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Collection 217 Papers of Elisa Espineli Chinn

Identifier: CN 217

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of four oral history interviews with Lisa Chinn covering her childhood and family, education, ministry with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of the Philippines and InterVarsity in the United States, ministries with her husband Leiton in the US among international students (with International Students, Inc., Interaction, and their church), writing projects, and her experience as a woman leader. Also included are her graduate school creative project, "Cross Cultural Awareness: Offending the Filipino Without Even Trying," a manual to assist international students who have studied in the United States, in readjusting the their home cultures, prayer letters (1979-2020) describing her ministry among international students in the United States, and a resume (1979) and brief autobiography (1988) of her Christian journey.


  • Created: 1972-2020

Conditions Governing Access

A portion of Tape 6 is closed to researcher use until 10/21/2048.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright to published materials in this collection is retained by the donor. The copyright to the sound recordings in this collection is held by the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives.

Biographical Information

Full name: Elisa “Lisa” Espineli Chinn

Birth: January 19, 1948 in Quezon City, Philippines


Parents: Eusebio and Anastacia Espineli

Siblings: 2 brothers, 4 sisters

Marital Status: Married in 1981 to Leiton Edward Chinn

Children: The Chinns had three children, Lani (b. 1982), Eric (b. 1984) and Lea (b. 1988)

Conversion: 1962


1963 - University of the Philippines High School; participated in IVCF’s Inter School Christian Fellowship

1963-1967 - University of the Philippines, Quezon City, Philippines, BS in Foreign Service; also participant and student leader in the campus IVCF chapter

1970-1972 - Wheaton College Graduate School, Wheaton, IL, MA in Communications Career

1967-1970 - Staffworker with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of the Philippines, working with students on university campuses and editing the organizational newsletter, Campus Impact

1970 - Worked for the summer with Youth With a Mission (YWAM) in an outreach to Western hippies in Afghanistan

1970-1973 - Served with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (USA) among international students in the Philadelphia area, including evangelistic outreach, building friendships, counseling, linking students with American churches, and providing for their routine needs

1973-1977 - Upon returning to the Philippines, she was temporarily reassigned to campus work, and then appointed to develop the Literature Department for IVCF. In that capacity she launched Linker, a magazine for university students, and a multi-media program to evangelize students.

1978-1979 - Worked as an personnel administrator of a health club in Metro-Manila

1979-1982 - Joined the staff of Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship (USA) as campus staff among American students at Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Mary Washington College

1981 - Subsequent to her 1981 marriage to Leiton Chinn, who worked for ISI (formerly International Students, Inc.), she continued to work with international students for ISI through a loan agreement from IVCF

1982-1986 - Joined ISI (International Students, Inc.) as area team leader with Leiton to develop ministry to international students by conducting workshops among students and congregations, with particular emphasis on orientation for those newly arrived and re-entry preparation for those returning to their home countries

1985 - Launched church-based international student ministry—TIPS (Truro International Programs and Services)—at Truro Episcopal Church in Fairfax, VA

1986-1988 - Seconded, along with her husband, from ISI to Interaction, Inc., which also emphasized ministry to international students

1988-1989 - On study leave at Fuller Seminary for Leiton’s education

1989-1990 - Seconded to the Association of Christian Ministries to Internationals (ACMI)

1991 - Served in Interaction, Inc.

199? - Served with International Ministries Fellowship

1999-2008 - Leiton served as interim and later full President of ACMI

2000-2014 - National Director of the International Student Ministry of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (USA)

2014 - Ministry coach with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (USA)

Other Information:

1984 - Wrote the workbook Think Home, a "tool for Christian Internationals as they prepare to return home"; the manual was revised in 1987

Developed the only reentry simulation game, “Customs and Culture.”


4.00 Cubic Feet (1 Box (DC), Sound Recordings.)

426 Minutes

Language of Materials


Arrangement of Material

[NOTE: In the Scope and Content description, the notation "Folder 2-5" means Box 2, Folder 5.]

Series 1: Sound Recordings

Lisa Chinn was interviewed by Galen Wilson on June 3, 1982, in the BGC Archives office in Wheaton, IL; by Paul Ericksen on September 25, 1991, at Chinn’s residence in Centreville, VA; by Christian Sawyer on August 23, 2005, at the headquarters of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Madison, WI; and by Paul Ericksen by October 21, 2018, at her residence in Indianland, SC.

Topics covered in the interview include Chinn's childhood and family, education at Wheaton College Graduate School, ministry with Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship of the Philippines and InterVarsity in the United States (specially as director of its International Student Ministries), comparing students and the IVCF movements in the two countries, husband Leiton and their ministries in the US with international students through International Students, Inc., Interaction, and their church, key people who influenced her, writing projects on re-entry strategies for adjustment by international students, experience as a female leader, and her summer mission with YWAM in a teahouse in Kabul; the events described in the interview cover the time period ca. 1950-2018.

Series 2: Paper Records (Box List)

The manuscripts include Chinn's graduate school creative project, “Cross Cultural Awareness: Offending the Filipino Without Even Trying,” and several versions of Think Home, which addresses the re-entry and adjustment process of international students who have studied in the U.S. The prayer letters, written jointly by Chinn and her husband, Leiton, (or by each of them separately), document the period from 1979-2020; the letters report on ministry activities, upcoming events and projects, and a few family details.

Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Archives by Lisa Chinn in June 1982, May 1990, September 1991, August 2005, July 2018, and December 2020. Prayer letters were received as the Chinns wrote them and were added to the collection, 1993-2020.

Accessions: 82-81, 84-113, 84-117, 90-52, 91-90, 05-46, 18-40, 20-15

May 16, 1990

Paul Ericksen

K. Elwell

January 20, 1994

Paul Ericksen

S. Henning

M. Larson

January 06, 2021

Paul Ericksen

Collection 217 Papers of Elisa Espineli Chinn
Paul Ericksen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Roman Script

Repository Details

Part of the Evangelism & Missions Archives Repository

501 College Avenue
Wheaton IL 60187 US