Orland A. Wolfram, Good and Faithful Servant
My brother Orland was a remarkable man. He seemed to excel in just about anything he put his mind to, or his hand to. As a teenager he began serious study of the piano. Our mother was a piano teacher, among other things such as a home missionary, preacher, and school teacher at all levels from elementary to college level. She gave Orland lessons when he was a youngster.
It is said that as a teenager Orland practiced as many as eight hours a day on the piano. Later he took up the pipe organ, and for years broadcast organ programs several times weekly on WAWZ, our pioneer Christian radio station in New Jersey. Later he would assist a retired organ builder and his staff install and test a four-manual Robert Morton pipe organ at Alma Temple. What music he could bring from that great organ!
Orland also became proficient in such sports as soccer, baseball, figure skating, and tennis. Later on he would play tennis, and share his faith in Christ, with military officers in Guatemala.
After graduating from our Christian college in New Jersey, he went to Rutgers, the state university, where he earned a master's degree in physics, chemistry and mathematics. For several years he served as high school principal or college dean in New Jersey or Colorado. Meanwhile he became interested in the design of buildings for our various ministries, at times superintending the actual construction, even in such earthquake- prone areas as Los Angeles.
For some years he acted as a home missionary and pastor in such places as Newark and Plainfield, New Jersey; and Salt Lake City, Utah. As time went by he felt the call to become an overseas missionary, thinking at one time of going to Germany, and then, when the way did not open, to Guatemala, where he spent the last quarter of a century of his life.
Early on in Guatemala, while learning the Spanish language, he assisted Rev. and Mrs. Ray Trotzke in their Christian school. In recent years Brother Trotzke has told me several times that the year Orland was in charge of their band, it was the best band they ever had.
Over the years he carried on work among the poor shoe shine boys and newspaper boys who were sent out early in the morning, without any breakfast, to help support their families. For years he invited them into mission quarters for bananas, milk and buns, and a Bible story and some words of encouragement to come to Christ and live a Christian life. A number of these boys in later years became pastors or evangelists.
Orland also became interested in a Christian orphanage, and taught the orphans ice skating, for instance, at a local rink. One evening, on his way to be with the children, a terrorist bomb exploded just in front of his small car, totaling the vehicle and ejecting him into the street with severed arteries and eyes full of glass from the windshield. His condition was so life threatening, along with others who had been seriously harmed, that his life was despaired of. [See Brother Orland's article, "Adjusting After the Bomb."] Two Christian widows, one the founder of the orphanage, personally helped nurse him back to a measure of health and strength. A Fort Lauderdale, Florida eye surgeon volunteered his services, but though surgery on both eyes seemed successful, Orland remained legally blind for the rest of his life.
Nevertheless he continued his missionary activities in any way he could, including the publication of tens of thousands of Gospel tracts, used by pastors and Christian workers in their ministry in prisons, hospitals, and open air preaching. Finally, after around a quarter of a century of labor for his beloved Lord, in his beloved Guatemala, it was time for him to hear the words of the Master, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joys of thy Lord."
In January , after helping with evangelistic meetings in Costa Rica, I was able to spend several days in Guatemala. While there I visited my brother's grave. Nearby, in the same plot, are buried the small child of two other American missionaries, and Rev. Ray Trotzke, who with his wife had spent more than fifty years there as faithful missionaries. Brother Trotzke had just recently gone to be with the Lord.
At the grave site
I had a time of greeting and fellowship with Sister Trotzke, now in poor
health; her daughter, married to a retired business man and superintendent
of a number of holiness churches in the area; and son Paul, who for many
years was a missionary in Alaska. Paul told me of the great influence Orland
had on him as he was a young lad growing up in Guatemala, helping influence
him in his Christian life, and encouraging him to let his light shine for