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Collection 326 Papers of James Edwin Wright

Identifier: CN 326

Scope and Contents

Oral history interviews and personal notebook relating to the ministry of James E. Wright with Youth for Christ in India, Mexico, and the United States.

Series 1: Audio Tapes

Oral history interviews with James E. Wright in which he describes his youth, conversion and spiritual growth, education at Wheaton College and Multnomah School of the Bible, involvement with Youth For Christ in Portland, Oregon, India and Mexico, counseling and follow-up programs for mass evangelism, evangelism in the Indian context, fund raising, developing a correspondence course in India, evangelistic ministry of Billy Graham, financial aspects of ministry, work with the Navigators; involvement in Christian camping and Christian schools. Wright also describes David Howard, Jim Elliot, and Dawson Trotman. The time period covered by the interviews is 1927-1986.

James E. Wright was interviewed by Paul A. Ericksen on May 8, 1986, at the Billy Graham Center Archive at Wheaton College.

Series 2: Paper Records (Box List)

The scrapbook consists of material documenting Youth For Christ's work in India, circa 1951-1954. The notebook contents, removed from their binder, include photographs, clippings, sample tracts in several languages, a 1954 program for a Christian camp, and correspondence course materials in English and Urdu.


  • Created: 1950-1986

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on the use of this collection.

Biographical Information

James Edwin Wright was born in 1927 in Montana. His parents were divorced when he was two, and he was raised by his mother and later by his grandparents, before returning home again to his mother. He was converted around the age of six. He dedicated himself to Christian service at the age of seventeen and expressed his intention to become a medical missionary in India. He graduated from Wheaton Academy (later Wheaton Christian High School) in 1945, while simultaneously taking courses at Wheaton College. In 1946 he entered Wheaton College, but left after just one semester for health reasons. He later attended Multnomah School of the Bible.

Wright was busily engaged in various ministries between 1947 and 1951. During 1947, while studying at Multnomah, he helped start some of the earliest Youth For Christ Bible clubs among students; during this same time Wright was involved in a ministry to gypsies. He was enlisted in late 1947 by a Christian film producer to show his evangelistic film in various meetings several northwestern states. Later in 1948, he served on the staff of a Montana reform school, which enabled him to hold Bible studies among the inmates. He then went on to coordinate meetings on behalf of the newly established World Vision (WV), showing a film about WV's ministry. In 1951, he set up a summer series of crusades in western Michigan for Maranatha Bible Conference, whose speakers included Billy Graham and T.W. Wilson. He coordinated the enlistment and training of counselors, and afterward coordinated the follow-up program. During the same part of the year, he married Louise Warren, a Wheaton graduate.

That same year he joined Youth for Christ International and was appointed the Director of Western India YFC and Director of YFC's Bible Correspondence School with courses in more than ten Indian languages. (He was drafted to serve in the Korean War, but was exempted when his assignment to work with Youth For Christ in India was finalized.) Based in Bombay, Wright's responsibilities in India included setting up crusades along with Indian church leaders.

In 1954, the Wrights returned to the U.S. due to Louise's declining health, and Wright became the director of YFC's Counseling and Follow-up Department; based in Portland, OR, he conducted research on methods and materials to be used in evangelistic counseling and follow-up. (Wright was invited in ca. 1957 to work with YFC in Singapore, but the option did not materialize for lack of support.) In 1957, he returned to Wheaton to work out of YFC's international office. From there, he traveled throughout the U.S. for the next three years and shared his conclusions from his observations in Portland. In 1960, he worked in Mexico City with one of the first YFC Teen Teams, developing a training program in evangelism and follow-up.

In 1961, Wright felt he wanted to be more involved in local church ministry and he concluded his work with Youth For Christ to work in loose association with a number of independent congregations in Colorado Springs. At the same time he worked on a non-staff basis with the Navigators for two years. From 1964 to 1971, he served as director of Colorado Rockies Bible Camp at their facility, Camp Elim, outside of Colorado Springs. As with other endeavors Wright coordinated, the camp developed a program integrating discipleship and evangelism. In 1972, he joined the staff of Family Life Services, and also helped start Colorado Springs Christian School, of which he served as board president for three years. In 1976, feeling burnout from his counseling ministry, he moved to western Colorado where he led a church planting effort near Cedar Edge and was also instrumental in establishing the Thunder Mountain Christian Academy. At the same time he continued with Family Life Services as an extension staff member.

The Wrights had five children (the fifth was adopted) and provided foster care to other children.


3 Audio Tapes

1 Folder

Language of Materials


Accruals and Additions

The materials in this collection were given to the Billy Graham Center Archives by James E. Wright in May 1986.

Accession 86-45, 86-51

November 16, 1993

Paul A. Ericksen

C. Easley

Collection 326 Papers of James Edwin Wright
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