This is a complete and accurate transcript of the tape of the oral history interview of Vincent Leroy Crossett (CN 288 T7) in the Archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words have been omitted, except for any non-English phrases which could not be understood by the transcribers. Foreign terms which are not commonly understood appear in italics. In very few cases words were too unclear to be distinguished. If the transcriber was not completely sure of having gotten what the speaker said, "[?]" was inserted after the word or phrase in question. If the speech was inaudible or indistinguishable, "[unclear]" was inserted. Grunts and verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Place names in non-Western alphabets are spelled in the transcript in the old or new transliteration form according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus, Peking is used instead of Beijing, because that is how the interviewee pronounced it. Chinese terms and phrases which could be understood were spelled as they were pronounced with some attempt made to identify the accepted transliterated form which corresponds to it. Readers should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence on the part of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
( ) Words in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
[ ] Words in brackets are comments by the transcriber.
This transcript was made by Arnila Santoso and Paul Ericksen was completed in February 2003.
Collection 288, T7. Interview of Vincent Leroy Crossett by Paul Ericksen, May 30, 1986.
ERICKSEN: This is an oral history interview with Vincent Leroy Crossett, for the Missionary Sources Collection of Wheaton College. This interview took place at the offices of the Billy Graham Center Archives, at Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois, on May 30, 1986, at 3:30 p.m. Well, Reverend Crossett, I would like to start out just picking up a couple of loose ends from our past interviews. One thing that your wife told me about was an extended prayer meeting that you had with, I believe it was Mr. [Dixon] Hoste. Was he the one who used to invite men to pray and then he would pray? Can you tell me about that?
CROSSETT: Yes, he'd invite people in to pray with him. And I think he wanted to not only pray but he also wanted to get into the mind of the person and see just...his praying habits, and how...how easy it was just to...he wanted to get to know the people. And he invited me in once. And well, we just started talking and then he started praying. I mean very casual, very informal. And I remember once as we were praying, then he...he would walk around...walk around the room and he was praying. And all of a sudden he said, "Look over there at that temple, what they're doing over there." In other words his eyes were busy too. But he was...it was...prayer just came so natural to him, just as though the Lord was right there. And it was...it was interesting. An hour, an hour-and-a -half, two hours sometimes. He was a man of prayer.
ERICKSEN: The other thing that we talked about in our last interview was about your contact with John Birch. We really didn't talk much about him. What do you remember about him? What kind of a person was he?
CROSSETT: He was a fine young man. Tall and...and straight. You'd look at him, you'd be attracted to him. And he was a very fine Christian. He had been a Baptist missionary, and, I think, during the war he applied to the 14th Air Force. He was accepted as sort of...because he knew...he knew the country and he knew the people. And...and he was very valuable to them. He was a...he comes from a very fine Christian family. His parents were fine Christians. He had five brothers, I think. And he was...most of them, they're very missionary-minded. And they had...most of them were missionaries. John went to... went to China, and...and [pauses] they...they...he...he was very interested in...in...in spreading the gospel. And of course, he was interested in spreading the gospel even when he was in the service. But he was back of the lines to carry on communica...teach communications and demolition to the Chinese. And he...he was sort of hidden. They...they'd move their base from time to time to keep it out of the range...out of the knowledge of the Japanese. And they were doing a tremendous work back there and he was used...he was used in...he knew the activities of the American forces, and he also through them knew the activities of the Japanese, and...and, oh, he was really...very much a sort of...should I say espionage? Knew the movements of the Japanese troops. He got them from the...and Japanese Navy, and so forth. And so they could lay down these...these surprises for them when they tried to land and so forth. It was very dangerous but a very, very effective thing for the...for the Allied forces, [coughs] Chinese and American.
ERICKSEN: Now how long after you knew him was he killed?
CROSSETT: He was killed after the war. And when I knew him he took me in...six months before the war. That's when I went out, but he'd been in there for a year or two or more, I don't know just how long. But he'd arranged for my getting out six months before the end of the war. And at the end of the war the American forces asked him to go up and see how things were in north China. The Japanese...I mean, the Communists didn't like that and so they just...they just caught him and butchered him. Oh, they just cut him all up. And, oh, terrible the way they treated him. The government never made that known.
ERICKSEN: Our government?
CROSSETT: Our government never made that known. And that...because of that, this fellow [Robert] Welch, the founder of the John Birch Society [named after Birch because he was supposed to have been the first casualty of the Cold War] was sent by the government in there to sort of search this out. And he found these things and he found also that the government was...was hiding them, was not making it known. They were keeping it quiet. They didn't want to offend the...the Communists. And so he thought this is not what should be done and he started investigating other incidents of atrocities in other areas. You see, he was with the government originally, and he saw that the government was certainly favoring the Communists in most every place. And so he thought, "This is not American. This should be made known." So the John Birch Society was founded as a hundred percent American [laughs] organization. And the government didn't like it, and so they just immediately started to campaign to put it down. And that's what most people believe now, that John Birch Society is a bad thing. But it isn't. When we came home, we wanted to see his father, his parents, and I wanted to thank them for what they'd done for me. And so we looked them up. They had a unlisted number but we did have a missionary friend who was very close to them. And they gave me the number. And so when we were down in Macon, Georgia, I called them up. And they immediately or instant invited us over. They said, "We're having a John Birch Society meeting tonight in our home." And oh, it was...it was great. They had me tell of all my experiences with John Birch. And...and they recorded it. And then [laughs] they used it in their...their meetings. But it was...they gave me a copy. I'm not sure whether I have it now or not because we're cutting down everything, and I'm getting rid of a lot of things that I didn't feel absolutely essential in our retirement. But they are...they...they have a prophet's chamber [apparently a place of rest for traveling missionaries or ministers, based on space set aside for Elisha to stay at the Shunammite woman's home in 2 Kings 4:8-10]. We stayed there, just...just made for missionaries going through. And they're always welcome in their home. Fine Christian family, the whole family.
ERICKSEN: Well, I think when we...we finished our last interview we had completed talking about your time in Hawaii.
ERICKSEN: When did you begin thinking about going back to the mission field?
CROSSETT: Well, of course, our hearts were out there all the time, and when we went to Hawaii there was a thought that we might not get back, because when I went back I was already fifty-four and I didn't know what the place would be. But when our girl...I mean, what the opportunities would be as far as mission is concerned. And since we...since we had resigned, the war had come to an end, the mission had spread out from China to eleven...eleven different countries, and just what the place would be for Chinese-speaking people, because we followed the Chinese where they refugeed, and all of us knew Mandarin, and all of us could work with the Chinese refugees, but when we got into a country we immediately saw the opportunities to work with the local people, and so the new missionaries all started studying the language of the country. See, we were going into Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Korea. And they started learning those languages. And the older missionaries worked with the Chinese, and...and some of them started to study the language too, and so it spread out. We didn't know where we just might fit in. And yet we felt that we wanted to apply. So I applied [clears throat], and we were accepted. It took us about six months to go through the routine, about as fast as anybody could ever get in the mission. And then they were in need of a...what they call local secretaries, somebody to take care of all the accounts and...and do correspondence in Taiwan. And since that...the official language is Mandarin and that's what we knew, they just asked if we were willing to go. No training, no experience, and yet they asked me to do it. And I had a good one month with the retiring local secretary and she really put me through it. Got everything written down so I knew just [laughs] what to do. So I did that for two-and-a-half years. They sent us where they had a need. I had no particular preference. But where the Chinese...naturally, I...I wouldn't want to...at fifty-four I wasn't going to start studying a new language particularly. I'm not that good a linguist.
