June 23, 1921 – December 17, 2012
Dorothy Orcutt was born on a farm in southwestern Nebraska. The family moved to Sedalia, Missouri, where she accepted Christ as her Savior. She graduated high school in Sedalia and began attending the Free Methodist Church there.
In 1946, Dorothy entered nurse’s training at Missouri Methodist Hospital, St. Joseph. She graduated with her RN degree in 1949. During this time, Dorothy felt a growing conviction God was calling her to the mission field. In August 1951, she went to Burundi under appointment with World Gospel Mission. After 10 years in Burundi, Dorothy returned to the United States to care for her mother who was ill.
In 1966, Dorothy began serving as a missionary with the Free Methodist Church. What Dorothy thought would be a short term assignment at Rwanda’s Kibogora Hospital, ended up being a twenty year career. Dorothy’s brother Paul and his family were serving as Free Methodist missionaries in Rwanda, as well.
Dorothy worked as a nurse in surgery and the delivery room, but was also responsible for several outlying dispensaries – some she had to reach by boat. She described her other hospital responsibilities as “general troubleshooting, wherever the lines were sagging.” Dorothy’s interests extended beyond medicine, however, to evangelistic work. She found time to minister at women’s conferences. She was ordained first a deacon in the Rwanda Conference, then one year later an elder. Dorothy’s first circuit as an assistant pastor had six preaching points; her second circuit had nine. Some of the churches had to be reached on foot. Because of time limitations, Dorothy worked with the churches’ lay pastors and preached whenever she could visit.
Dorothy never seemed daunted by her tasks. She delivered a baby in the middle of a road, helped with exams for hospital aides, ordered medicines and equipment for the hospital, and supervised staff. She wrote of other interesting jobs she had to tackle: purchasing 80 hoes and labeling them for Christmas gifts; supervising a crew of men to prepare buildings and grounds for the annual missionary retreat; making gallons of peanut butter from scratch in her own kitchen for the retreat; and opening packages from North American women’s groups.
In 1976, Dorothy wrote in preparation for her sixth stint in Africa, “I am asking God to make this the best term of service I have ever known. He has given me this from His word – ‘the people that do know their God shall be strong and do exploits’” – from Daniel 11:32.
In 1986, Dorothy retired from missionary service, but did not retire from God’s work. She was appointed pastor of the Sedalia FMC, Missouri, and later served in a number of local church roles. In 1989 she married Rev. Forrest Hicks, who preceded her in death (January 1999).
Dorothy’s Colleagues Write
Martha Kirkpatrick remembers Dorothy fondly, “I still remember how positively impressed I was as a new missionary watching and listening as Dorothy counseled a pastor who needed help. She did it one-on-one but with me present. I thought I was there because the pastor was a man, and she did not want to be alone with him. Later in that meeting I thought she was teaching me while she was counseling someone else. Not everyone has the gifts Dorothy had. She was unique in her faithfulness as a nurse and as a Christian leader. God bless our memory of her!”
Sheila Etherington writes, “Dorothy was my mentor when I arrived at Kibogora for the first time in 1983 and became a friend and great supporter to me, along with many others at Kibogora.
“My first glimpse of her character came the day after I arrived. As I was walking down a corridor, I saw a pair of legs wearing men’s trousers sticking through the attic door trying to find the step ladder that had slipped from its place. She and the worker with her were helpless with laughter, but Dorothy just hauled herself back up to her favourite place and said, ‘Oh well, there’s still more to do here.’ Organising the supplies in all the small storerooms and attics was one of her favourite activities, it seemed.
“Her special sense of humour was shown in the most surprising situations, and many times she diffused awkward or scary times with one of her amazing one-liners.
“Another lasting memory is of Dorothy striding down to the hospital just after dark to ‘seek out sin,’ as she called it. Anyone caught smoking or behaving in any sort of non-acceptable way was confronted by Dorothy and her Bible, and they would quickly be on their knees repenting.
“Dorothy loved the vegetable gardens, and we would be invited at times to share an ‘experiment’ she had cooked up. To this day, I still remember the tuna chowder as the best ever.
“Dorothy was a woman of prayer and almost every day in the hospital staff prayers would bring patients and their families before the Lord in her own brand of Kinyarwanda. She had a passion in prayer not often seen today, that was a great example to me. She also had a scripture verse for almost every situation. I thank God for Dorothy and her example.
“Pastor Michel Wakana asked that I share this verse of scripture with the family. John 11:25 reads, ‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”’ Pastor Michel Wakana also reminds all that Dorothy is now receiving her reward and meeting many who have gone before her.”