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NCN News - Church of the Nazarene

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"One of the greatest missionaries of all time has made the journey home to be with Christ"

Olathe, Kansas-Paul Richard Orjala passed away Friday, December 2, in Olathe, Kansas. He was 80.

"One of the greatest missionaries of all time has made the journey home to be with Christ," stated World Mission Director Louie Bustle. "Dr. Paul Orjala brought the Church of the Nazarene into modern missions. He was an incredible teacher and leader and he impacted many of us. He was the most influential person in my life in regard to missions."

Born in 1925, Orjala grew up in San Diego, California. He attended Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University), where he was student body president and graduated in 1947. In 1948, he married his wife and longtime partner in ministry, Mary. Orjala received a divinity degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) in 1950. He was ordained that year on the Southern California District.

He and his wife, Mary Orjala, are considered "pioneer missionary giants" in the Church of the Nazarene. From 1950-1964, they pioneered the work of the Church of the Nazarene in Haiti and while there organized and conducted the Bible Training School. According to the Caribbean Regional Office, currently 70 percent of the Nazarene church membership of the Caribbean Region is in the country of Haiti. There are more Nazarenes living in the country of Haiti than Nazarenes living in any other country of the world with the exception of the U.S.

During his furloughs, Orjala studied at the Kennedy School of Missions (Hartford Seminary Foundation) and received his M.A. in 1956. He was elected to the faculty of NTS as professor of missions and served in that role from 1964-1986. He started the School of Missions at NTS in 1964. In 1970, he completed his Ph.D. in linguistics and anthropology from Hartford Theological Seminary.

From 1986-89, he served in France as a missionary and, ultimately, district superintendent and mission director. He returned to the U.S. in 1989 where he worked as a religion professor at Point Loma Nazarene University from until 1995.

Orjala was an important linguistic scholar on the dialects of Haitian Creole. He was active in translating books in to Creole, including portions of the New Testament. Orjala authored several books and many article.jsp?id=2111">read more

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