ERICKSEN: How did you...how did you like the work being the secretary?
CROSSETT: I liked it fine. I liked it fine. And the...I was very proud when the treasurer of the mission in Singapore, he wrote to me and he said that I'd done [laughs] a better job than anybody that had had the job so far, 'cause it was something that was just dumped on...on those. No one that had...that had had it, had had formal training. It just had to be done, and so it was done by people available. And he...so I...I followed the rules and he said I did [laughs] a better job than others. Others had to sort of feel their way [laughs]. And then of course, one of the big problems: you not only had the exchange from...from U.S. money into Taiwanese money, but the exchange varied constantly and so you had to figure all that, that loss in exchange, gain in exchange, and something totally foreign to me and the others had to do it. But while I was there the exchange was pretty well fixed at forty to one, sometimes thirty-six, but it...it held right in there. So it was...after I left it started fluctuating again [laughs]. But it was [laughs] just...just made for me.
ERICKSEN: And then how...how was it decided that you would work among the tribal people?
CROSSETT: Well, when we were...when I was working as the local sec[retary], that took about half my time. We only had about fifty...fifty, sixty missionaries. Of course, I had two accounts for each one. One for a missionary for the mission, and one for the private accounts. And to me that was a big job. But nevertheless, it only took up about half the time. And so between the end of the month and the beginning of the month when you had to make all the reports out and...and over the month-end it was really busy. But in between I would have time where I could go out. They invited me to...in some of the Taiwanese churches, Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese churches sometimes. And then they also invited me into the mountains and would work among the tribes. And so I would go in sometimes four or five days in the middle of the month, and [clears throat] gradually they worked in more and more, until...until most of my spare time was spent in the mountains. It just sort of fell that way, and I had an interest in the tribes, of course. It just developed naturally [laughs].
ERICKSEN: And so how did it happen then that you were transferred into the...the Bible Institute?
CROSSETT: Well, somehow I had mentioned some way that I would like to get into Bible teaching, and they couldn't let me loo...loose from the local sec's [secretary's] job. But then the Carlburgs [Ernest and Geneva] were (I don't know whether you know them or not. They're from...from Wheaton...)
ERICKSEN: I've heard the name.
CROSSETT: I mean, they lived [unclear] for a long time...and they were willing to come out and take over the local sec's jo...sec's job. And...and I at that time had been given an invitation to go and teach in the Yu-shan Theological Institute, both my wife and myself, and so when they had Mr. Carlburg come out to take over the local sec. job, I was released and so I went through all of the examination necessary to get on the faculty, and...and I examined them pretty thoroughly too, to see if that's the place I wanted to go. And I finally accepted, went over there, and we spent seven years, seven-and-a-half years over there.
ERICKSEN: What...what was the examination like?
CROSSETT: The examination?
ERICKSEN: You said that they examined you.
CROSSETT: Well, they just...they just examined me. I was a member of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And the workers in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, at least one of them, was a very stickler for details and doctrine, and they didn't want to have...have problems come up and questions in the...in the minds of the faculty. There's just one that was that...that way and...and yet it put a stigma on the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. And so they...they wanted to make sure....
ERICKSEN: [unclear]...in Taiwan?
CROSSETT: Yeah. They wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to be a trouble-maker when I get over there. [clears throat] So that...and they...they were satisfied, and I was sort of satisfied too. I knew others that were teaching there, missionaries as well as Chi.... I got acquainted with the Taiwanese and Chinese after I got over there. But I knew the reputation of Dr. Whitehorn, who was the...the principal at that time, and [pauses] the other missionaries that were there. And I knew it was good. We had another OMFer [missionary with Overseas Missionary Fellowship] that was teaching over there, and through her we could...I could find out pretty well. So both sides were satisfied. And of course, when you get on the mission field I think it's in...true in most countries now, if you've got degrees you've got an advantage to start with. And I had two masters and one bachelors. And that put me [laughs] right up, especially for teaching over there. That gave me prestige, no matter whether I was good or bad. It gave me an advantage, so that that was good. That...that's true. If you've got degrees you've got it in right away on the foreign field, generally speaking.
ERICKSEN: How would you characterize the need for trained leaders in the tribal churches when you arrived?
CROSSETT: The need was tremendous. Mrs...no, Jiwang [?] was a tribal Christian. She became a Christian and then she became on fire for the Lord, so much that the Japanese hated her and they tried to get her, and get...do away with her. But she went from tribe to tribe. Somehow they could...they couldn't communicate. I mean, they're totally different languages, but there were people who could...may have known the two, and she could work and...and she went around. And...and when the Japanese...see the Japanese forbade preaching the gospel to the tribes at all. That was absolutely against the...against their rule. They had to become Shinto [worship of the spirits and gods of Japan]. They put up little shrines around. But Jiwang [?] was so...so committed to the Lord that she just risked her life. And they...they just tried to get her [laughs]. But she was a small person and sometimes they'd carry her on...on her back between...between places of where she would preach. And...and when the war was over and it was op...it was possible for people to go into the mountain, (it was all completely cut off when the Japanese were there)...and [clears throat] when they could go into the mountains they found that there were, I think it was five thousand Christians or more. Anyway, many of the villages had churches already just because...just because Jiwang [?] was so faithful and went around. She'd have big meetings, but she'd have them in the middle of the night down on the shore sometimes in big...on the mouth of a big river there. They...they'd...in the middle of the night they'd be down there and have their...their songs. The noise of the water sort of...sort of drowned it out. And they...they...they...sometimes they were detected, but they'd disappear. They'd meet in caves and different parts of the...of the island, different groups, and, oh, it was...it's thrilling what was happening during the last years of the war. And...and...so that there were many churches, but there was no one trained to...to lead them. And the churches were very poor. They couldn't invite somebody. They could, but then that person would have to make his own living, some way, usually in farming. And so the need was tremendous. The need was tremendous. And many of these that went through...through the school, like it is over here, all...everybody that goes through Moody [Bible Institute] and goes through [laughs] a seminary, they don't all go into the ministry. And over there I think there was a...quite a large percentage. In the beginning quite a few of them went right in and took pastorate of a church. But they had to earn their own living and so there was not time to do the teaching and the training that...that the church needed. And so the church was there. The first ones...the first generation was very enthusiastic, and.... But they didn't have any teaching. They didn't have any way to grow in the Lord. And when you come to the second generation of Christians, well, that was a different picture. They needed the leadership. But they also needed support, so that the...the leaders needed support so that they could do the proper teaching. That's one reason why we left the...the school after seven-and-a-half years after our last furlough. We left the school and I was...was preparing Bible lessons, putting them on tape. We prepared them...well, I took...prepared them in English first and then we transla...had them translated into Mandarin. And then we would have them (some graduates from the Yu-shan Theological Institute)...they would translate them into their own language. And then we...we put those on tape, first in Mandarin, and then we had them in Taiwanese too. And then we'd...we'd have graduates from the school record them in...in their own language. They had been translated. We'd record them in their own language. We had I think it was five...five of the different tribal languages. We had the tapes in five of the tribal languages, plus Taiwanese and Mandarin. That's seven, seven or eight [pauses] ta.... They...we'd...we'd come up. They would be half hour, half hour tapes but often it would be less than half an hour, anywhere from fifteen minutes on. And then we'd...we'd fill in the hour with discussion. And they would...we could have a Bible school and run the twenty...twenty lessons. You see, one course would be twenty lessons. And run them all, all together night after night, or they could just take them once a week, or adapt them as they wanted to. And...and these local...the graduates from the school could take that. They...they could run these Bible schools by themselves. And...and so that's what we're doing, and we...we couldn't get any farther. We had to come home and retire after we got that much done. We had the material...they're...they're still using them out there to a certain extent. But we never did get all ten of the...of the [pauses] languages. We didn't get the lessons in language. We had already prepared three...two or three more courses. We started with what it is to be a Christian, you know, in the beginning. The first...first twenty lessons were on the basics to Christianity. And then we started through the New Testament, systemically right through. And then the plans were...we had the plans made for coming through the Old Testament the same way. So it...it was going to be quite an extended effort. It was...but it never got [laughs]...and when we left, there was no one to carry on. So...but we felt that the teaching was so important. Just the preaching and getting people to know the Lord was fine, but to ground them in the...in the Word was necessary. That's why we left the seminary and...I mean, it's a seminary now, but [laughs] Bible...I think they call it Theological College now. But it was...that's why we left it so we could have something that would follow on and they...people could grow.
