Author Archives: Timothy Martiny

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Fifteen years ago today, I became a missionary.

Fifteen years ago today, I became a missionary.

Fifteen years ago today, I became a missionary.October 1st, 2002 we boarded a plane from New Orleans to Guatemala, the start of a journey that would change our lives forever.
I was 20 years old, had been married for three years, had two daughters, and didn’t speak hardly a word of Spanish.

The plan was to go and serve for three months with some missionaries we knew. For several years we had been going on mission trips to Central America, working with a ministry out of New Orleans called Cheer Up Missions. We had been to Honduras, Belize and El Salvador, and now Guatemala awaited.

Prior to my first trip to Honduras in 1999, I had never been to a “3rd”world country. After helping to load containers of humanitarian aid and wheelchairs for people affected by Hurricane Mitch, I decided it was time for me to go on a mission trip. While sitting on the plane the team leader told me that since I didn’t speak Spanish, and wasn’t part of the Gospel Clown shows they would be doing, I would be Santa Clause. At 120 pounds I was a little light, but with the help of a few pillows the next day, I was ready to climb onto a 20ft float, drive across town in 100 degree heat while waving and saying “Feliz Navidad”, and present gifts to hundreds of children who had lost their homes and were living in shelters.

I remember clearly when one of the kids came on stage to get a gift, tugged my beard half off and promptly yelled that Santa was a Gringo. Another kid wanted to sit on my lap and proceeded to pee, but seeing the smiles and joy in the children’s eyes, children who had lost everything and were so grateful to be receiving a Christmas present, had a profound impact on me.
For some reason, I kept making trips.

It was in late 2001, after I found out I was losing my job due to fallout from 9/11, and was visiting with my in-laws in New Orleans for Thanksgiving, that we were invited to go serve in Guatemala. We were sitting around the table after the meal, and some missionaries were sharing about the work they were doing, and how they needed help. For some reason I told them that I had been pink-slipped and was trying to figure out what to do, when they said “Why don’t you come down to Guatemala?” I don’t know what came over me, but for some reason I said yes. We had done week long mission trips, so why not three months.

Looking back, I can only say that the Holy Spirit influenced me, I didn’t even ask my wife or consider the fact that we would have baby that was only a few months old. If I had been older and wiser, I probably wouldn’t have “known better”, but in that moment I said yes.

The next 10 months were full of challenges, relocating back to New Orleans, getting temporary work, the birth of our second child, dealing with her health complications in the first few months of her life, and finally just going ahead and buying the tickets, regardless of how ready we felt.

The day of the flight came, and 10 minutes before getting in the car to head to the airport, I got a call from my grandmother. We were staying with my in-laws and where she got the number from I will never know. She had never called me in my life! I would call her on her birthday and Christmas, but that was it.

She was not a believer, in fact she still is an atheist. So when she asked me what we were up to and I responded that we were heading to the airport to do mission work in Guatemala, her reaction was less than enthusiastic. She promptly offered me a house to stay in for free, assistance with college and anything else I might need, if only I would not go to Guatemala.

Needless to say, it was a tempting offer. I remember telling her thank you, and that I would call her in three months when I got done with being a missionary. Needless to say, that call never happened.
Julia Martiny at the airport in El Salvador ready to fly to GuatemalaWe arrived in Guatemala late at night after almost missing the connecting flight in El Salvador. The missionaries who had invited us were there to pick us up, and as we drove through the traffic and chaos of Guatemala City, I never could have imagined that this is where I would dedicate my life to serving the orphaned and fatherless. Traffic, pollution, cement walls, barbed wires, and poverty everywhere, it didn’t really appeal to me, but I knew that God had brought me here, and I was going to give it my best shot.

As the days flew by, little by little I started to see the people as people. As I talked to them and heard their stories I saw lives in need of the comfort and hope that is only found in the Gospel. Slowly but surely a change began to come over me. It wasn’t based on passion, love or “a call” to service, it was grounded in a conviction that Christ had already called me along with every other Christian to a life of service to those in need, that the heart that He had for the for the orphaned, downtrodden and vulnerable was filled with love and compassion, and there was work for me here, if I would just say “Yes”.

A key moment for us was when I realized that our return flight was coming up and, the airline wouldn’t let us change the date without a big fee. I remember praying and telling God that if he could do a miracle and help us to change the date on the tickets, for free, then I would take it as confirmation that he wanted us to stay.

I went down to the airport and was promptly told that there was nothing they could do for me. However, the missionary who was accompanying me suggested we head to the airlines main office to talk to a manager. Upon getting there and explaining that my wife and I had come here to volunteer for a few months, but upon seeing a need that was so great we were committing to serving long term and wanted to postpone our return flights. The manager asked me for my tickets, checked something on the computer and told me that I could pick any date I wanted and she would be happy to change our tickets at no cost in appreciation for the work we would be doing.

