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Graham Roy Orpin

1957-1958 / NZBTI Diploma (Queen Street Campus)

Roy had been working on a dairy farm in Morrinsville for four years, and another year on a farm in Otahuhu, before arriving at the NZ Bible Training Institute in 1957 at age 21. Towards the end of his second year at BTI he felt God’s call to overseas mission and applied to the China Inland Mission (CIM). In the reference written by the NZBTI it was noted:

Roy impresses us as a rugged, reliable sort of man who would work quietly for God under most circumstances. He has our hearty recommendation.

At the same time God was calling another classmate, Gillian Eland-Stewart, to the same mission and after graduation they became engaged. They sailed to Singapore in April 1959 with other BTI graduates Russell Grigg, Jessie Hamilton, and Dorothy Beavan. After Language School, Roy and Gill were designated to work with the tribes in North Thailand.

The mission’s policy required a two-year wait before marriage, so Roy went north to Chiang Rai for language study and Gill went to Tak. They were married in Chiang Rai Thai church in April 1961 and moved to live in a Hmong tribal mountain village which was reached after a day’s climb.

The couple opened their hearts and home to these people and in turn learnt much from them. The village then moved to a new location on a neighbouring mountain where the people could slash down the jungle and make new rice fields. Roy and Gill decided to move with them. Gill was eight months pregnant at this time and after she was helped down to the OMF hospital at Manorom, Roy stayed on to build a house and move their belongings.

On a return trip home, on 16 May 1962, Roy disembarked from the bus, and as he walked through the bush, was followed by three men. He was robbed at gunpoint, shot, and left to die. A young boy found him and Roy was taken to hospital. He was seriously wounded and though operated on, and given blood transfusions, he died on 19 May. Gill was able to visit Roy before he died. Murray Roy Orpin was born 18 days later.

Roy is buried in the Christian graveyard at Pitsanuloke. On his gravestone are the words: “Graham Roy Orpin, servant of Jesus Christ May 19th 1962 age 26. With Christ which is far better.”

Gill continued to serve among the Hmong people in Thailand, and later Laos where she worked in Hmong translation. Following some years in Bangkok looking after new missionaries, Gill returned to England with Murray. In 1979, Gill started working as a parish worker in an Anglican church, which later led to ordination. In retirement she was chaplain at Moggerhanger Park, a base for Christian outreach ministry. She died in hospice care at age 78 on 30 December 2022 after journeying with terminal cancer.

Gill Orpin

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