ERICKSEN: What...what were the leaders, who were completing the program, what were they contributing to the...the teaching in the church?
CROSSETT: You mean those that...?
ERICKSEN: That graduated.
CROSSETT: [pauses] Apart from this tape ministry?
CROSSETT: They were...well, many of them were called back to...to...to...to be pastors of the church. But as I mentioned before, they were...they didn't have time to do the teaching. So that if they had...there was an effort. Mrs. Dixon had an effort whereby she was raising money to support some of these. And that was very good. However, that kind of thing has its drawbacks in that the church doesn't feel the responsibility. They're getting the help from outside and the...and it's sort of something that is outside of the church. I mean, as far as the support is concerned, they're just the recipients. They're not the actual participation in the...in the funding...funding and seeing it carry on. Once that support is gone then they're right back to where they're.... It takes...it takes training, you know. And this...the whole...all...both sides of that. Self-support as far as the churches are concerned and also the...getting the help so that they can get the teaching to...from...to start with.
ERICKSEN: Over the time that you were there, did...were the churches able to provide more of the support for their pastors so that the pastors could do more of the teaching, more...?
CROSSETT: They didn't make much progress in that, no. No, they were...one reason is because they were taken advantage of by the lowlanders, by the Taiwanese and the...the mai...the mainland Chinese that came over. They...every time...every time they could, these would come in. Of course, the...the tribal people are just like...just like children as far as economics are concerned. As far as...as far as doing business is concerned. And...and "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," [common proverb] you know. Somebody would come in and offer them money. Well, they...they'd sell their daughters to these mainland...mainland soldiers, and here was...her was some cash in hand. And they'd...they'd sell their...now they could sell their land. Before they couldn't. The government sort of kept it so that it couldn't get out of the hands of the tribal people. But now it's getting out more and they're just being.... That's one reason when the...when the Chinese came in three hundred and fifty, four hundred years ago , time of Koxinga [also called Cheng Cheng-kung, a Chinese pirate and loyalist of the Ming dynasty who fled from the newly formed Ching dynasty], the Chinese drove out the...the Dutch [pauses] and they (is it the Dutch?)...and...and then they came in and they drove the tribal people back from the plains where the farming...well, the good farming and so forth, and the tribal people were driven into the mountains. That's why they're called mountain people. But before they had...they had the whole country. And it was...they...they were better off. But then...then when Koxinga came in with...he was a general in the Chinese army, and he just took over. It became under Chinese control. And...and the poor tribal peo...Chinese are excellent business people, and they don't care. Ethics is...is not uppermost in their thinking. And they tried to wipe out Christianity because the Dutch brought in a lot of...a lot of missionaries and a lot of...a lot of people became Christians. And they just slaughtered the Christians, the Chinese did when they came in. And...and very...it was very great persecution. But then the tribal people were driven up into the hills and so that [claps]...and they're still taking advantage of them, but [laughs] they have no...no more hills to go into. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: What value...what value did the...the tribal church put on the...the [Bible] institute then?
CROSSETT: The tribal church appreciated what was being done for them. Of course, it was a Presbyterian in...or institution and it was financed other than...not by the tribal people themselves.
CROSSETT: And...and they...they appreciated it very much. Some effort was being done to give them education. Of course, when we were there they all had to go. It was a rule, just like over here. We have to go to school to a certain age. And they had to go to school through the...I think originally it was the fourth grade and then it went up to the fifth or sixth, something like. But there were so many excuses why they didn't...why they couldn't go. And so many of them didn't get much of an education at all. Of course, it was Chinese. I didn't know what the education was before 1895. You see, it was Chinese up till then and then the Japanese took over. They...they had won in battle over the...over the Chinese, and Taiwan was given to the Japanese in reparation or something. And [clears throat]...and then the Japanese, of course, just forced their...their culture and their...their religion, and their language on the people. They didn't care whether the...whether the tribes got an education or not. They he just wanted to be able to speak Japanese and...and communi...communicate. So the schools were rather pathetic during...from 1895 to 1945 when Taiwan was given back to China at the end of the Second World War. And now...then all the...the only language taught in the school was Japanese. Now Mandarin is a required language. It's the official language and it's required in all the schools, so in that exchange you had some [laughs] confusion: Japanese and...and Mandarin and tribal languages and so forth. It was quite, quite confusing. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Can you describe what the educational program consisted of?
CROSSETT: Not too much in detail. Of course, it was reading and writing and they'd take up, of course, the history of...history of China. And...and of course, mathematics. And a bit of science. Of course, in the first grades, you'd get higher in highschool. Of course, you had to take...take an examination. You'd get into highschool by examination. You just didn't go. [laughs] And...and they...and...but in the lower grades it was mainly learning to read and write and a little mathematics.
ERICKSEN: What sort of religious training was included?
CROSSETT: Religious training in public schools, the country was Buddhist...
ERICKSEN: Oh, I see.
CROSSETT: ...and that came outside of the schools, I think. I don't think they...I don't know. I don't know that much about it.
ERICKSEN: And what about the educational program at the Institute?
CROSSETT: Well, it was a Bible school. We...they had to learn...well, they had Mandarin classes, because tribal people had their own language and Mandarin was...was their weak point, so they...they took Mandarin. They...they were taking...also when we were there they were studying Japanese and...and English a bit. And while we were there Mr. Estelle, he's the vice principal now, he...he started teaching Greek. It was sort of...see, it was all quite a low level. Out of...out of the grade school they could go right in there. Then while we were there they...they raised it so they had to be out of high school. And since then they're raising it so they should be...at least have some college training before they can get in. It's...it's...they're trying to raise it all the time and they are. But the Bible...Bible courses, of course, Old and New Testament and surveys, and certain amount of exegesis and [coughs] Bible history, and [pauses]...oh, just what a Bible school would normal...normally teach, and missions, evangelism. They had...of course, they were quite strong on evangelism. So quite a good course, I think. They did teach a little bit of (oh, what do you call it?) housekeeping, sewing, and various other [laughs]...I can't even think of the word that they call it in school here. Home economics. And...and things like that for the...for the...for the women. We were there when only men students were accepted. And then it wasn't long while we were there that they opened it to women.
