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Collection 461 Oral History Interviews with John D. Ellison

Identifier: CN 461

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview with John David Ellison (1925-1998) in which he talks about his parents' work as missionaries for the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) in French Indochina (now Vietnam) between 1924 and 1940; his own missionary training at Nyack Institute; his and his wife's work in Thailand among Cambodians from 1950 through 1980; and his work in the United States among Cambodian refugees. Other topics discussed include internment by the Japanese in December 1941; methods of evangelism used in Cambodia and Thailand; distinctives of the Cambodian church; characteristics of Thai Buddhism; effect of the Korean War on missions to Thailand; effect of the Indochinese wars on Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s; work at Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand in 1975; moving to Wheaton and becoming involved in Cambodian refugee work in the US; and the need for indigenous Christian leadership among Cambodians in Thailand. The time period covered by the interviews is 1914 to 1992.

John Ellison was interviewed by Robert Shuster on October 2 and 29, 1992 at the Ellison home in Wheaton, Illinois.


  • Created: 1992

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: John David Ellison

Birth: November 15, 1925, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to missionary parents

Death: October 3, 1998 at his home in Wheaton, Illinois


Parents: David Witham and Muriel Eleanor (Harrison) Ellison

Marital Status: Married to Jean Arlene Beck in 1948

Conversion: May 1935 in Dalat, Indochina (Vietnam)


1932-1936; 1938-1941: Attended school for the children of C&MA missionaries in Dalat, Indochina

After period of internment by the Japanese, returned to the United States with family and finished high school in Danville, Ontario

1947: Graduated Nyack Missionary Institute


1947-1949: Pastor in Two Rivers, Nebraska

1950-1980: C&MA missionary in Surin, Thailand, where the population was 80% Cambodian

1975-1980: Evangelistic and humanitarian ministry in the Cambodian refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border

1980-1982: Lived in Lansing, Michigan

1982: Lived in Wheaton, Illinois. Active in evangelistic outreach to and relief work for Cambodian refugees

Other significant information: 1941-1942: For six months was interned with his family in Thailand by the Japanese as enemy aliens. They were exchanged and returned to the North America on the ship Gripsholm via Portugese East Africa and Brazil.


4 Audio Tapes

180 Minutes

Language of Materials