I remember walking out of there with a sense of confidence that I had felt few times in my life. Even though we had no support, I didn’t speak the language, didn’t know exactly where or how we would serve, we had said yes to God.

To be honest, I didn’t have a precise moment when I felt “the call”, I had simply accepted The Call that is given to all followers of Christ when Jesus himself said in Matthew 28:19 to go and make disciples of all nations, reinforced by the His words in John 14:15 that if I love Him I will keep His commandments, and clarified further by James when he tells us that caring for the orphaned is on par with pursuing a life free from sin.

I came to the conclusion that being a missionary isn’t a calling, it’s an answer.

Beautiful lake Amatilan

Beautiful lake Amatilan

The first few years we struggled trying to figure out just where we fit in. The missionaries who had invited us down, ended up leaving after a few months. I knew that I wanted to have an impact in serving vulnerable children, but didn’t know how to go about it. What started as birthday parties at Chuckee Cheese for kids from orphanages, trying to bring them a measure of happiness, led to us serving one particular group of 12 girls at a small orphanage run by a single mom with a disabled son.

I worked hard at getting other missionaries involved, but finally accepted that God had called me, and I had said yes, therefore it was my job to serve them regardless of whether or not anyone else did, and so we did, walking alongside them all these years.

It has been quite a journey! I remember when I started out serving orphans it wasn’t that I didn’t know anything about serving them, but it was that so much of what I knew was wrong. My assumption was that simply throwing time, money and good intentions at the problems these kids were facing, was enough. Thankfully, God saw our heart and honored our efforts. We made mistakes, we learned from them and tried to be intentional about finding the best ways to serve those God had brought us to, as a result our ministries have continued to grow.

Looking at where were are now, running a community center in the slums of the city which serves over 125 children and their families, a daycare for the profoundly disabled, vocational training programs that serve orphans, the many children that we have discipled and the many ministries we have assisted over the years. I find myself looking back at how we got here, and I’m reminded that it came down to one key thing, we had to say yes, not to a call, but to The Call.

By the grace of God, we did and I am amazed at all that has been accomplished by God, for God, through God and for His Kingdom.

Students in our skills for life program in Colonia Santa Fe

What The Kids Say About Our Classes

Since you hear so much from me about the work we do, I wanted to give you a different perspective in this newsletter. Volunteers from our local church have been serving alongside us at our Skills for Life Community Center, working to teach train, train and educate the children. These letters were written after a recent Bible club activity. I pulled some excerpts from them to share with you.


denis and wilson

 

Denis Juárez

Thank you for the activities you and your friends bring to us. The thing that has impacted me the most was the Bible classes. I also love the Bible songs we do in the activities, especially the way they encourage us to praise God.
Thank you for your love for the children in Guatemala. The activities your church comes to do has helped me learn many good things, that helping others is very good, thank you for teaching me how to do it.

 

 

 

 


Madelin

 

Madelin Guadalupe Escobar Choc

I thank you for this great opportunity that you offer to all the children who are served by your foundation.
The personal religion classes have served me with very practical values I can use in my house, at school and while in the street.   I am very grateful because the computer classes help me a lot. I am taking advantage of them every day I can.
I am very grateful to God and to you for your great support and love that you offer to all.
I am also grateful for the church group who come in the morning to teach us for their example of how to love our neighbor.
God bless all of your friends for being kind and may God help them to bring more activities. Thank you for the opportunity to bring books home from your library, it helps to educate us and have better reading comprehension in the field of education.

 

 

 


Jairo

 

Jairo Garcia

Thanks for everything. I am very grateful for all the activities that you and your friends in your church have brought to us. We like to learn more and more about God. I like the activities they bring us, from them I have learned to share with others.
That’s why I thank you that God bless you for everything you’ve done and may God bless your friends for the blessings they bring us.

 

 

 


Rose

 

Cecilia, Sofia and Rubí De La Rosa Pérez.

We just want to tell you that we have liked the nice Bibles classes that you have given us. Thank you for always making space for us in all the activities.
Thank you for bringing us to your church because they give us examples of how to love and help our neighbor.

What we love most about the activities are:

  1. We like the excitement and attitude of all who come to teach us.
  2. We like the lesson they always give us.
  3. We like the games they play.
  4. We like the crafts that we always do with your church group.
  5. We also like that there you are.
Thank you because you encourage us when we feel like we cannot do anymore.

