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Collection 471 Papers of W. Arthur Saunders

Identifier: CN 471

Scope and Contents

Oral history interview and a manuscript translated by W. Arthur Saunders, relating to Saunder’s missionary service in China with China Inland Mission and Overseas Missionary Fellowship from 1930 to 1987. The interview describes his childhood in England, emigration to New Zealand, training at the New Zealand Bible Institute, joining the China Inland Mission, going to China in 1930, evangelistic work in south Gansu province, the work of Chinese evangelists, worship services in Gansu churches, Howard Knight, the Sino-Japanese war, Pentecostalism in Gansu province, the church under communism, leaving China in 1951, studying under Kenneth Pike. teaching in Singapore, reforming the Overseas missionary Fellowship's language training program, retirement, changes in the missionary enterprise since 1930. The manuscript is by a Chinese elder and gives a brief history of the church in Tienshui, Gansu province from the 1870s to 1900.


  • Created: 1992

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

Full Name: William Arthur Saunders. Generally known as Arthur

Birth Date: November 11, 1905, in Watford, England


Parents: William Raymond and Mary Isabel Debon Saunders

Siblings: Molly and Joe

Marital Status: Married to Elizabeth Mc Naught Bain May 11, 1934, in Shanghai, China

Children: David Arthur (born September 6, 1940, in Chengtu, Szechwan)

Conversion: August 1925 in rural Methodist Church in New Zealand


1927-1929 New Zealand Bible Training Institute

1930 China Inland Mission training school in England, language school in Anking, China

1952-1958 Studied Linguistics at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. M.A. in Linguistics Science


1924-1927 Emigrated to New Zealand in 1924. Worked in farms in South Island, New Zealand

1930 Joined China Inland Mission (CIM) in response to the call for the two hundred missionaries. Was assigned to southern Gansu province

1930-1946 Tsingshui, Gansu Province. Evangelism and church planting

1938-1940 Furlough to United States and England

1946-1951 Tienshui, Gansu Province. Evangelism and church planting

1946-1947 Furlough to United States

1951 Departed China

1952 Arrived in Halifax, Canada, on February 15

1952 Home staff of the North America office of OMF. Resigned from the mission

1958 Readmitted to Overseas Missionary Fellowship (formerly the China Inland Mission)

1958-1968 Worked in Singapore as Overseas Missionary Fellowship (OMF) missionary. Taught in Nanyang University, had ministry with Nanyang Christian Fellowship and Singapore churches. For a brief time was in charge of OMF language training program.

1963 Furlough in United States

1968 Furlough to the United States as of June 1968. Retired from mission, December 31

1968 Retired to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Part-time English teacher in Spring Arbor College for two years. Taught English for overseas engineers in University of Michigan part-time for four years. Invited onto pastoral staff of Huron Hills Baptist Church in 1975. Served on the Missionary Committee of Huron Hills Baptist Church, and Chinese Christian Fellowship. Preached occasionally.

1987 Retired to the OMF retirement home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

1993 Died November 27

1994 Elizabeth Saunders died April 20


0.10 Cubic Feet

2 folders

3 Audio Tapes

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Materials

Series: Audio Tapes Volume: 3 reels of tape (.06 cubic feet)

Date Range: The events described in the interview cover the time period 1920s-1992.

Geographic coverage: England; New Zealand; Gansu province, China

Type of documents: Oral history interview on three reels

Subjects: China--History--Civil War--1945-1949; China--History--1912-1937; China--History--1937-1945; Christian education--China; Communism--China; Evangelistic work--China; Gansu Province, China; Language in missionary work; Missions--China; Missions--Singapore; New Zealand Bible Training Institute; Overseas Missionary Fellowship; Rural churches--China; John Oswald Sanders; W. Arthur Saunders; Singapore; Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945; Tsingshui, China

Notes: W. Arthur Saunders was interviewed by Robert Shuster on December 9, 1992, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.


Series: Paper Records Volume: 2 folders (.1 cubic feet)

Geographic coverage: Tienshui City, Gansu Province, China

Type of documents: Two items: a book containing Chinese nursery rhymes in English and Chinese; a typed nineteen-page translation to English from Chinese of a history by the elder Chao of the Christian church in Tienshui from 1874 until 1900.

Subjects: Boxers, G. F. Eaton, Henry W. Hunt, Indigenous church administration­, China, Missions­China, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, George Parker, Minnie Shao Parker, Persecution­ China

Notes: The nineteen-page manuscript is particularly interesting because it is a history of a local congregation written by a Chinese lay leader in that congregation. It describes the founding of the church in Tienshui and the activities of the missionaries, and, to a lesser extent, the Chinese leaders over the first quarter century of the church up to the time of the Boxer Rebellion.

Related Collections: Collection 215, Records of the United States branch of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship (Folder 4-98)

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by W. Arthur Saunders in December 1992.

Accession 92-155

May 25, 1999

Irene Wong

R. Shuster

Collection 471 Papers of W. Arthur Saunders
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US