ERICKSEN: What led to the change?
CROSSETT: I think the...the demand for it, and they the wanted wives...they wanted...they wanted trained wives for these ministers, wives that would know the Bible and be able to make their contribution when the...when he was a pastor of the church. She could help out in the Sunday school and children's work and women's work and so forth. Now more than half of the students are women. Men, of course, [clears throat]...with the coming in of these [pauses] processing zones, the factories coming in with this export processing zones, where [clears throat] the raw material can come in without duty, and they're...the...they're making these big, big factories. They're making things and those things cannot be sold locally. You can buy them, but you have to take delivery in a for...in another country. And so it comes in without duty and then it goes out, so that it's...and they are taking tens and tens of thousands of workers. Oh, that...that's one of the main emphases now of the OMF, is factory workers, industrial workers. We...we want...we're emphasizing that more than almost any...almost anything else now, getting...in fact, reaching these thousands and thousands of young people. And many of them are tribal, that go into these factories. And once they leave the mountains they're open to all the temptations of the city and so forth. It's a crying need now for...for industrial workers. And so that changes the complexion of the whole...whole society. And many of the men are going into the...the women and men too going into these factories. And that has cut down on the attractiveness of...of becoming a preacher and [laughs] having to be supported by outside.... The church doesn't.... Supporting yourself by...by farming and so forth. So that...that...that has changed with the incoming...I mean, establishing of these what they call export processing zones.
ERICKSEN: What kind of a status does a pastor have among a local congregation?
CROSSETT: In the...in the mountains? Among the tribes?
CROSSETT: Well, he's...he's got a status of leadership. He's...he's recognized as a leader, as a teacher. It's sort of an attractive...from that...from that point of view, sort of attractive. And he's a counselor. He's had the training and they recognize that.
ERICKSEN: How about the...the general community, not just the Christians but just the local people? How...what sort of position does a pastor hold in their eyes?
CROSSETT: [pauses] These...I think they look up to him as a leader. They don't follow his teaching, of course. [laughs] They go in their own way and they're very...mostly animists. And of course, the Buddhi...Buddhism is coming in stronger because of the Chinese influence.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Could you describe some of the weaknesse...not weaknesses, the strengths of the...the tribal church?
CROSSETT: [pauses] They're quite evangelistic minded. They...they do a lot of evangelism. And I think that's good. It's something they can teach us over here sometimes [laughs]. But they do. They're...they...they...the leaders take groups and they...they do a lot of...well, I don't know how much they...visitation they do, but they do...they do have special...special meetings and special evangelistic efforts. I would think that's...and they do believe the Bible [laughs].
ERICKSEN: How open then are the...the non-Christian tribal people to listening to the gospel?
CROSSETT: [pauses] When missionaries go in they're very...they're very willing to listen. That's something special, you know. The local people, they take it or leave it just as they please. They...the non-Christians...well, they'll come to special evangelistic meetings. Not everybody because.... They are like the American Indians in that they are very prone to drinking, alcoholism and so forth. That's very strong there. And so that immediately...they feel that they're cut off because they're...they're...they're not meeting a standard. And...and so that they don't want to have that...restrictions on them. Of course, we emphasize that they should be controlled by the Holy Spirit and not...not by alcohol. [coughs] "Be not filled with wine, but be (What does it say?)...but be conformed to the Spirit, be filled with the Spirit." [Ephesians 5:18] And that's...a lot of them, of course, just don't want to be controlled by any...they want to be able to go their own way, just like we are [laughs].
ERICKSEN: [pauses] Were there any theological debates going on in Tai...Taiwan while you were there, either amongst the missionaries or in the...the tribal churches?
CROSSETT: Well, for course, there's always this...this liberal and Evangelical, the.... That problem comes up because the Presbyterian church generally.... You see, the...the whole country was Presbyterian at one time. It was given when they made this division back about the turn of the century. Taiwan was allo...allocated to the Presbyterian Church. And so you're either Presbyterian, I mean, you're...or you're [coughs]...or you're not, and you're not considered a Christian if you're [laughs]...if you're not and so forth. But that division...of course, with the coming of the mainlanders [mainland Chinese] over here at the end of the war, many of the...some of the preachers came over and they established what is called...what is known as the Mandarin churches, the Mandarin speaking churches. And they're quite Evangelical, very strong. And that's the strong side. The...the Taiwanese Presbyterian church was influenced by the...by the [pauses]...by the [World] Council of Churches, you know, and by the..it was very...liberalism came in and took over pretty much. And one of the leaders of the...of the General Assembly [of the Presbyterian Church] was almost ostracized...ostracized from the country because he was liberal and he was advocating that the...the country become Taiwanese. I mean under Taiwanese government. In other words, what is...I can't say that either. I was going to say what is now known as the Republic of China. But that's...the Republic of China is controlled almost entirely by mainlanders coming over. And they claim all of China. But the Taiwanese want to star...many of the Taiwanese want to start a country of their own. Taiwan as a country of their own, which would just take over the Republic of China, which is...is Taiwan. And the Council of Chu...(What do you...what do you call it?) The [clears throat]...
ERICKSEN: World Council [of Churches].
CROSSETT: ...World Council. They were a member of the World Council, the...the Taiwanese Church was. And of course, they had all that influence. And one of the leaders of the church, the...the moderator of the General Assembly, which is really the one who has all the power, he advocated that they become independent. And he was...he also advocated that they have some dealings with...with Red China. And that was just waving a red flag. And he was...he had to flee the country. He had a...he had a British wife, and he had to flee the country and...and couldn't go back, because they were after him, the government was after him. And there is that. But while we were there, just before we left, the General Assembly voted to withdraw from the World Council. And how that has come since then I'm not sure. I don't think they gone back in. But there are many of the church and most of the...many of the Taiwanese, the leaders were...were quite liberal. The pastors originally got a good training and so many...when we left, most of the pastors of the Taiwanese churches were Evangelical. They were preaching fine. But the denomination is the one that dictates to the...as to the decisions of the General Assembly. So that the...the issues...issues were there, discussed, of course [ laughs]. One, if you can call it minor (I don't know)...but one...I think it's a major issue, but it's the question of drinking. Now the church is preaching total abstinence. The missionaries were teaching total abstinence, and...and both on smoking and drinking. But one of the missionaries (he was a Presbyterian from Canada, I think), he made the statement in one of the conferences, in the tribal conferences, (now this is not the Taiwanese church but the tribal conferences)...he made the statement that "nowhere in Scripture does it say that you shall not drink." Well, that opened the door and these...these...some of the church leaders in the tribes that sort of liked to drink, that had been abstaining, they went right back. And they're just drunkards and everything. Boy, that was a terrific blow. They couldn't see...he couldn't see the influence that a statement like that would have on them, because they just went overboard. He had logic for his...for his statement, but he didn't see what this statement would do to the...to the tribal church leaders, because they...just like American Indians, they're [laughs] very weak at that point. They can't take their firewater [laughs]. So there are a lot of...a lot of problems that came in as far as ethics and...and doctrine and so forth.
ERICKSEN: Going back to the...the Bible Institute. Was there any sort of practical experience that was required of the students?
