Billy Graham Center

Burt Elmer Long - Collection 351

[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 Burt Elmer Long

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

List of Audio Tapes in This Collection (Location Records)


Transcript 1

Transcript 2

Transcript 3

Brief Description.

Oral history interviews of Long by Wheaton College student Heather Conley in which Long discusses his memories of Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle, his education at Wheaton College, and his decades of services as a medical missionary for Sudan Interior Mission in Niger and Nigeria.

Collection 351 [April 19, 2000]
Long, Burt Elmer; 1918-
Interviews; 1986

Audio Tapes


There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.



Burt Elmer Long was born in 1918 In Iowa City, Iowa, the oldest child of Ritchie and Lasca Long. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from Carl Schurz High School in 1935. While growing up, he was deeply influenced by evangelical pastors Paul Rader of the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle and Lance Latham of the North side Gospel Center. By that time he had already felt a call to be both a doctor and a missionary. After working for over a year manufacturing leather goods, he enrolled in Wheaton College in 1936. After graduating in 1940 he went to medical school at the University of Illinois College of medicine. He received his M.D. in 1943. In 1945 he married Ruth Hollander, a fellow Wheaton grad. The couple spent some time in St. Louis, where Long was senior surgical resident at the Missouri Baptist Hospital. After a stint of Army service at a hospital in Alaska, he and Ruth joined the Sudan Interior Mission in 1949 and went, along with their children Roland Vance and Lance Vaughn (born 1946 and 1949) to Niger in 1950.

The Longs were assigned to the SIM station near the village of Galmi among the Hausa people, where they started a hospital in a building built the year before their arrival. For sixteen years, Burt was the only doctor on the staff of what quickly became a very busy facility. He and Ruth were also deeply involved in the many programs of evangelism carried out at the hospital. In 1965, for example, the hospital had a capacity of 120 beds and activities included four weekly children's clubs, three daily vacation Bible schools, Bible reading programs and Sunday School classes, in addition to the church meeting on the compound. During their years of service in Niger they had four more children (Cheryl Michelle, born 1951; John Richard, born 1952; Suzanne Jeanne, born 1955; and Pamela Marjorie, born 1959). Cheryl, John and Pamela were all delivered by their father. In 1964 Burt was made Chevalier (Knight) of the National Order of Niger because of his medical work. They took furloughs to the United States in 1955, 1960-61, 1965-1966 and 1970-71.

In 1975, partly because of mission policy and partly because of disagreements with the new SIM regional director, the Longs went to Jos, Nigeria. Ruth taught Biblical knowledge in the government schools and Burt was one of the doctors of SIM's Evangel Hospital. They returned to the United States on furloughs in 1976, 1978, 1981. In 1977, the Nigerian government took over Evangel Hospital, but it returned it to the control of the Evangelical Churches of West Africa (the denomination that grew out of congregations started by SIM) in 1979. Burt continued to practice there through these changes, while staying on the staff of SIM. He also visited other mission hospitals as a supervisor and consultant. Both Burt and Ruth retired in 1984 and returned to Wheaton to live in October. They continued to be involved in various short term missionary projects, such as working at ELWA hospital in Liberia in 1986, returning to Galmi for three months in 1989-90 and working in Chad in 1991.

Scope and Content

Burt Long was interviewed by Wheaton College student Heather Conley on November 26 and December 3, 1986. The time period covered by the interviews is from ca. 1932 until 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 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
01:00 Introduction
01:30 Influence of Paul Rader on Long during his youth; the Chicago Gospel
Tabernacle and its collapse; decision to be a missionary doctor when he was fourteen; preparation for missionary work
09:15 Reasons for going to Wheaton College; Wheaton's reputation in 1937; interest in
pre medical program; grading system at Wheaton; concentrated on classes instead of social activities; Foreign Mission Fellowship; emphasis on math and science in his studies
15:45 Long's extensive Bible knowledge; memories of professors: Paul Wright, James
Mack, John W. Leedy, others; Isaac Page and other missionary speakers on campus; interest in missions among the students; speeding up of his surgical training because of World War II; service at an Army hospital in Alaska; founding of Arctic Missions by John Gillespie
23:00 Impact of the great Depression on the student body; recollections of Billy
Graham as a student; feeling at the College that it was important to produce well-educated leaders for the Fundamentalist movement
27:30 Influence pastor Lance Latham of the North side Gospel Center on Long's
decision to be a missionary; reason for choosing Sudan Interior Mission (SIM); warning of Douglas Hursh about mission work; classmates who became missionaries
34:15 Management methods and structure of Sudan Interior Mission; reason for
Wycliffe Bible Translators leaving Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association; SIM's efforts to develop African churches; SIM's efforts to work in the interior of Africa; the hospital as source of evangelism
41:45 Description of Niger's tribes and languages; French colonial policy
44:00 End of side 1

T1 - side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:15 Continuation of discussion of tribes in Niger; cooperation of missions in
assigning where their workers went; French opposition to missionary activity; building of the SIM hospital at Galmi; studying French in Paris; status of wives in the SIM; first impressions of Niger and living conditions of missionaries
07:30 Description of Long's work at the hospital; nationwide reputation of the hospital
among the Hausa; learning the Hausa language; reasons for dissatisfaction with doing medical interviews through an interpreter; importance of vulgar terms; use of street meetings; development of hospital chaplains and evangelism methods at the hospital
14:15 Opposition from Muslim cultists; contacts with rich and poor; domination of the
Hausa in the country; collapse of the elaborate governmental and economic structure established by the colonial powers after African independence succeeded
19:45 Importance of Bible classes in the mission's work; the influence of tribalism on
the growth of the church; importance of missions for the development of literacy and health clinics; similarities between Palestinian and SubSaharan lifestyles; work among women; great growth of the church results in poorly trained pastors
26:15 Dangers involved in converting from Islam to Christianity; difficulty in starting
churches in a Muslin community; training of converts in Christian work; all patients at hospital led by nurses through a course on the doctrines of Christianity
32:00 William McCarrell's advice on witnessing; format of worship services at churches
in Niger; baptism of believers and Muslim's ostracism of Christian converts; part played by the SIM home board in the United States
37:30 End of tape

