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Helen Renich Papers.

Identifier: CN 124

Brief Description

Two oral history interviews with Helen Gignilliat Torrey Renich in which she describes her grandfather, Reuben Archer Torrey, Sr., and her experiences growing up in China as a child of missionaries. Other topics discussed include her experiences at Wheaton College and culture shock. The collection also includes photographs of her family life in China and Chinese nationals, ca. 1920-30s.

Helen Renich was interviewed by Robert Shuster on May 15, 1980 in Michigan and on May 17, 1982 at the Billy Graham Center Archives at Wheaton College.


  • Created: 1920-1982

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical or Historical Information

Helen Gignilliat, better know as Jill, was born to Presbyterian missionaries Reuben Archer Jr. and Janet Mallary Torrey in Tsinan, China. Her childhood was spent in the Far East except for a furlough that lasted from her ninth to her twelfth year, which they spent in North Carolina. She was the oldest of the two girls and two boys in the family. From 1933 to 1936 she attended boarding school in Pyengyang, Korea, with other foreign children. After graduating, she returned to the United States to attend Wheaton College in Wheaton, IL. She planned to prepare herself for some form of Christian work, hopefully in missions. She graduated in 1941. It was impossible to return to China because of the war (her parents about this time had been interned by the Japanese), so Jill went to California to work. It was in California that she met Frederich Charles Renich, a missionary with Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, who was also waiting to go to China. They married in 1944 and eventually had four children -- Janey, Rosalie, Jacqueline Torrey, and Frederick Charles, Jr. In 1948 they were at last able to sail to their mission station.

They were only in China a year when they were evacuated because of the civil war. They went to Australia, where Fred spent two years holding evangelistic meetings and Bible-teaching conferences. The family sailed for America by way of Europe in 1951, with Fred following separately to tour India and East Africa. After reuniting in London and spending nine months in England and Ireland, they reached the east coast of the United States in February 1952.

The family moved to Wheaton, where Fred enrolled as a student. He also became pastor of a church in Savanna, IL. In 1957, he joined Missionary Internship, of which he became director in 1964 and served in that post until 1972.

Jill, besides raising a family, also spoke occasionally. She founded Winning Women, a series of annual conferences for women on the Christian life. In 1975, Zondervan published her book To Have and to Hold. Fred began Living Life Ministries in 1973 and he and Jill together would address audiences on how to "build the bridges of practical application between Biblical truth and everyday life situations." Fred continued in the work until his death in 1979. Jill, besides continuing the Winning Women and Living Life speaking engagements, also had a daily radio program. She remarried later in life. Her new married name was Renich-Meyers. She died December 9, 1999.


2 Audio Tapes

17 Negatives

23 Photographs

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives in May 1980, May 1981 and May 1982 from Helen Gignilliat Torrey Renich.

Accessions 80-69, 81-48, 82-74

  • February 2, 1981
  • Robert Shuster
  • Betty Pietra

  • November 24, 1982
  • Frances L. Brocker
  • obert Shuster
  • Janyce Nasgowitz
  • Title
    Collection 124 Papers of Helen Renich
    Bob Shuster
    Description rules
    Describing Archives: A Content Standard
    Language of description
    Script of description
    Code for undetermined script
    Language of description note

    Repository Details

    Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

    501 College Avenue
    Wheaton IL 60187 US