Into All The World: My Call to Brazil: George Orr - 1918-2006
This is the testimony of our esteemed brother George Orr who served the Lord in Brazil, and who went home to be with Christ on 18th May. We trust that it may encourage others to serve Him wherever He may lead. -Editor
I was born in Dublin on 27th December, 1918, the eldest of seven, and I dare not forbear to mention the prayers of parents and the Christian atmosphere with which I was surrounded. One Lords Day in my early babyhood, a missionary brother from India came to our home for a meal after the Breaking of Bread in Merrion Hall. He was the saintly Mr Handley Bird, and I am told how he took me in his arms in prayer and asked the Lord for my salvation and that I might become a missionary.
When I was 6 someone well meaning and with a care for my soul got me to sign a paper confessing my sins and accepting salvation. I did it to please, but it wasnt from the heart and I knew I wasnt saved.
I started work at 14, at a tea agents office. Here I found myself in the company of Christians who tried to force me or embarrass me into salvation, but, because I was shy, I didnt like to be cornered, so I became a resentful and rebellious teenager.
I reached 17 years of age still on the broad way that leads to destruction, but God was merciful, and on the memorable night of 23rd April, 1936 I was at a gospel meeting. I had been invited there in such a gracious manner by an elder brother, Mr Percy Jones, that I just could not have refused.
Mr Harold Wildish of Jamaica was preaching from Exodus 2, on Moses the child who was condemned to die but who was saved by the kings daughter. It was while he was speaking that I had personal dealings with God. I recognised myself as a sinner and pleaded with Him to look upon the cross in lieu of my sin. What a momentous moment to see oneself included in the work, ones sins covered by the death of Christ on the cross. Everything was changed as to outlook: I started attending all the meetings of the assembly and, after some time, I was baptised and received into fellowship. I became involved with the activities of the assembly and I can remember the day when, with trembling knees, I stood on a platform for the first time.
God in His own way brought me to ponder Brazil and His work there. The believers in Merrion Hall had a missionary study class and prayer meeting. There they would read up and present the characteristics of various countries, the work of God there, the missionaries and the problems they faced, and would pray for them. Sometimes we would have missionaries giving reports.
During this time I re-read Adventures with the Bible in Brazil by Fred Glass, that I had got years before in Sunday School. The book described rural Brazil, but didnt say anything about the big cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, which we would come to know some years later.
I started corresponding with a missionary from Brazil living in England, wanting to know more about the country and the work there; and I began to feel I should go and help in the work. Then, in 1939, the 2nd World War started and all civilian travelling stopped. But during the war the idea didnt leave me and was the subject of much thought and prayer.
At the end of 1941, my attention was drawn to a young lady and, after much prayer and consideration, I arranged to go for a short walk with her. I wanted to be sure it was of the Lord, and that she would also have a desire of serving the Lord wherever He would lead, so one of the first things I said to her was: "Did you ever have thoughts of the mission field?". Having established that we had that in common, by the time we returned to her house we were as good as engaged. Martha and I were married in Merrion Hall on 4th April, 1944, and from then until now (October, 2004) she has been a delightfully precious helper and is loved by all the Brazilian believers .
The war was still on and these were times when people had just about enough to eat and everything was rationed. I started thinking that God could maybe have kept me in Brazil, but could He keep me and my wife also? I continued praying and seeking Gods guidance.
The war finished near the end of 1945, and after a while the ships started leaving our shores once more for distant lands. While we were still seeking confirmation as to the will of God for us, one night in a ministry meeting, the preacher (Mr J B Watson - late editor of The Witness) read from Jeremiah 1, and the words that caught my attention were: "Thou shalt go
" - "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak".
Early in 1947 it was a never-to-be-forgotten spiritual experience to sit daily for three weeks in north Wales under the teaching of the late Mr W E Vine and Mr Harold St John. The latter also did a wonderful service in Brazil.
I spoke to the brethren about our exercise and they were happy to give us their full support and commendation to the work of the Lord. After that, arrangements were made and tickets bought and on 18th October, 1947 we said goodbye to friends and family and left for Brazil, with a certain fear and conscious of our weakness, but trusting in the Lord. He has never let us down!
We arrived in Brazil on 5th November, 1947, with a two-year-old son, Stanley, less than £100 in our pockets, knowing nobody in the land, and not speaking the Portuguese language. It was suggested that we leave the trunks with most of our luggage stored in a Gospel Hall and stay with an English missionary, Mr Hollywell, whom we had not met before. Some weeks later there was a flood which destroyed much of our luggage, including the books of our stored luggage. Mr Hollywell helped us during those first few days until we found a place to live in. He was a busy man for he knew his time of service was coming to an end. He died 6 months later of cancer.
Once we learned enough of the language to be able to communicate with the people, it was a great privilege to tell them the good news of Gods love, of the death of His Son, and salvation available to all. Most of our years in Brazil were spent in the states of Sao Paulo and Parana, but on many occasions we travelled to other parts of the country, from the North, on the banks of the Amazon, to the South in the Rio Grande do Sul, to point sinners to Christ and help and have fellowship with Gods people.
God has been good; He blessed us with a further 6 children and accompanied us each step of the way. What we have done for Him isnt for me to say; all has been taken note of by the One that is able to evaluate what has been of gold, silver, wood or straw.
In the past few years, due to health problems linked with advancing years, and my wife having to go through some operations, we have not been able to go back to Brazil, but we still keep in touch with those out there by mail, e-mail or telephone and still pray for the work, the workers and the friends we made.
At the beginning of August, 2004, I had to have a heart pace-maker installed, and as I was going in to the theatre I told those that were there: "If anything goes wrong, dont worry, my ticket to heaven has already been paid for!". How little it is that we do for Him, when we think of what He has done for us!