T2 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
00:15 Comparison of; use of herbs and incantations; similarities to folk m Niger vs. Nigeria; Hausa tribe split by border established by
colonial powers; poverty of Niger; famines two years out of five; dietary restrictions abandoned during famine; French colonial policy limited opportunities for development and self government
07:00 Limited educational opportunities in Niger and Nigeria; description of Koranic
schools; description of limited opportunities in Niger; importance of farming in Niger; details of farming practices and growing season; types of crops; work of blacksmiths
14:30 Relations between African servants and French colonists; French men commonly
took African wives or mistresses; good treatment and education of mulatto children; Africans' rejection of any mulattos after independence; importance of the Zuberma tribe and Hausa tribe in Niger
19:45 Attitudes of Nigerians toward the British; French attitudes toward missionaries;
attitude of the national Niger government toward missionaries; French attitudes toward Protestantism; Catholic mission work in Niger limited to large cities
26:00 Reason for the slowness of church growth in Niger; freedom of religion in the
country; debate in Nigeria over becoming an Islamic Republic; friendliness of Hausa people to Protestant missionaries; Niger's diplomatic relations to its neighbors; resistance to any form of foreign control; popularity of American goods; import duties; reasons for the waste of American economic and famine aid
35:45 Missionary involvement in distribution of famine supplies to Niger; description
of hospital in Galmi; pressure of Long's work load as sole doctor for 16 years; native medical practitioners known as bonesetters edical practices in the United States
43:45 End of side 1 of tape

T2- side 2
00:00 Start of tape
00:06 Overlap from the end of side 1
04:30 Examples of the hospital as the last resort for people in Niger; witnessing to
the dying; sources for medical supplies; government's inability to adequately supply hospital; treatment of cancer in Niger; common diseases caused by bacteria and parasites; part of missionary wives in developing health clinics; shortage of nurses; development of African workers to run clinics
15:00 Part of missionary wives in developing schools; missions should provide model
schools and hospitals which the government eventually takes over; plans for transfer of the mission hospital to the indigenous church's control in Nigeria; Christian bookstores; church in Niger supports Christian school; Bible school in Niamey for the training of church leaders; a Hausa language Bible School; levels of schools used to develop serious students
23:45 Farming out of natural resources in Niger to France; difficulties of
industrialization in the country; reasons for the low profitability of farming; growth of cities fueled by famines
29:45 Development of churches near mission stations; first church built by indigenous
Christians just completed near Galmi; slow growth of indigenous churches; church discipline; low level of relations between the Evangelical Churches of West Africa in Nigeria and the Eglise Evangelique de la Republique de Niger (EERN); SIM's supervisory role to EERN; criteria for turning over control to indigenous church
35:05 Reason for the low church growth in Niger; cooperation with Baptist
Mid-Mission group
39:15 End of tape

T3 - side 1 (Click to link to the transcript of this tape)
00:00 Start of tape
00:10 Lack of contact with Catholic missionaries; theological background of SIM
members; influence of the growth of evangelicalism in the United States on SIM; SIM's stand on inerrancy of Scriptures cause of breaking of ties with Fuller Theological Seminary; removal of older missionaries in SIM and the reorganization of the mission; conflict with the mission's new regional director
06:45 Political changes causing difference in the mission's organization of schools and
hospitals; retirement policy in SIM; reason for Long's retirement; replacement of missionary doctors with African doctors; preventive medicine; Long's current activities
12:00 Views on relations between missions and indigenous churches; policy of Wycliffe
Bible Translators and SIM for leaving a country; example of Sudan; good relations with church are high priority
15:15 End of tape.


The materials in this collection were received by the Center in November and December 1986 from Burt Long

Acc.: 86-131, 86-133
June 18, 1993
Robert Shuster
K. Cox

Accession : 86-131, 133
Type of material: Audio Tapes

The following items are located in the AUDIO TAPE FILE:

T1 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 81 minutes, one side only. Interview with Burt E. Long by Heather Conley. Topics include Paul Rader and the Chicago Gospel Tabernacle; education at Wheaton College, recruitment by the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM); the Hausa people of Niger; his work as a doctor in Niger; evangelism methods in that country; relations between Muslims and Christians. Recorded on November 26, 1986.

T2 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 78 minutes, one side only. Interview with Burt E. Long by Heather Conley. Topics include comparison of Niger and Nigeria, French colonial policy in that Niger, farming practices, relations of missionaries with the colonial government and the national government, mission involvement in famine relief, the work of the SIM hospital in Galmi, the development of the indigenous church in Niger. Recorded December 3, 1986.

T3 - Reel-to-reel, 3-3/4 ips, approximately 15 minutes, one side only. Continuation of T2. Topics include SIM's theological background, reasons for Long's retirement, relations missions and national churches.

Send us a message

Return to BGC Archives Home Page
Last Revised: 9/09/02
Expiration: indefinite