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Collection 166 Oral History Interview with Roger Walkwitz

Identifier: CN 166

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with Roger Walkwitz in which he describes his early life in Wheaton, Illinois, education at Wheaton College, and experiences of 23 years in the Philippines (1958-1980) as a missionary with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade.  Other topics discussed include: the influence of Gil Dodds; the 1950 Wheaton College revival; work as a teacher-coach at Bryan College; aspects of cultural, religious and political life in the Philippines, including ranslation, church planting in the tribal areas, discussion of Philippine education, government, evangelism; Roman Catholic influence in the Philippines; missions among tribes; communism; the Billy Graham's 1977 crusade in the Philippines. The time period covered by the interviews is 1941 to 1980.

Roger Walkwitz was interviewed by Glenn Spitler on November 18, 1980 at the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College.


  • Created: 1980

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Missionary; born September 14, 1929; graduated from Wheaton College, 1951; taught mathematics and coached track at William Jennings Bryan College; married Naomi Hildebrand, 1956; received M.A. with a major in missions and minor in biblical education from Columbia Bible College; served with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade (later named SEND International) in Philippines, first among the Ifugao tribe in Banaue (1958-1970) and then in Bagiuio City among tribal group (1970- ); had three sons.

Roger Walkwitz was born in Michigan on September 14, 1929. Because his father was a civil engineer, he and a brother and sister moved often around the country with the family before settling in Wheaton one week before the Japanese attacked on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He attended Wheaton public schools, graduating from Wheaton Community High School in 1947.

In 1951, he received a B.S. degree in chemistry from Wheaton College, having also spent his first three collegiate years in track and cross-country running under the coaching of Gil Dodds. Those years were also spent in active involvement in programs at College Church, including the initiation of services to shut-ins, visitation, and the Christian Service Brigade. During this period, his future life focus remained on the fields of chemistry, physics, and mathematics with the intention of teaching.

In July 1951, he accepted a position at William Jennings Bryan College as a track coach and mathematics teacher, but was drafted into the Army for a two-year term of service because of the Korean War. These years were spent in quartermaster laboratory work in the United States after his training at the Petroleum Laboratory Technical School. While stationed in Los Angeles, his interest in the mission field, and particularly in Philippine tribal people, was awakened by attendance at churches where missions and this particular area was a concern, and he became convinced that the general commission of the church required a personal response from him. On discharge from the Army, he returned to Bryan College as athletic director and to teach chemistry for a one-year period with the understanding that he would prepare for mission service after that period. During that year, he renewed an acquaintance with a senior student, Naomi Hildebrand, and they were married in September 1956.

Roger and Naomi's preparation for missionary service included two summers at Wycliffe's Summer Institute of Linguistics at the University of North Dakota and study at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina, where Roger received an M.A. with a major in missions and minor in biblical education. The decision to serve with Far Eastern Gospel Crusade was made with the advice and consultation of Wheaton's College Church mission board members, among them Jack Frizen and Kenneth Taylor. The Walkwitzes left in December 1957 to serve in the Philippines with College Church as one of their sponsors.

En route to the Philippines, brief visits were made to Japan and Hong Kong to study mission operations there. Initial activity for Far Eastern Gospel Crusade in the Philippines included many areas: translation, teaching, evangelizing, church planting, and work with Overseas Christian Servicemen's Center. Gradually concentration was narrowed to training Filipinos and assisting them with church planting, both in lowland and tribal areas. For the first two terms, Roger also taught high school three separate years at Faith Academy for missionary children in Manila. His primary work, however, was in tribal areas. This was divided into two periods. For eight years, he and Naomi worked in Banaue, Ifuago Province, learning the language, doing personal evangelism, teaching in a local Bible School which they set up, and translating John's Gospel into native Ifuago dialect. Then, in 1970, the Walkwitzes were transferred to Baguio City, situated in the gateway to the mountain tribal area. Here the decision was made to switch to concentrated evangelizing of those coming into the city from the provinces and assisting them to set up churches in their own areas. Within this framework, Roger specialized in the ministry of personal evangelism. He remained in this work until May 1980, when the Walkwitzes returned to the U.S. on furlough.

The years between 1958 and 1980 included two study periods. One was in 1964 at the University of Hawaii for graduate work in chemistry, and the second for a summer's study in Tokyo after winning a National Science Foundation grant. Three sons were born in the Philippines: Ray on December 25, 1958; Randy, November 24, 1959; and Ronnie, April 10, 1962. In 1980, a ten-year lease was taken out on property in Baguio City with the intention of building classrooms, a chapel, and expanding programs in the city.


1.00 Audio Tapes

80 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives on November 18, 1980.

Accession 80-161

November 20, 1981

Frances L. Brocker

G. Spitler

J. Nasgowitz

Collection 166 Oral History Interview with Roger Walkwitz
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US