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Collection 252 Oral History Interviews with Robert and Joan Brain

Identifier: CN 252

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews with Robert Wesley Brain and Joan Gordon Brain, in which they discuss their life and faith, particularly their work as missionaries in Zambia with Africa Evangelical Fellowship. The Brains were interviewed separately for this collection. In the Robert Brain interview, he discusses his life on the mission field in Angola as a child and as an adult serving Africa Evangelical Fellowship at Catota Bible Institute until 1975, Manna Bible Institute in Zambia, translating the Bible into Mbunda and Luchazi, imprisonment in Zambia, 1987 deportation from Zambia and future prospects with the mission. In the Joan Brain interview, she discusses her decision to become a medical missionary, marriage to Robert, mission work as a nurse, teacher, and mother in Angola and Zambia, Bob's imprisonment, and their deportation from Zambia in 1987. The time period covered by both interviews is 1928 to 1987.

Robert and Joan Brain were interviewed by Paul Ericksen on June 11 and 19, 1983 at the Brains home in Lanham, Maryland.


  • Created: 1983

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of these interviews.

Biographical Information

Joan Gordon committed herself to Christ as a child of seven years, having been dedicated for this purpose by her parents. Influences in her youth which led to her choice of the mission field included missionary speakers in her church, youth conferences, and her desire to serve in a medical capacity. In preparation for this, she spent one year at Southland Bible Institute, Pikeville, KY, and then transferred for a year's training at Wilson Laboratories to be trained as a lab technician. She spent the following two years at Gordon College, where she met Robert Brain.

Robert Brain was born in Philadelphia in 1928, during his parents' senior year at Philadelphia School of the Bible. Rev. Leonard and Nellie Brain left on graduation to become missionaries in Angola with Africa Evangelical Fellowship. Robert's school years in Angola were spent at Sekaji School and at Central school in the Congo. In 1944 he went to Capetown to high school, and came to the United States to attend Gordon College, where he received a B.A. At Gordon Divinity School he completed a B.D.

Robert and Joan Gordon were married on June 20, 1953, while Robert was in seminary training. When his work was completed, he taught at Southland Bible Institute while Joan finished her two year training at Gordon College. Joan had applied as a single person to Africa Evangelical Fellowship, and after their marriage and the completion of her education, the Brains left in 1953 for Lisbon, Portugal, to begin the study of Portugese. From there they were sent to Angola to work at Catota Bible Institute. The Brains had five children: Jewel, Sandra, Kris, Calvin, and Betty Ann.

They returned to the United States in August, 1975, for a six-week furlough, expecting to return again to Angola. But the war for independence made the country too dangerous for them and their children, and the mission sent them next to Luampa in Zambia. There they worked with refugees from Angola of the same tribe and language which they had served in that country.

When the Brains arrived in 1977, the Christians in the churches had long hoped for a training school for pastors and Christian leadership. In 1980 Africa Evangelical Fellowship had 105 local congregations in this area. Classes were begun that year with 18 students, and in 1982 construction began on a building to be used by both the Sunday School and a new Bible Institute. In 1983 there were 37 students, Robert was principal of the Manna Bible Institute, and Joan taught in the school, worked with women, children, and adults in the Sunday School programs, as well as with their children's education until they were of high school age.

In 1983 the Brains were on furlough in Maryland and planned to return to Zambia. They were in that country from 1985-1987. They were deported from Zambia in January 1987 as a result of false accusations about their characters and actions as Christians. They moved to Pennsylvania in 1994 where they continued to be heavily involved with translation assignments in the United States with SIM International which is a broader organization that now includes Africa Evangelical Fellowship. As of 2008, they had travelled back to Angola and Namibia nine times to speak at Bible Institutes and pastors’ conferences. Bob was working on a book in the Luchazi language on Women of the Bible, having already completed books on both the Old and New Testament as well as commentaries in Luchazi as well.


7.00 Audio Tapes

382 Minutes

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Robert and Joan Brain in June 1983.

Accession 83-72

January 29, 1986

Frances L. Brocker

J. Nasgowitz

Accession 87-132, 87-133

May 31, 2008

Noel Collins

Collection 252 Oral History Interviews with Robert and Joan Brain
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Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US