinite