Billy Graham Center

Interview with Paul Groen - Collection 289

[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

Biography of Paul Groen

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)

Brief Description.

Two interviews in which Groen describes his education at Wheaton College, missionary work in Nigeria and the Nigerian church, particularly among the Tiv people, and the country's economy, educational system and political history between 1964 and 1973 when he worked in the country as a missionary with the Christian Reformed Church.

Collection 289 [April 3, 2000]
Groen, Paul; 1937-
Interviews; 1984

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.


Gerritt Paul Groen Jr., known as Paul, was born in Chicago, Illinois on June 9, 1937. His family moved to Wheaton, Illinois, around 1947. Groen was educated at Wheaton Christian Grammar School and Wheaton Academy (1951-1955). He attended Wheaton College (1955-1959), majoring in pre-med and intending to be a medical missionary. While a student, he also participated in sports and was a member of an evangelistic team which presented both music and message. He received his medical training at Baylor College of Medicine (1959-1963), after which he completed his internship at Philadelphia General Hospital (1963-1964).

Groen served as a missionary doctor with the Christian Reformed Church among the Tiv people in Nigeria (1964 to 1973). While based in Mkar for most of his term of service, he also served temporarily in Takum, which was located in a Hausa area. In 1965, he married Maxine Ohlman, also a missionary in Nigeria. He concluded his missionary service in 1973 in order to expand his medical experience. Upon returning to the United States, Groen studied at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, specializing in orthopedic medicine (1973-1976). He then returned to Wheaton, where he joined a medical practice (1976-1980). In 1980, he co-founded Sportsmed, a program combining a sports health club with orthopedic medical services in Wheaton. While living in Wheaton, he also served Wheaton College as one of its campus physicians. In 1992, Groen moved to Brunswick, Georgia, where he joined the staff of MAP International (formerly Medical Assistance Program) as Vice President of Worldwide Services. The Groens had two sons, G. Paul III and Joel.

Scope and Content

Dr. G. Paul Groen was interviewed by Brett Westbrook November 15 and December 6, 1984 at Groen's office in Carol Stream, Illinois. The time period covered by the interviews is 1947-1984. Time elapsed in minutes and seconds is recorded to the left of the topics discussed in the interview. The index is keyed to a cassette copy and not to the reel-to-reel original.

T1 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
02:15 Introduction to interview on November 15, 1984
02:30 Family emphasis on Christian education and environment, early Christian development, high school activities, influence of sports
07:30 Wheaton College: reason for attending, sports and other activities, Gospel team participation, social development, chapel, pranks, influence of science professors and Gil Dodds, student attitudes, impact of Jim Elliot's murder by Auca Indians in 1956
21:45 Medical school, functioning in a secular environment
24:30 Preparation to be a missionary: parents' encouragement, selecting a field and mission board, application process, board's missions strategy and operation in Nigeria, lack of orientation
32:15 Arrival in Nigeria: initial adjustment, first impressions, living conditions, language learning, African pace of life compared with hospital routine
37:45 Nigerian family structure, reaction to foreigners, social interaction with Nigerians, Western elements accompanying the Gospel
44:15 End of side 1

T1 - side 2
00:00 Beginning of tape
00:05 Overlap from side 1: social interaction, Western elements
02:45 Continuation on the Western influence
04:00 Tiv people: culture, physical features, five-day week, Westernization process, urbanization and disappearance of tribal ways
10:00 Tiv church: growth, fading influence of animism vs. problems of materialism, drinking, promiscuity, etc.
15:15 Relations with Muslims, relations with Catholics, tribalism
19:45 Tiv church: oral vs. written modes of learning, greater receptivity by women and children to the Gospel
22:15 End of side 2

T2 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
02:00 Tiv converts: society's discards became leaders through education, retention of converts
05:00 Tiv traditional beliefs and world view
09:45 Tiv church: typical worship service, national leadership, absence of spiritual nourishment from national leaders, evaluation of leadership, conflicts between church and missionaries
17:30 Mission administration in Nigeria: transfer to Muslim area, home mission board involvement
20:15 Ongoing need for missionaries, transition to greater national responsibility
23:30 Marriage on the mission field, his family
25:45 Medical work: hospital complex, staff, contrast in diseases by region, public attitude to medical missions, source of supplies, difficulty of educating nationals concerning health care, telephone system, average hospital day
36:00 End of tape and interview

T3 - side 1
00:00 Beginning of tape
03:00 Introduction to interview on December 6, 1984
03:30 Nigerian economy: transition from agriculture to oil-based, standard of living and inflation, materialism, urbanization
09:15 Nigerian politics and government: attitudes to missions, structure, tribalism as a cause of the civil war and Christians' reactions, relief aid to the Biafrans, post-war conditions
19:00 Nigerian educational system, mission contribution, literacy, high value of education, seminaries, foreign-trained church leaders
23:45 Reasons for departure, accomplishments and feelings about work, concern with ingrown phase of church development, involvement with MAP
29:45 American attitudes towards Nigeria, Nigerian attitudes towards the US, hopes for Nigerian Christians, concerns about syncretism, Africa's bleak future
33:45 Advice to people considering missions work
35:45 End of tape and interview


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in November and December 1984 from G. Paul Groen.

Acc.:84-137, 84-147
July 9, 1992
Paul A. Ericksen
C. Easley

December 29, 1992
M.L. Wohlschlegel

Accession : 84-137, 84-147
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 1 hour 4 minutes. One side only. Interview with Paul Groen by Brett Westbrook. Discussion of his education, decision to become a missionary and subsequent preparation, and observations about the Tiv people of Nigeria, their church and missionary work among them. Recorded on November 15, 1984.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 36 minutes. One side only. Continuation of interview with Paul Groen by Brett Westbrook. Discussion of the Tiv church in Nigeria, the tribal leadership, and medical missionary work. Recorded on November 15, 1984.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 i.p.s., 35 minutes. One side only. Interview with Paul Groen by Brett Westbrook. Discussion of Nigeria's economy, politics and government, specifically the 1966 civil war, its educations system, and the Groen's departure from Nigeria. Recorded on December 16, 1984.

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Last Revised: 9/09/02
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