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Collection 681 Oral History Interview with Mertis Byram Heimbach

Identifier: CN 681

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Mertis Byram Heimbach (1921- ) missionary in China, Thailand, Singapore and U.S. with China Inland Mission (CIM) and (as it was later known) Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) from 1946 to 1999. Topics discussed include childhood in Korea; parents’ mission work; Wheaton College and Prairie Bible Institute; marriage to Ernest Heimbach; Hmong (Miao) people; tribal mission work; Communist takeover of China; Communist treatment of Christians; CIM’s exit from China; new OMF headquarters in Singapore; family life on the mission field; evangelism through healing; pioneer language work; literacy education; Ernest’s appointment as OMF Field Superintendent of Northern Thailand and then Director of Eastern Region of OMF; Jesus Saves Mission; leaving the mission field; ministry to Hmong in U.S.; U.S. Center for World Missions. The time period covered by the interviews is 1921 to 2014.

Mertis Heimbach was interviewed by Bob Shuster on August 20 and 21, 2014 at Calvary Fellowship Homes in Lancaster, PA.


  • 2014


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

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: Mertis Estelle Byram Heimbach

Birth: January 2, 1921 in San Francisco, California


Parents: Dr. Roy Mac Byram (1893-1974) and Bertha Stanley Byram (1888-1964)

Siblings: Laura Belle Byram Armes (1922)

Marital Status: Married Ernest Heimbach (1922-1991) in 1944

Children: Daniel Roy (1950), Ruth Estelle (1952), James Herbert (1956), Paul Byram (1960), John Ernest (1964).

Conversion: Accepted Christ as a young child living with missionary parents in Korea.


1939-1943 - Wheaton College, B.A. in Biblical Studies (Wheaton, IL)

1943-1944 - Prairie Bible Institute (Alberta, Canada)

1945 - Wycliffe Summer Institute of Linguistics (Norman, OK)


1944-1945 - Ran chapel with husband, Ernest Heimbach, in Bozeman, Montana for Montana Gospel Crusade.

1946-1951 - Accepted by CIM as married couple in 1946 and arrived in China in December of 1946. Assigned to Black Miao (Hmong) tribe in Guizhou province until 1951 when they were evacuated along with CIM to the U.S. under increased Communist pressure.

1952 - Along with husband, helped establish and direct central language school in new OMF headquarters in Singapore.

1953-1960 - Pioneer missionary work in North Thailand among the White Mao (Hmong) tribal people in the villages of Namkhet and Palm Leaf, included a strong prayer and healing ministry, as well as husband Ernest’s language work developing a written script for the Hmong and building a Hmong-English dictionary.

1960-1962 - Ran OMF mission house in Chiang Mai while husband, Ernest Heimbach, was OMF Field Superintendent of Northern Thailand.

1962-1970 - Moved to Singapore when Ernest was named Director of Eastern Region of OMF. Worked with Jesus Saves Mission teaching children from Singapore’s poorest neighborhoods.

1971-1978 - Moved to U.S. when Ernest was named U.S. Home Director for OMF. Worked in US OMF office as secretary and copyist.

1978 - 1999 - OMF loaned both Heimbachs to the U.S. Center for World Missions to work alongside C&MA in their Hmong-Lao projects, ministering to Hmong refugees in California. Ernest served as the Associate for Tribal Refugees (and then director of the Strategy Division, Ethnic Ministries) while Mertis counseled, taught English and Bible, and helped refugees find housing, among other work.

Other significant information:

Authored At Any Cost: The Story of Graham Roy Orpin, published by Overseas Missionary Fellowship in 1972.


2 Sound Recordings

197 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives by Mertis Byram Heimbach in August 2014.

Accession: 14-31


Emily Banas

Collection 681 Oral History Interview with Mertis Byram Heimbach
Emily Banas
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US