Acts America

Biographies of Great Christians


Victor Plymire

Victory Plymire and WifeVictor Guy Plymire was born January 10, 1881, to Amos and Laura Plymire in Loganville, Pennsylvania. He also had two brothers, Melvin and Ralph and a sister, Ethel. He committed his life to Christ at the age of fifteen at a street service. He went to school in Loganville and then worked for a time in electrical construction. But he felt a vocation for full-time Christian work. He became a minister of the Gospel Herald Society and pastored churches in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Stroudsburg, Shamokin, and Scranton. He also attended the American Bible School of the Pentecostal Bands of the World and went to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Institute at Nyack for a short time. He felt a strong conviction that he was to be a missionary. He applied to the mission board of the Christian and Missionary Alliance and was accepted. He was sent to northwest China and left from Seattle, Washington, on February 4th, 1908. He had as a traveling companion Ivan Kaufmann, another missionary. He landed at Shanghai and then traveled on to Hankou (part of the triple city of Wuhan) and from there to Hanzhong and from there to Lintan in the province of Gansu. This town was to be his base. Here, near the Tibetan border, he began to learn the language and to know the Tibetan people and their customs.

In October, 1912, he went to Xi'an to meet and escort some missionaries to the Tibetan border. However, once he reached that city, fighting and turmoil that had grown out of the proclamation of the Republic of China in 1911(Britian and China both wanted control of Tibet, China declared that Tibet was under their rule. This caused a lot of disagreement and fighting between all three countries involved), made it unsafe to travel back to the border and the group went to Hankou. He was then asked to accompany another missionary who was ill back to the United States. Once in the U.S. he stayed, reluctantly, for a furlough. Finally in October, 1914, he left the United States and returned to Lintan. He became acquainted with Buddhist priests. His acquaintance with them allowed him to visit several important monasteries, including Labrang in 1916 and Kumbum. While there, as he did in other Tibetan communities and with merchant caravans, he preached and distributed tracts.

On January 1st, 1919, he married fellow missionary Grace Harkless in Min Xian after an engagement of five years. They then returned to the United States for a furlough. While on furlough, he and his wife began to go to Pentecostal services and while attending one of the meetings they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Plymire then left the Christian and Missionary Alliance and was ordained into the Assemblies of God in 1920. While on furlough he pastored the Assemblies of God church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. During their time in Lancaster, the Plymire's son, John David, was born on July 13th, 1921. The family sailed for Tibet from the west coast in February of 1922, their son was less than a year old.

Once in Tibet, Plymire established an Assemblies of God mission station at Tanggar in the northeast part of the country. Tanggar was also known as Donkyr or Hwangyuan. The modern name is Huangyuan. In 1924, after 16 years of ministry, Plymire had his first experience of a person converted to Christ under his ministry. After that, the church in Tanggar began to grow slowly. He was beginning to make plans for an expedition straight across Tibet to India, during which he would preach the Gospel in many remote locations. First though, tragedy struck. His wife of eight years and his six year old son both died of smallpox in January, 1927.

Despite his grief, he continued to make plans for his expedition and set out on May 18th, 1927. He went from Tanggar to Lake Ko Ko , to Tsa Ka to across the Tsai Dam swamp, through the Burhan Budhai Mountains to Danza Obo. Then he crossed the Dri River through the Dang La mountains to the Shiabden Gonpa monastery. For a time he preached near, and possibly in, the city of Lhasa and then went back to Shaibden Gonpa and westward through the mountains on to Cheri Ma Lung, Gartok, and Rutog near the Indian border. He had traveled 2,000 miles from northeastern through central to western Tibet. He then crossed into India and followed the Indus River into Leh, then on to Srinagar and eventually to Calcutta.

On April 18th, 1928, he sailed to Shanghai and then to Beijing, China. There he renewed his acquaintance with Ruth Weidman, a missionary who was doing language study. They were married on August 8th, 1928, and a few weeks later, on September 3rd, they left for Tibet together with Ruth's sister, Elizabeth. They reached Tanggar two months later. Victor had a heart attack in early 1930 that caused the Plymires to return to the United States on furlough early in that year. While in the United States, their son, David Victor, was born.

The Plymires returned again to Tibet in October 1932, along with Elizabeth and her fiance, George Wood. In 1933 and 1934, Plymire visited the Kantsa tribe on evangelistic trips. In 1935 he again visited the monastery at Kumbum. In 1936 he and his family were forced by fighting between the Kuomintang and Communist forces to travel to Lanchow and were compelled to remain there until 1937, when they returned to Tanggar. Also, in 1937, their daughter Mary Ann was born. Victor's work consisted of assisting the growing church in Tanggar and going on preaching expeditions, such as the one in 1941 to the monastery of Dulan in northern Tibet. In 1943, Ruth had a heart attack. She returned to the United States to recover and took the children with her. Victor left Tibet in September of 1945 to rejoin his family. He arrived in the United States in January of 1945.

After a two-year furlough, the Plymires left San Francisco for Tanggar on February 14th, 1947. Again they resumed their evangelistic work. In 1948, W.W. Simpson came to Tanggar to hold evangelistic meetings. The next year, the war between the Kuomintang and the Communists once again caused the Plymires to leave Tibet. They left Tanggar to send their son and daughter to schools in the United States in June of 1949. While in Hong Kong, the news from the border made it clear that it would be unsafe to return for some time. The family returned to the United States and Victor eventually realized that because of the changed political situation, he would never be able to return to Tibet. The family settled in Springfield, Missouri, and he worked for the Assemblies of God missions board, preaching in various churches around the country and attending conferences, until his death on December 8th, 1956, at the age of seventy-five.