A late start doesn't keep a 51-year-old home missionary from following God's direction.
I Wouldn't Take Nothin' for My Journey
by Jim Martin
Little did I know that a prayer from my mom over 50 years ago would have a lasting impact on where I am today. Mom prayed, “Lord, make my son a servant of yours.” I am confident that she didn’t know this prayer would lead her son on a journey to serve in New York, hundreds of miles from home.
When I was a boy, my mom and I enjoyed a very close relationship. She was my best friend. When I needed encouragement, answers, or when she was pushing me to succeed, she would ask, “Have you prayed about it?” Then she would say, “Just pray about it.”
My experience with Dad was much different. My dad was a very wise man. I always wanted to help him but was never really allowed to do so. When our family got a new lawn mower, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to help. I put gas in the mower and cranked it up. After all, I had seen my dad do this, and it seemed so easy. I was hoping to surprise him with a freshly mowed lawn when he got home, and boy did I ever surprise him. It turns out that I missed the lesson on the importance of oil.
After sleeping on the matter, I developed a plan. The next day, I began working on the lawn mower. (Huge mistake.) Well, I guess it wasn’t really a bad idea, because it led that wise man to take me with him to church. He gave me small tasks to do with his keen eye watching me. I really believe I taught him how to be a wise father. This interaction with my dad at church is where I developed a love for God’s house, and I also learned that if the work got done, somebody had to do it.
In 2006, at age 47, I had no plans to go anywhere. I was pretty much settled down. We had just remodeled our house, and it was nearly paid off. My family was located nearby. My son served with me in a church where I was pastor. Everything was going well.
Then, the news came that Dana and Betty Booth from Ohio were going to New York to start a church. I was thrilled. Since 1978, I had desired to go to New York to start a church. In the 1980s, I did some research and talked with Home Missions General Director Roy Thomas, but something seemed missing.
I had scheduled Brother Booth to speak during our annual mission conference and told the church that if I couldn’t go as a missionary, I wanted to do all I could to send someone. After he spoke, the spark turned into a flame as I learned that the Lord had also spoken to his heart in 1978 about planting a church in New York. It was then I realized that God had our paths cross for a reason, and my mother’s advice came to mind. I prayed. The seed had been planted firmly for a New York church.
By the grace of God and the people who prayed with me, God led me to New York. Now, at age 51, I am doing many things I did when I started out working in the ministry—a bus route, children’s church, and leading the music. I am busy and very happy. The lesson I learned from my dad so many years ago has kept me going. I love serving in God’s house and helping where I can. If the work gets done, someone does have to do it, and I certainly can be that worker for the Lord.
To many of you who are comfortable and making plans to stay where you are because of retirement, family, or career, let me ask, “Have you prayed about it?” Many people, both in the United States and overseas, need to hear the gospel, and many missionaries could use extra hands, even some encouragement. Are you willing to help?
Oh, by the way, that something missing earlier in my story was another couple. God will always provide the tools we need to complete the tasks for Him...in His time. Please pray and let the journey begin.
About the Writer: Jim and Sylvia Martin are associate missionaries serving with Dana and Betty Booth as they plant a Free Will Baptist church in Rochester, New York. Learn more at www.homemissions.net.