CROSSETT: Every vacation they went out in groups. Most of the students were...were a member of one of those groups, went...went out visiting churches and holding meetings. And they were encouraged...of course, when you have a school just like Moody, you can't get all those students working in immediate...in the immediate vicinity. And so where it takes a day or two to get to your destination [laughs] and get back again, you can't do that during classes in session. But on vacation they can. But they're very active. And the church is near, not only in the tribal churches but in other churches too they were active in...in going out. Yes, they had quite a...quite a active work program for the students.
ERICKSEN: [pauses] I guess I...I don't have any more questions about your work in Taiwan. Is there anything you would like to add? I have some other questions subsequent to your....
CROSSETT: I don't know if there's anything I'd like to add. We need a lot of prayer. [laughs] And there are now at present time these mountain peak experiences for the whole church. Some of the tribes, they...they go up on the mountains and they have all night and several day prayer meetings, which is...it is the influence of the Koreans. See, the Koreans have had that. Now that is good and not so good. Some places it's really sincere and it's fine. In the not-so-good places some of the cults have come in and are taking advantage of that.
ERICKSEN: Now what does it the...what does it consist of?
CROSSETT: Well, they go up on the mountain and they...they have a little Bible study, and then they...they pray. They'll pray all night. They'll pray...sometimes they'll be up there two or three days. And it's...and it's been a terrific spiritual experience for those that have taken part and many of the missionaries are thrilled with what's happening, quite sound. But in some cases with one of the tribes it's gone into extremes.
ERICKSEN: What sort of things have happened?
CROSSETT: Well, more...more of the Pentecostal...the extremes in...in tongues and...and like that, possession. It's...it's...it certainly opens the way for that. But the influence came from...from Korea. And Koreans are known as prayers. But they had the mountain...mountain (What do they call them?)...these "prayer mountains." Prayer mountains. They're...and one of the tribes is really being revived in a tremendous way out there. And it's one of the bigger tribes. You see, there are ten different tribes. Now some of them have been integrated so that it's come down to ten now. [clears throat] The tribal people are definitely not Chinese. They're Melanesian or come in from outside originally. If you've read the book Hawaii [novel by James Michener], it tells how the Hawaiians got into the Hawaiian islands, so this is...it's something like that there as far as...as far as we know. There are different...different theories, but that's the one most common. They came in from the south. [clears throat]
ERICKSEN: When...your wife talked about why you had to return because of her...her health?
CROSSETT: When we retired.
CROSSETT: You see, we came home on furlough and the mission told...told us we could go back, not for a full four year term but for two, three or four. It depended on our health. It depended on our...how we are...we were received out there, whether we were still...still wanted. And [clears throat] in two years, we would be of retiring age. But we could stay out longer if we were wanted and if we felt we could. Well, at the end of two years she had her heart attack and the heart...and the mission suggested we might come home and we had already agreed that if anything happened to us so we'd...we'd have to have care, we would come home rather than take another mission [sic] out of his...another missionary of his work and to...just to take care of us. And so when the mission suggested we jumped at the idea because she had...did have a heart attack and we couldn't carry on normally.
ERICKSEN: What...what differences had you noticed had taken place in American churches since you had....?
CROSSETT: Since when? Since we went out or since we [laughs]...? That covers a period of forty years. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: Well, that covers a lot. Well, would you con...would you say that the situations you were in at Hawaii were typical American church situations? Would that be a...?
CROSSETT: Largely I think so.
ERICKSEN: How would you compare those two, what you found when you came home, what you left?
CROSSETT: Of course, we didn't spend much time in Hawaii on our way home.
CROSSETT: We...we...on our way home we didn't stop there at all.
CROSSETT: But when we came on furlough, the first two and three furloughs, a couple furloughs, we...two...we stopped over there for...for a time on our way home. And of course, we were entertained, and...and we knew the enthusiasm of the church we'd founded and of some of the other Evangelical churches. When we first went to Hawaii, the Evangelical churches were very few. But during our time there the other Evangelici...Evangelicals had come in. The...the... [pauses] the...missionaries came out of China and couldn't go back after the war. Some of them decided to settle there, and they...they.... You see, Hawaii was originally all Congregational. Other denominations had agreed not to come in, but then.... Of course, the Baptists weren't in that agreement, and so they didn't feel any breach of...of agreement. They just came in and many of the...of them were China missionaries that came and settled there. It was an opportunity. And...and other denominations then started coming in. So it was...it was not Congregational only, but out of the twelve Congregational churches in Honolulu, the...the six biggest ones, just before...well, one was already...was already Evangelical, but five others changed and became Evangelical from the time we went there. We had nothing to do with that because we were outside of that. But they became Evangelical. It was...the need for the Evangelical testimony was felt by some of the church leaders, and so they were sort of welco...welcoming it in. But that...from the time we left until the time we came back [sneezes]...I mean, left Honolulu, until the time we came back, I don't...I don't know...I don't know as I could judge just how it was. I didn't see...we weren't there long enough. But we do know that the Evangelical churches multiplied. For instance the one we started, they had started five branch churches, and they were solid Evangelical, all on the island of Oahu. And...and the Baptists were...of course, once they got a few churches they withdrew from cooperating with the other churches. They were sufficient unto themselves, and...and their...their work was all that they felt they could do. And they became...of course, they were...as far as I know they were Evangelical, Southern Baptists, [pauses] and sort of exclusive in some ways. And the other...other Evangelical churches were...were started. It was...that was encouraging. Over here I...I don't know. Over here on mainland, you look over generally and it seems as though it's sort of retreating in many ways. And yet some are going forward too. It's [laughs]...as far as the difference between when we went and when we came back, I do...I don't know.
ERICKSEN: What about the Alto Pass church? [Crossett coughs] What did you...what differen...differences did you see there?
CROSSETT: Well, when I was there originally way back in 1928, there was real enthusiasm. There was really real growing, and it carried on for some time. Later it divided, it was split and that, of course, brought tension to the whole town. And...and another church was started which is still carrying on down there. And...and the situation is [laughs]...I wouldn't say it's encouraging and I wouldn't say it's too discouraging either. The Evangelicals are really fine, going ahead. The church that we started, it has some people in it that are very strong Congregational and they want to stick with the...well, some of them want to...want to stick with the Evangelical part and others want to sort of...well, it doesn't matter too much for them. But it's largely just Evangelical. [train passes in background] I don't....[laughs]
ERICKSEN: How did you decide to return to that church?
CROSSETT: They invited me. They invited me to go down. Their pastor...they didn't have a pastor and they asked me to go down. We had a very good reputation in that church and then through the whole town from the beginning. See, I was down there three times when I was in school during the summer. And I was welcome as one of the young people and got the young people together, and we got a good reputation. Then we visited them during furlough time, and oh, it just kept boost...boosting me up. So when I was available they [clears throat] invited us to come back. They thought we could do...make a contribution again there. But the situation had changed a bit. A lot of the old ones were gone and the young people had grown up. Their...their expectation in us was fine. But I feel that I sort of let them down. I didn't do...measure up to that expectation. I didn't have the vim that I had when I was younger, and [there was] plenty to be done. And oh, they were...they welcomed us with open arms. Later some of them turned against us, but...but it wasn't...it wasn't their fault. [laughs] We ju...we just didn't measure up. The church is still carrying on. [clears throat]
ERICKSEN: Now how did...I see you were involved with the Alto Pass Christian Fellowship.
