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Collection 230 Oral History Interview with John A. Gration

Identifier: CN 230

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with John Alexander Gration (1926-2012). Topics discussed include: Gration's Christian activities in high school and the U.S. Navy, education at Moody Bible Institute, Gordon College, and Wheaton College; his spiritual growth and call to become a missionary, his marriage, and his first impressions of and missionary experiences with Africa Inland mission in the Belgian Congo (now Democratic Republic of Congo), Christianity and culture, animism, superstition, AIM attitudes and policies, and the influences of colonialization. The time period covered by the intervewis is 1943-1955.

John Gration was interviewed by Kevin Palau on November 18, 1982.


  • Created: 1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

John Alexander Gration was born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1926. His parents had come from England and his father was a superintendent of several large estates in the New Jersey area. During his high school years, he attended four different schools, where he became active in High School Evangelism Fellowship and Born Againers' Clubs. A. Brandt Reed, leader in the former, greatly influenced Gration, who appeared with him on the radio program "High School Commandos for Christ." Gration received his high school diploma in absentia and joined the Navy, which stationed him for about one and one-half years at Camp Shoemaker in California. There he became involved with the Navigators in Bible study and Scripture memory groups.

Ralph Davis, Home Director of Africa Inland Mission (AIM), also attended Gration's home church in New Jersey and became a spiritual father to him. Davis encouraged Gration to go into missions. With a deep sense of call, Gration enrolled at Moody Bible Institute after he was released from the Navy. While there, he met and married Dorothy Harpel. After their marriage, the Grations moved to Gordon College, where Gration took a double major in Bible and Philosophy. While there, they applied to AIM and were accepted. Gration, however, felt the need of additional study before going to Africa and in 1952 he received an M.A. in Theology from the Wheaton College Graduate School. Gration was ordained by his home church in Ridgewood, New Jersey, in 1952. He served as an interim minister in New Brunswick, New Jersey (where C. Peter Wagner was one of his parishioners), and then sailed for Africa on December 7, 1952, together with his wife and baby son Scott.

Gration was assigned to the mission station of Rethy, Zaire (then called the Belgian Congo) and for the first three years, as he studied the language, was involved in helping national teachers (who were usually also pastors of local churches) with curriculum, providing physical materials, preparing Bible study materials and pastor's conferences. Gration served as a missionary in Zaire until his third evacuation in 1964. He then continued his Bible school work in Kenya.

In 1967, AIM appointed Gration to be its Associate Home Director, which he did until 1975. In 1975, Gration joined the faculty of Wheaton College as Professor of Missions and Chair of the Missions/Intercultural and Evangelism Department at the Wheaton College Graduate School. Gration received a Ph.D. from New York University in 1974 and also studied at Princeton Theological Seminary.

After his retirement in 1995, the Grations moved to the Windsor Park Manor retirement center in nearby Carol Stream, Illinois. He died there on January 29, 2012.


2.00 Audio Tapes

120 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by John Gration in November 1982.

Accession 82-165

May 29, 1992

Janyce H. Nasgowitz

E. Diaz

Collection 230 Oral History Interview with John A. Gration
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US