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Collection 693 Papers of Jim Vaus

 Collection
Identifier: CN-693
Newsletters, oral history transcripts, manuscripts, correspondence, slides, photographs, audio recordings, and films relating to Jim Vaus’ youth ministry work in East Harlem, NY and later youth camp ministries in New York and California and internationally with the Missionary Communication Service. The collection also contains material on Jim Vaus’ work as a wiretapper for the Los Angeles mob prior to his conversion to Christianity at the 1949 Los Angeles Billy Graham Crusade, and the 1955 film Wiretapper produced by Great Commission Films that tells the story of Vaus’ conversion

Arrangement of material and folder titles are roughly chronological by material type. The arrangement is provided by Archives staff.

Note: The bulk of this collection is audio/visual material created by Youth Development International and other organizations, relating to Jim Vaus’ conversion to Christianity after attending the 1949 Los Angeles Crusade

Dates

  • Created: 1950-2001

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Extent

3.92 Cubic Feet

Audio Tapes, Films, Negatives, Phonograph Records, Photo Albums, Photographs, Slides, Videos other_unmapped

Biographical or Historical Information

Full Name: James Arthur Vaus, Jr. Birth: February 17, 1919 in Los Angeles, CA

Family:   

Parents: James Arthur, Sr. and Lillian Vaus

Siblings: Virginia and Betty

Marital Status: Married Alice Park on October 23, 1947

Children: Madeleine, Dennis, Steve, Will, and Roger

Conversion: November 6, 1949 at the Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Crusade

Ordination: Ordained by Torrey Johnson

Death: December 1, 1997

Education:

1937 - Belmont High School

1937-1938 - BIOLA, attended three semesters

1938 - Los Angeles Junior College, attended one semester (fall)

1939 - Wheaton College, IL, attended one semester (spring) where Vaus roomed with Carl H. Henry and Richard C. Halverson

1939-1940 - BIOLA, expelled after year semester for stealing school funds

Career:

1941-42 - Served 1 year at the Los Angeles County Jail for armed robbery

1942-1945 - Drafted into the United States Army in January

14942 where he worked as a Cryptography Security Officer and as a Signal Officer in Charge of Tactical Communication and Radar Defensive Network in the southern California area

1945-1946 - Sentenced to 10 years at McNeil Island Federal Penitentiary for misuse and misappropriation of government property while an officer. Pardoned by President Truman and honorably discharged from the Army in December 1946 after serving 6 months

1946-1949 - Opened an electronic consulting service in Hollywood with a storefront on Sunset Boulevard and began providing electronic surveillance services to the Los Angeles Police Department. Also recruited to work as a wiretapper for LA mobster Mickey Cohen. Vaus simultaneously worked for both Cohen’s crime syndicate and the LAPD

1949 - Converted during the Billy Graham Greater Los Angeles Crusade and subsequently retired from criminal activity. Shortly after his conversion, Vaus began holding his own evangelistic meetings, including Youth for Christ rallies and Navigator meetings.

1951 - Gave evidence at the trial of Mickey Cohen who was charged with tax evasion and sentenced to five years in prison.

1955 - Wiretapper is released, produced by Great Commission Films

1955-1957 - Established the Jim Vaus Evangelistic Association, which evolved into the Missionary Communication Service, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing electronic communication support to missionaries in remote areas. Due to financial instability, MCS was absorbed into Missionary Aviation Fellowship in 1957.

1958 - Relocated to East Harlem in 1958 to set up YDI headquarters

1959 - Started Youth Development, Inc. (YDI) in East Harlem to work with at-risk youth.

1960 - Launched plans for YDI summer camp for teens. Purchased 360-acre tract of land near Glen Spey, NY through the support of George Champion of Chase Bank. 

1961 - Camp Champion welcomed its first campers

1970 - Purchased the former Manhattan School of Music building on 105th Street and launched Crossroads High School in September to a private school to provide education to YDI troubled youth. First semester began in September 1970, but the school was forced to close after one academic year due to financial instability. Opened Crossroads House, a federally funded drug prevention center, and Crossroads Center, a community center which offered a variety of programs to at-risk youth.

1971 - Relocated to a warmer climate after being diagnosed with Parkinson=s disease; launched Summit Expedition, a wilderness adventure program for at-risk youth in the Sierra Mountains in northern California.

1972 - Camp Champion is sold to Teen Challenge

1973 - Launched YDI-sponsored hotline for runaway kids called National Youth Crisis Hotline and established Samaritan’s Ranch in El Cajon, CA, a home for runaway children.

1978 - Opened Green Valley Ranch outside Ramona, CA as another residential treatment home to at-risk, runaway teenage boys.

1980 - Opened Paradise Creek Ranch in Valley Center, CA as another residential treatment home to at-risk, runaway teenage boys.

1983 - Launched YDI-sponsored hotline for runaway kids called National Youth Crisis Hotline

1986 - Launched telephone ministry to latchkey kids called Tele-Pal in San Diego that connected troubled and unsupervised latchkey kids to trained listening partners.

1990 - Mike MacIntosh assumed presidency of Youth Development International.

1995 - Relocated to Head Waters, VA to open a YDI youth camp, Head Waters Lodge.

Other Significant Information: Jim Vaus credits his childhood interest in electronics to the influence of Atwood Chambers, a boarder in his family home and a Los Angeles streetcar conductor who taught Jim Vaus to build radios. Vaus published several books relating to his conversion and later ministry. Those titles include: The Inside Story of Narcotics (1953); Why I Quit Syndicated Crime (1954); Teenage Rampage (1956); The Devil Loves a Shining Mark (1974)

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by Will Vaus in August 2009.

Accession 09-46

June 2, 2017

Katherine J. Graber

K. Jennings
Title
Collection 693 Papers of Jim Vaus
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Repository Details

Part of the Billy Graham Center Archives Repository

Contact:
501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US
630-752-5910