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Mel Latorre hones passion for mission work locally, abroad

In an upper level journalism class, 13 students featured faculty and staff members for a personality profile assignment. The students were not allowed to interview the faculty or staff member, but were instructed to interview their friends, family and co-workers. 

By Adyson Wessel

Voices echo softly inside Scott Chapel at Oklahoma Christian University Thursday mornings as students wait for Bible professor Mel Latorre to begin Faithfully Ever After chapel.

Junior Eleanor Love said she frequents Latorre’s chapel, which focuses on topics surrounding relationships. Love also said she was a student in his New Testament class.

“He’s not bitter but his dry humor reminds me of black coffee,” junior Eleanor Love said.

Latorre’s open-door policy invites students to speak with him when they are facing personal problems, according to Love. Love said she visits his office to discuss issues that are bothering her.

“I went to him first because I felt like I could be honest,” Love said.

His wife, Rebecca Latorre said she believes Latorre’s friendly nature gives him the tools he needs for both leading Faithfully Ever Chapel and his mission work.

“Outgoing, witty, and funny – that’s how I would describe him,” Rebecca said. “He’s never been afraid to introduce himself. He’s never known a stranger.”

Tim Lewis, preaching minister at North MacArthur Church of Christ and longtime college friend of Latorre, said, “Mel has always been friendly and makes friends easily.”

Lewis said Latorre is devoted to sharing the Gospel with others.

“He is like a traveling preacher training school,” Lewis said.

Mel’s parents, Mel Sr. and Marley Latorre were missionaries in Brazil when Latorre was bor September 16, 1975. Following in the footsteps of Mel Sr., Latorre decided to attend Oklahoma Christian to further his academic career.

Latorre met his wife while they were work study students in the Bible department. However, Mel did not originally intend on becoming a missionary, according to Rebecca.

“When he came to Oklahoma Christian he originally wanted to do something in computers I think,” Rebecca said. “Howard Norton, the head of the bible department at the time, encouraged him to go to Brazil as a missionary.”

Rebecca said when she met Latorre she knew he wanted to do mission work because he has a passion for sharing the good news and does so in a way people can understand.

Latorre went on five missions trips while he was at Oklahoma Christian. After graduating in 1998,Latorre and Rebecca got married and began preparing to work in Brazil as missionaries.

Under the oversight of the Clinton Church of Christ, the Latorres left the United States to work with an existing congregation in Curitiba, Brazil in 2003.

Mel served as a marriage counselor, taught as a professor at the church’s Bible college and was the pulpit minister. After serving seven years in Brazil, the couple decided to return to Oklahoma with their two young children. Since their return, Rebecca said Latorre continues to carry out mission work on the Oklahoma Christian campus.

“He loves being at OC because he loves interacting with students,” Rebecca said. “ He treats OC as a mission field.”

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