CROSSETT: Well, when I...I think I mentioned before that that church didn't hire a pastor and keep him until some decided it was time to go on or he did, but they voted every year on...on the pastor. And from the...from the time I went there, the very first meeting with the board, I was asked some questions, which revea...by one man, revealed that he was very dead against me being there.
ERICKSEN: What question?
CROSSETT: Simply he...in the board meeting the first question he asked (and I don't think the other people [blows nose] knew...knew what he was getting at)...but he said, "What do you think of Angela?" [pauses] You know what that would mean?
CROSSETT: Anyway, the...I've forgotten whether her...is her name Angela Davis I'm not sure. Anyway...
ERICKSEN: Oh yeah.
CROSSETT: ...she had influenced the U...the UP [United Presbyterian, northern branch] Church...the USA Church to...to make contributions. They made big contributions to the...to the rebels down in...in African countries and all over. And was asking about that. In other words he identified me with the northern Presbyterian Church. And I said...I sort of wondered what he was asking in the first...first place. Then I...then I explained that I had nothing to do with that church at all. It's a different denomination altogether. But all the time I was there, he never got that straight. And he was always.... There was a pulpit open in Cobden five mi...five miles away. It was the...it was an United Presbyterian Church, USA, the old...before they came together again, the southern and northern. And they wanted to pastor. He said, "There's a church for you. Go over there. It's your own [laughs]...it's your own faith, your own denomination. And he was the dictator of that church and he fought me from the day...the day I landed. And he went around...well, I'm not a politician and I [laughs] didn't do any politicking. But he went around and he talked to the church. And...and he brought in...they...they were voting. It was time to vote on the pastor. [coughs] Every year they have to do that. And he brought in people that had never been in the church for years. They came in. They voted between Sunday school and church. They came in for the voting, they went. They didn't come to Sunday school or church. And it was...it just tipped the balance of...there were about one or two votes that...more than he had. And...and so....
ERICKSEN: You were out then?
CROSSETT: I was out. And I...I went to the board. I said, "Normally...normally when you dismiss a pastor or when he resigns, that's a two or three-month notice." What they wanted [claps hands] was to just dig it like that. "We vote and that's out." I said, "What do you...what is your wish? Should I plan to leave in a month or in two months, or three months?" Well, they voted on two months. So I was there two months after they...they voted. But that is often the case. I mean, it's a...it's a...it's a notice that.... And so some of the one or two of them that were with this man, oh, you could see the anger in their [laughs]...in their expression when the board voted, well, two months. And...and...but at that the whole...the whole community, people from all the other churches (and there are four churches in that town of three hundred people, Baptist and the Pentecostal, and the [clears throat]...the...the Grace Memorial Church, which is the split-off from the Congregational church, and then the Congregational Church, all four; not a Catholic church there [sneezes])...but they...they got together and they invited me to...they...they did their best to get a position for me. They have this...the Cross of Peace up on Bald Knob. I don't know if you know about it, but they come from all over the country for the...for the Chr...Easter sunrise service, just four miles out in the country. And it's sort of a campgrounds, you might say. And they invited me to take that over. But it's up there four miles out, and it's snow bound in the winter, and there're snakes up there, and Margaret wasn't too strong. If she'd have an attack, oh, they couldn't get in to relieve us. I said no. But they wanted us to stay and we had club work, Christian Service Brigade and the Pioneer Girls in the church, and they have to have a supporting organization. So we...they all got together, people from [laughs] all the churches. We formed this Alto Pass Christian Fellowship, mainly for carrying on the clubs and for Bible class. And we had a Bible class there every week, and drawn from all of these...all of these churches. And it was just a nondenominational Christian movement there. And we were able to get the big building from the school that had.... The school had closed down and one of the buildings...actually, it was the cafeteria building but was used for [watch alarm sounds] different things. And we were able to get the use of that, free of charge except if we'd make minor repairs on it. And we got that and put up a big sign in front of it and we had...oh, we used that...it was...it was quite a institution there in Alto Pass as long as we were there. And we stayed for months. Well, let me see. We stayed for over a year afterwards. And then we felt that the Lord wanted us to leave. It was getting a little heavy because I had already agreed to do [pauses] church planting for the RPCES [Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod], and I did that along with this club work and other things. And...and the whole thing got too...too...a little bit too much for us. And then...so I resigned and we...we moved up to Wyanet [in Illinois].
ERICKSEN: Now moving on to that. How...how were you...how did it come about that you were appointed the presbytery [regional governing body in Presbyterian church structure] evangelist?
CROSSETT: That...you mean down there with the RPCES?
CROSSETT: Well [clears throat], they knew the situation at Alto Pass, that is the...the Illiana Presbytery. See, the Pres....that...that denomination was a [pauses]...denom...there was a presbytery (I've forgotten what its name was). But they divided and made three presbyteries out of the one. And the Illiana Presbytery, the one for southern Indiana and...and southern Illinois. [train passes in background] That was...they were just starting. They hadn't completely organized, and...and one of the men who became the head of the...the home missions, he...he knew us pretty well. We...we knew him very well from his...his church was in Carbondale [Illinois]. And he said...he...he...he talked with the other members of the committee, and then he asked me, would I be willing...would I be willing to help them on a part-time basis start churches. And we prayed it over and I said yes. So for me to work with them, they had to put me through the examination, just to be ordained, you know. And I was still a member up here, but I...of this presbytery. But I was given permission. I can...I wrote to the Midwest Presbytery here....
ERICKSEN: Of the OPC [Orthodox Presbyterian Church].
CROSSETT: Of the OPC. And they gave me permission to work outside of bounds [Presbyterian terminology for ministry outside of local church context] and so we started starting churches down there. [coughs] West Frankfurt, Mount Vernon, Terra Haute, Indiana. Later it became an OPC church, which has folded up now [clears throat]. But it was...I...we traveled...and that was quite strenuous because we had to travel. We'd...we'd be...we'd go out for a couple of days, Friday and Saturday and do visitation, and then I'd take the service. We'd lead the prayer meet...we'd lead the Bible class. And then when they decided to have worship service, we'd lead the services. And...and then when they got on their feet, they'd call an organizing pastor, and then I would start someplace else. But we did work in Mount Vernon and West Frankfurt. And in...Terra Haute, Indiana, we got going there. And we studied, actually. We...no. Then that was too heavy so I resigned and we moved up here, and then it wasn't long until...till [clears throat] Don Stanton got the idea I might start up...work up here, so then I was....
ERICKSEN: For the OPC.
CROSSETT: The OPC. So then we started working up here. Started the church in Decatur. We...we felt things out and had a Bible class for some...some months in Springfield. Started in (not Paxton, but what's that place where that air base is down there?) Rantoul. We...we started work down there. That finally closed up. They called somebody else who's...wasn't for the job. And it finally closed up. Victor Attalah was down there working for...for a while too.
ERICKSEN: How does church planting in this country compare with the church planting experience you had overseas?
