Shortly after Pastor Kenny Martin began serving at John Wesley Free Methodist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana, there was a knock at his office door. His administrative assistant poked her head inside and said, “There’s a student here who would like to see you.” She added that the youth, whom the folks in the congregation called “K-J,” had a speech impediment.
Pastor Kenny welcomed K-J into his office. The young boy was hesitant to talk, so the pastor handed him a note pad and pen and said, “Just write down what you’d like to say.” The boy took the pen, wrote his message on the pad, and handed it back to Pastor Kenny. On the pad was one simple sentence: “I want God to fix my voice.”
A Heart for Youth and Cross-Cultural Ministry
Edward Kenneth Martin (“Kenny”) was born into a middle-class family in Brooklyn. His parents were a godly couple and served as leaders in their church. Kenny went through a rebellious stage in his teens and got caught up in crime and drugs. In his mid-twenties, after serving in the Navy, the young man accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. Soon after, he felt called to enter ministry and moved to Oklahoma to attend Mid-America Bible College. It was there he met his wife, Estelle.
Pastor Kenny began serving in Oklahoma at a church with a predominantly Caucasian congregation. Today, he laughs as he looks back on those days and serving with the church’s pastor. “I taught him to sing soul, and he taught me to sing country,” he remembers. That was just one of many experiences throughout the pastor’s ministry where he felt the Lord move him out of his comfort zone. “I believe God is always preparing us for the next place He wants to take us in ministry,” Kenny explained. For him, it was preparation for serving people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
From Oklahoma, the Martins moved to pastor at a church in St. Louis, where they served throughout the 1990s. Next, they re-located to Maryland, where they pastored a church for 15 years. In 2015, the Lord called Pastors Kenny and Estelle to serve in Indianapolis at the John Wesley Free Methodist Church. The congregation has an average weekly attendance of 150-180 people and just celebrated its 50th anniversary.
“Our mission is to reach all people with the love of Christ”
The Martins spent their first several months in Indianapolis focused on simply getting to know the folks in the congregation. As those relationships began to flourish, the Martins turned their attention to building the ministry team. Pastor Kenny has also been spending much of his time building relationships with the young people in their church, and with people in the multi-ethnic community surrounding the church. “Our mission is to reach all people with the love of Christ,” he says.
Lord, Please Heal Our Land
In the middle of a worship service during the summer of 2016, Pastor Kenny received the breaking news of the shooting of five police officers in Dallas. Shocked and heartbroken, the pastor immediately shared the tragic news with the congregation and called upon the church to pray. “This killing has got to stop,” he told them.
In the hours to follow, Pastor Kenny felt led to call pastors throughout the city to come together and pray for the nation. The following Tuesday night, several pastors representing a variety of denominations gathered with Pastor Kenny, and they prayed for healing and revival across the United States. The event was a clarion call according to Joel 2:15-17, “Blow the trumpet in Zion… call a solemn assembly; gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders…Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep and say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord.’”
“We have to keep seeking, and keep believing God will heal our land from hatred, because all lives matter.”
“We do need a healing,” Pastor Kenny says of the nation. “The main culprit in all this is Satan. What we have to do is put on the whole armor of God. We read in 2 Chronicles 7:14, ‘…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.’ My mandate is to call all Christian churches to work together in unity and to pray for our nation. That’s what God has placed on my heart,” says Pastor Kenny. “We have to keep seeking, and keep believing God will heal our land from hatred, because all lives matter.”
The Importance of God’s Word
“It’s so important to have a copy of God’s Word in my hands when I’m sharing the Gospel with someone,” says Pastor Kenny. For this reason, he always carries a pocket-sized New Testament he received from The Gideons.
Pastor Kenny has experienced first-hand the power of God’s Word and wants to see others experience it. “When I read the Bible, the words just seem to jump into my spirit. I want to see believers reading their Bibles daily,” he says. “I can’t stress how important it is. It’s the living Word of God. It’s active. It will get into your spirit and change your life. When Gideons place God’s Word into peoples’ hands, the Word shall not return void.”
Partnering with The Gideons
The Sunday following the 2016 International Convention, Pastor Kenny and the congregation welcomed the International Chaplain for The Gideons International, Jimmy Duren, who delivered a presentation. “He did a wonderful job presenting the ministry of The Gideons,” says Pastor Kenny. Within days of the presentation, the pastor began meeting with church leadership to review different opportunities for partnering with Gideons in reaching the lost with God’s Word.
As for young K-J, in the months since his timid entrance into Pastor Kenny’s office, the pastor and others in the congregation have continued to encourage him. The pastor has welcomed K-J at his home for cookouts and has also taken time to teach him valuable life skills. “We can see his confidence growing. There’s a glow on his face.” During altar calls, K-J will even come down front to lay hands on others.
After Jimmy Duren’s presentation that Sunday, Pastor Kenny drove K-J back to his house. K-J noticed one of the New Testaments from The Gideons in the console. He asked, “Can I have that?” Pastor Kenny gladly let him take it, knowing K-J would put the Scripture to good use.
October is Pastor Appreciation Month – a wonderful opportunity for us to express gratitude to pastors for their dedicated service. By sending a GideonCard, you can send warm messages of thanks and encouragement to your pastor and, in turn, donate Bibles worldwide in their name. Visit www.sendtheword.org for details.