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Collection 642 Oral History Interviews with Susan Nivens

Identifier: CN 642

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Susan Nivens, in which she discusses her childhood in Michigan, development of her Christian faith, education at Bethany Bible College, joining the Summer Institute of Linguistics/Wycliffe Bible Translators, the relationship between the two; her marriage; work in Indonesia among the Tarangan people; raising a family in the field; the processes of Bible translation; Indonesian village life; Muslim/Christian relations; experiences during a jihad, helping to create and administer the SIL training program for indigenous Indonesian translators; Wheaton College and the Wheaton College Graduate School. The time period covered by the interviews is roughly 1962-2009.


  • 2009


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this material.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright to the sound recordings in this collection is held by the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives.

Biographical Information

Full name: Susan Jane (Harrison) Nivens

Birth: July 1962 in Flint, Michigan


Parents: Jim and Virginia Harrison

Siblings: A brother; two sisters who died at birth

Marital Status: Married to Richard J. Nivens in August 1983

Children: Three

Conversion : At about the age of six; reconfirmation of her faith at about the age of 15 during a meeting at which Edith Schaeffer spoke om 1 Corinthians 1:18-31


1976-1980 - Grand Blanc High School, Grand Blanc, Michigan

1980-1983 - Bethany Bible College, Sussex, New Brunswick, Canada. Graduated with a B.Sc. in Christian Education. (Bethany later became Kingswood University).

2008-2010 - Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, Illinois. Graduated with a MA in Intercultural Studies.


1983 - Joined the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL)/Wycliffe Bible Translators

1985-1987 - With husband Richard was assigned to Indonesia. First months spent in Java and then in the city of Ambon in language study and group service.

October 12, 1987-1989? - Translator for the Summer Institute of Linguistics (SIL) in Indonesia. Worked among the West Tarangan language group on the island of Maluku province, first in the villages of Doka Timur and Karla-Kalar, and then in the town of Popjetur [?].

1989 - First furlough, back to the United States

1990-1991 - Returned to Indonesia, continued translation work. Had to leave when Indonesian government suspended visas for SIL workers.

1991-1995 - Lived in Hawaii, while Richard Nivens worked on his dissertation at the University of Hawaii, Mona

1993?-1997 - Return to Indonesia, living in Doka [?] while continuing to work on West Tarangan translation

1997-1998 - The Nivens returned to the United State because their visa was not renewed

1998-2000 - Returned to Indonesia and continued translation work but were not allowed to live in villages. Worked from Ambon. Had to leave Indonesia during Muslin jihad.

2000-2003 - Trainer and project coordinator at the national Bible translation organization in Jakarta, Indonesia

2001-2007 - Chair of the SIL field board for Indonesia for the 306 field workers in Indonesia

2003-2008 - Returning with her Richard to Maluku to work on translation projects with local teams

Other significant information

Took SIL’s applied linguistic courses, the Bible Translation track in 1983-1984


3 Sound Recordings

315 Minutes

Language of Materials