CROSSETT: Well, here, you've got the knowledge of what Christianity is. At least people know something about it. And they...they've got...sometimes they've got their own idea. But nevertheless you don't have to start from scratch. Of course, out there you're st...you're preaching the gospel, and...and as soon as.... We...we started evangelistic meetings right in our...as soon as we got into the place. And as soon as we had a few believers, then we started Bible study class. But we just...in...in Hoqiu, for instance, we just started the evangelistic meetings. And being foreign we were an attraction. Boy, they came to see the foreigner, and we had a packed house, morning, afternoon and evening. And we carried on those meetings for six months that way there in...in Hoqiu. But during that six months, there were two and three...there were several that became interested, were believers, and...and we started a Bible class. So one night a week we'd have a Bible class and...and non-Christians would come in too, but those were interested. And gradually we built up and we'd train them, and gradually after si...eighteen months we had a baptism of I think it was twenty-four. Eight...18th of December we had twenty-four baptized. And then a month later I got them together, and we organized into an embryo church. I just told them "You can't be leaders, because the Bible says novices are not to be church leaders, and you've got to be trained. So we can appoint a treasurer, an assistant treasurer and a secretary. If you want me to keep the money, I'll keep it as a bank, but you say...you keep track of how much comes in and you say when we spend it." Of course, I'm advising them all the time. [clears throat] And we did that in January after our 18th of December baptisms. We baptized the twenty-four, and then we started the church. I started teaching them and so the following year we had regular deacons and...and leaders. They kept growing and they were very evangelistic. But...but here you've got to...you're facing various forms so-called of...of Christianity, of so-called Christianity. I mean you've got SDAs [Seventh Day Adventists], you've got Mormons, you've got...when you're doing visiting. But basically do the same. We get into...go visiting, talk to the people in their homes, give them literature, invite them to come, and do a lot of calling, a lot of...a lot of visitation and canvassing. Like in [clears throat]...in [pauses] Terra Haute, we'd just choose a section of the country...section of the town, and we'd just go...get into every home. I mean, visit every home. Whether we got in or not is [laughs] a different thing. We did the same thing down in...in Decatur. And that...that took fire right away. And, of course, they had a basic...some basic Christians started there [coughs]. But...but...and here you've got people who know somewhat of what Christianity is. Out in China you've got to start from scratch...and from scratch. You don't start from preaching Christ. You start preaching the creation and tell what God is, who God is. Buddhists are atheists. They have...they have images of...of his...of...of the...the faithful believers. They have images of...they are the idols in the temples, but they are...they are atheists. I...one or two of those books, I think, that I...that I gave you...
CROSSETT: ...explains a little bit about that. But they claim to be atheists. And yet...and yet in this country they have Sunday schools. I mean, just like our Sunday schools. And they have...they imitate and they meet together. Buddhism really is an individual religion. Your family...they worship individually. But it's...it's...it is different. And yet you've got the one message to...message to preach. You just have to lead the people...and the Chinese, you have to lead them to an understanding of the basics, of...not of Christianity, but well, yes, of the creation and who God is and that He's a person, and...and that there is a God. And you have to be very, very fundamental to start with.
ERICKSEN: Can you tell me a little about the religious belief survey you did in Wyanet?
CROSSETT: Oh. [pauses] Yes, we wanted to find out where the...who the people were and it was done with the sanction, the okay of the other churches. But we did the...we did the work really.
ERICKSEN: On behalf of the OPC or...?
CROSSETT: No, it was on behalf of the Congregational church where we are there. See, that's...that's a family church. There is no OPC there and there's no Presbyterian...well, is in [coughs]...Presbyterian church in Princeton. But the OPC, the nearest one to us is Wheaton.
ERICKSEN: I see.
CROSSETT: Almost a hundred miles away. And...but we...we just went in home to home. We had certain questions that we'd ask, find out what their church affiliation is, and with three church...Protestant churches there a Catholic church, they're...most of them have some [clears throat]...have knowledge of a church and sort of, although they don't go, they still sometimes claim that one of them is theirs. But we went around to find out what their relation and what their...what their status was, and what they...what church connection they had, what...what their choice was, and if they had any choice and found out the number of children, tried to get the number of children and names, and the relationship of the parents, whether they were divorced or whether they...what the relationship is and so forth. And find out...and we did find out [clears throat] sometimes their economic situation if they're really hard up. Normally we didn't ask too much about that. But we wanted to find out those who were prospects for the...for our church. We wanted to reach the unreached. And we did. We got a...I got a big...well, I went to the courthouse and I got a detailed map of the...of the city. We had to get it in sections and put it together. And then we systematically went around from door to door. [clears throat]
ERICKSEN: How many of you were there?
CROSSETT: Well, most of that was done by the two of us really, most of it. Of course, there were only a thousand people in the town. And the others...well, we tried to train some in it, and some others helped too. But they didn't' take any section systematically. We did most of that. And then the pastor...I gave the material to him and he put it on the shelf and that was the end of it. So it was...doing a survey, you've...you've got to follow up or else it's no good. It's worse than no good. I mean, it's...here's a little expectation. The people...somebody's interested in it and then nothing's done. So it was...that fell flat. I've still got that town map, and [laughs]...and...and I'm going to give it to this pastor. He seems to be a go-getter.
ERICKSEN: When did you become the regional representative for the mission [OMF]?
CROSSETT: Well, that was shortly after we retired. See, [clears throat] came home in June, and you're supposed to be considered on furlough for...for a certain period of time. Well, in June we got home and the first of Jul...first of January in 1974, we were officially retired. And it long after that that the mission wrote and asked me to be...be willing to be representative of the mission: to...to...conduct prayer meetings, OMF prayer meetings, and interest people, arrange [clears throat] for...offer at least for...to help in conferences, church missionary conferences. And there are certain...the Evangelical churches often are very, very enthusiastic about missionary conferences. And the...and the Wyanet church has been mission-minded for some time. They've had annual conferences there a long time. And the Princeton Bible church is the same. [doors slams in background] And we...different churches, Princeton Bible Church, the Congregational Church in Wyanet, and the Grace Presbyterian church in Peoria [clears throat], are the ones where we've had most of our conferences. And then, of course, arrange for prayer meetings and lead the prayer meetings, [clears throat] or arrange for them to be led. And have...arrange for prayer conferences. The one around here that includes this area is held in Elburn [community west of Wheaton]. That's every year. We had one in Menno Haven, Camp Menno Haven [in Tiskilwa, Illinois], which is about seven miles out of Wyanet, south. And it is a Mennonite camp, but it is a very good...very very fine camp, that we had down there. But with the...somehow, either I didn't know how to do it, or [clears throat] with the busy schedule in Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, most of those that were...that attended came from Wyanet, Princeton or Peoria. [coughs] The schedules were so much that...so heavy that we didn't draw too many. Had a wonderful conferences but they financially were not profitable and with the fewer people it wasn't...finally we dropped that. But we had it for three years in succession. But it was just promoting the...the mission, and interviewing candidates, when peo...young people became interested, sort of giving them the literature and talking with them and so forth.
ERICKSEN: Now, where are the other...how much of an area did you cover and where are the other representatives around here?
