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Orville Jobson Exemplified Dedication

Sep 1, 2005

The following article is excerpted from the new BMH Book Heroes Who Live On, Vol. 2. Originated by CE National, the text was written by Robert Cover, Sr., and Viki Rife, with illustrations by Sarah Pratt. It features 13 Grace Brethren leaders from the past and is available for $9.99 at or by calling John Leonard at 1-800-348-2756.


Orville Jobson, 1900-1974

Orville Jobson’s push-car raced through the African jungle. It had a single motorcycle wheel with a chair-like frame. Two poles in front allowed a person standing between the poles to guide it, while two people behind it pushed.

Orville was on a 270-mile trip to join missionary James Gribble at the village of Bassai in the Oubangui-Chari province of central Africa.

Suddenly he stopped. Along the rough, winding path in front of him were strewn pieces of a tepois! His heart sank. A tepois was a fabric seat hung over long poles so travelers could sit in it while strong men carried them. Orville had watched his traveling companions, two lady missionaries, leave in that very tepois the night before.

The African heat had been very hard on Miss Myers and Miss Hillegas. They had begged to be allowed to travel during the cooler night hours. Reluctantly, he had agreed. Some of the 100 porters they had hired to get their equipment to Bassai had gone with the ladies, and the rest would travel with Orville the next day, bringing most of the baggage.

Now it looked as though that decision had been a mistake. Here was the broken tepois, and there was no sign of the ladies or the porters. Could wild animals have done this? Or warriors from local tribes?

Foreigners Not Welcome
Orville knew the French government had not wanted foreigners to go to central Africa because of the danger. James Gribble and the other missionaries had spent three years trying to convince the government to let them enter. Now it looked like the French government was right. What a way to begin his missionary career!

Orville knew Satan did not want missionaries to go into the heart of Africa to tell people about Jesus. He also knew there was only one way to defeat Satan. Jobson prayed as he hurried on. He must trust God to take care of the lady missionaries.

Finally, as it began to get dark, they saw the village. Everything seemed calm. In the growing darkness Orville saw a white face–then another. The ladies were safe! They explained to their relieved friend that their tepois had broken. Their porters had found other poles and stretched blankets between them to make seats for the ladies.

Jobson learned an important lesson in faith and trust that day. He would learn many more in his 36 years of serving God in Africa. Eventually, the Central African Republic would become one of the most evangelized countries in the world.

Two years earlier, Jobson had been studying at the Philadelphia School of the Bible. Dr. Alva J. McClain, pastor of the First Brethren Church of Philadelphia, was one of his teachers. Dr. McClain kept telling his classes about the need to share Jesus with people in other countries. Orville was interested. A year later, when the Missionary Board decided to send someone to help pioneer missionary James Gribble, Orville applied and was accepted September 3, 1921.

Designated Gifts Needed
Dr. McClain later wrote, “That left but two months in which to purchase and assemble his outfit. And according to the Constitution of the African Mission, none of the General Funds can be used for personal outfit! The money must come in gifts designated specially for that purpose.”

By the end of the following Sunday the outfit fund for Mr. Jobson had reached $900. God had answered prayer.

Meanwhile, Miss Charlotte Hillegas had also heard about the need for someone to tell the African people about God. She went to France to study French, the government language of that part of Africa, and she also spent two months in London, England, studying tropical medicine. She was to be a companion to Miss Estella Myers, who had gone to Africa with the Gribbles.

On December 31, 1921, Miss Myers, Miss Hillegas, and Mr. Jobson arrived at the new Bassai mission station. Orville was amazed at what Mr. Gribble had done to establish the station. He was building for them six-sided homes that he designed and laid out using only a pocket compass, an inverted aluminum cup, an empty oatmeal tin, and other items.

About a year after arriving in Africa, Mr. Jobson and Miss Hillegas were married. Shortly after that, James Gribble died. Orville Jobson was left with the responsibility to carry on the work.

The Lord had led Gribble to write down specific plans for how the mission would do its work of bringing people to Christ. He was convinced that Africans should be trained in the Word and go out to reach their own people. He also believed the African churches should make their own decisions, instead of being instructed by the missionaries.

Jobson carefully chose young Africans and taught them the Word. These young men became capable pastors who helped African churches establish their independence while still working well with the mission and the missionaries.

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