CROSSETT: Well, they're lacking. There's one up in...up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Of course, up beyond there they have a...a prayer conference every year, which is [clears throat]... Sadie Custer [retired OMF missionary; BGC Archives Collection 470 contains an interview with her.] is there, and she has about seven prayer meetings every week. The first part of the week and then the last part she rests up. She's thinking of going into a retirement home too. And [clears throat] I don't know others. The area that I've had was, well, Illinois, and particularly northern Illinois. By northern I would say Springfield up and so forth. We did have a [pauses] missionary conference down in Alto Pass when we were there. That was an OMF conference. And...and we had the Quad Cities [Moline and Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport and Bettendorf, Iowa], over into Iowa, Iowa City and Des Moines and all around there and down, even down Springfield and Peoria, and around what's sort of the [clears throat]...all up around, even up into the edge of...the edge of Wisconsin was the area that I was supposed to...supposed to cover. We did some investigating, but no other...apart from Wyanet and Peoria, no other prayer meetings were...were established. Of course, the one in Peoria was going before we came here. Miriam Brown started one many, many years ago up in Zion. That was her home. And then when she went to Peoria, she started one down there. That's not the only one she started...not the only prayer meeting she started, because she's got others that are not OMF-related. She's a...she's a terrific, terrific woman, and [pauses] but.... Paul Pointer. Have you met him yet? He took over from Gerry Haynes, which was the regional director.
ERICKSEN: Oh yeah, I think I have.
CROSSETT: The Midwest regional director. He only has about ten or eleven states to cover, and that's why they want these...these local representatives to [clears throat] sort of be the next step down from the regional director and then sort of carry on the work in their own...own area. I don't know of any other [clears throat, pauses] local representatives in...around this area. I don't know of any others.
ERICKSEN: Okay. I'd like to finish up on a question. You've been talking about OMF. How has the mission changed since you first became a missionary?
CROSSETT: As far as policy is concerned I don't think it's changed. As far as the...the financial policy, as far as the...the requirement for missionaries and so forth, I think has changed. When I first joined I think a Bible school graduate was very...accepted very well, very fine. Since then the...the educational standard of the whole world and requirements of the whole world has risen. So that now they like to have a person who is...is better...has got a broader...broader training. And they appreciate...at that time a degree wasn't considered...sometimes was dis-invited. Rather...I mean, if you had higher degree. One woman was turned down. She was...she was a PhD. "You've got too much education." That has changed completely. And the better education you have, the better you're accepted. It's required now if in certain areas, you're working with students and so forth. If you don't have a degree you're at a great disadvantage. Of course, your personality goes through it, but...but a degree gives you a big jump right to start with. That's one reason why they wanted me up in Yu-shan, not because I was a teacher...I mean an expert teacher. I think I didn't do too bad, but [laughs] they...it was because...mainly because my degrees. And I was asked to teach in other schools too. But [clears throat]...and so from that standpoint it has changed. Now the policy of the mission, the financial policy is exactly the same. The...the...there is a...we have matured as far as the...the planning, financial planning. For instance, there were lean months, lean seasons and fat seasons [reference to famine in Egypt during the life of Moses in the book of Genesis], and everything was used up each time. The fat season, well, you had a lot. And the lean season, boy, you...it was.... I mean, now they've got it more balanced so that it's planned, planned much more in detail, and...so that you...you feel on an even keel right through the year. And then, of course, the...the leadership and the organization, much more.... When I joined it was a...it was you might say dictatorship. We had a council, with a general director was the one who had the final say, and he was the one who...who could override. Usually he didn't, but in one case...I mean, one man as general director felt very strongly that he was the...the dictator. And he was a very godly man. He was a fine man. But now everything goes through the...the council. We have a central council and we have an overseas council. The central council meets at least every two or three years and the other meets in between. And everything is really...well, before always it was prayed over very much. And the same policy affects.... If...if the decision is not unanimous, they stay off and pray until the decision of the whole council is...is unanimous. And I think that's one thing that keeps us out of a lot of problems [laughs]. We know that what is decided on has been unanimous by the...by the...by the leaders. And I think that they have...well, the mission [clears throat] may be a little bit bigger now, although we had nearly fourteen hundred at our peak. But that included associates. Now we don't have those associates included in our number about 950 members. And we've brought in or...or chosen out or found some outstandingly capable men or leaders. I think we've had them all along but...but it seems to be a little broader now as far as in...in the home countries as well as on the field. I think we matured in other words.
ERICKSEN: Have their been any changes in the mission that you've felt uncomfortable about?
CROSSETT: I don't think of any. I'm completely sold on the [laughs]...on the mission. I think...
ERICKSEN: I've gathered that.
CROSSETT: ...it's the best one in the world. I certainly do.
ERICKSEN: Just one other thing about...about your support and your supporters. How would you characterize the people who have prayed for you and paid for you?
CROSSETT: Faithful. They've certainly been faithful. They're committed. And they're really back of us. They have been more faithful than we have. Sometimes we haven't corresponded as we...as often as we would like to. And we use the excuse, "Of course, we're busy" and everything, but that is not acceptable, I think. But we've had faithful ones. For instance, this Wyanet...Wyanet church as a church: it's been supporting right from the time I went out. Then a church in Hono...Honolulu has been supporting from the time we went out. And several of the other individual supporters have been supporting since we...since they knew us, since they started. Very faithful.
ERICKSEN: Have you always had enough, support-wise?
CROSSETT: Well, when I went out I had a hundred percent support. When I [clears throat]...well, that was my first...first term. And the first term for me was five years, simply because Margaret had already been out five when I was there, and fifteen between us. But then in the second term, Park Street Church (Boston) took on my support. And then after that, when we...after the Honolulu experience, we were told to go right out without doing any deputation before we go. Of course, we never asked for funds, plea...plea for...plead for funds at all. But we went right out and the only support I had was twenty-five dollars from the Kapalua church. And yet I served...we...we...we s...we were taken care of just like every other person in the mission because of this pooling principle. And you have to...that has to be explained pretty well, because the mission apart form the individual support to individuals: what is designated is used. They're very, very strong on that. Not misappropriating in that way. But you know, before you...when you enter the mission you know about the pooling of the personal support. So that we fared just the same as anybody else.
ERICKSEN: So when what was lean for others...
CROSSETT: It was lean.
ERICKSEN: ...was lean for you.
CROSSETT: Yup, lean for others, lean for us. When it was...and when we went out, of course, what I was...I was told that [pauses] if the mission gives us not a penny we have no recourse, because God's sending us out and God takes care of us. [laughs] We can't [unclear] the mission. We can't sue the mission [laughs] because.... We were told that before we went out. But...but it...we've always had sufficient. We haven't had abundance. But boy, when you think of all the benefits you get too. Children's schooling. And...and they had their own school or else they arrange for other schools. And various other things which more than make any...up for any personal leanness. Well, I'm...I'm [laughs]...I think it's the best policy that a [laughs] mission can have. However, I don't say it's the only policy. I wouldn't criticize any other mission for having another policy. But we've never been held up from going back from furlough because we haven't raised our support. We've never...well, they've always had transportation for us to go out and back. And we have a prayer target. The mission tells us what we're praying for and we try to pray for that. But the only request we make is from the Lord and not from...not from people.
CROSSETT: It's over? [laughs]
ERICKSEN: I'm finished with my questions. Is there anything that you would like to add?
CROSSETT: [laughs] Some things I might want to subtract, but [laughs].... As far as I know I don't think I've gone beyond the truth in anything [laughs] that I've said. My memory is very bad, but [laughs] that may cause some discrepancies between the truth and...and what I said. But as far as I know it's okay. [laughs]
ERICKSEN: I guess it is. Well, [Crossett coughs] thank you very much for your time and sharing your life with us.
CROSSETT: Well, it's a privilege to get to know you better too.
END OF TAPE