 

Noé marco Antonio Pérez Canu

Thank you for inviting me to the class. I learned to love my neighbors.
Thank you for the chance to have computer classes, I am learning to use a computer well.
The class I liked the most is to love my neighbor, that day was very good because the boys and the girls gave me examples that good.
Thank you for doing the favor of letting me come here, I learned to love, to be sincere, respectful and to honor God. I am glad to say that there are wonderful people like you at my side. I would like to extend my gratitude to your friends in the church. They are very good friends that God cares for. Your help has been important to me and my friends.


Jackin

Jacklin Lorenzo

Thank you for all that we study in computer class, I have learned so many good things. Thank you also from bringing your church and brothers in Christ. The activities they teach us help us learn to respect God, be kind to others and to be thankful.
I am not a good singer, but I like the crafts we do in the activities.

 

 

 

 

 


MarvinMarvin Estuardo Chun Aguilar

Dear friend Timothy Martiny, thank you for all the activities you have given us. I like everything that happens when brothers of your church come to sing and play and many more things.
Thank you for giving me a computer. I ask you to always bring your friends to do more activities when they have time.
Your friends are very good and teaching us to love our neighbors and friends. It is very nice to meet people like you. Thank you for taking us into account in your activities.

Graduation ceremony

Taking our programming classes to the next level

Graduation ceremony

We all have our limitations. There comes a time when we have taken something to the limit of our abilities and we can see where it needs to go but, don’t have the time, skills, or ability to get there.

I’ve often prided myself on being able to get things done, on being a problem solver, on being willing to tackle projects that others were afraid of, to start ministries with no funds or resources and to figure it out along the way. I believe that God gave me those gifts so I can use them for His glory, and they have served me well.

Yet a few months ago I found myself looking at one of our ministries, seeing where it needed to go, yet knowing that I didn’t have the expertise to get there. I needed help, I prayed for it, and God answered.

Ever since we started computer classes 12 years ago, with one broken computer in a small orphanage with twelve girls, I have constantly tried to improve both the quality and scope of our programs.

Over the years, through trial and experimentation, we developed a solid computer literacy program that has benefited hundreds of children at schools and orphanages all over Guatemala.

While learning basic computer skills and typing is an important part of being able to function in the world today, I always believed that we could go farther with our students.

I worked in technology prior to moving to Guatemala to serve fulltime as a missionary.  From the day I got here I saw poverty on every side. I didn’t just want to serve the orphaned and vulnerable; I wanted to serve them well. I knew that we had to do more than just say to them “be ye warmed and filled” but that we had to “give them those things that are needful to the body” (James 2:16). So if we were going to teach them the skills they needed to make a living, why not help them make a living in technology?

Tim Keller, in his article on The Gospel and the Poor wrote:

“Jesus calls Christians to be “witnesses,” to evangelize others, but also to be deeply concerned for the poor. He calls his disciples both to “gospel-messaging” (urging everyone to believe the gospel) and to “gospel-neighboring” (sacrificially meeting the needs of those around them whether they believe or not! The two absolutely go together.”

Mely Corona teaching web design to our students

Mely Corona teaching web design to our students

I believe that our work teaching vulnerable children job skills, falls clearly into the “gospel-neighboring” category.

But taking children who have never touched a computer, and turning them into computer programmers, is quite a journey. To be honest, I didn’t know how we would get there, so I tackled it like I do everything else I don’t know how to do, by praying, and then jumping in and trying things. My plan was simply to introduce the kids to technology, and see where it went from there, and it worked.

Years ago, God led us to one of the more dangerous parts of town called Colonia Santa Fe, and, in partnership with a small school, we implemented a program that taught students computer literacy It started very basic, teaching them how to place their hands on the keyboard, how to use a mouse, typing skills and they progressed to learning to use MS office applications.

With Wilson, one of our best students, at Graduation

With Wilson, one of our best students, at Graduation

Eventually we started our own community center and opened it up the whole community. Our enrollment grew to over 100 students coming for Bible and computer classes. We got an internet connection and it was amazing to see students advance within just a few short months from never having touched a computer to doing homework, school reports and making online investigations. More than anything, I could see it was opening up their minds as they realized just how much there was to learn.

We started to see students who were especially gifted, had an aptitude for technology, were ready to learn more, and were learning faster than I could figure out how to teach them.

It was time to let go, find someone who better knew how to do this, and let them run with it. We did and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made.

I reached out to one of the only people I knew in the Guatemalan tech sector, an app developer and entrepreneur from church. Within a few minutes he had helped me make a connection that would change everything.

Melissa Corona is a web designer at Royale Design Studios in Guatemala and teaches at a university. Though only in her 20’s, she has worked on designing and branding for some of the biggest names in Guatemala. She is an active Christian with a heart of gold. When she heard about our project, she immediately started working on creating a course for our kids. Not only did she design the curriculum, but for two months she came every single week to teach it, and she convinced some other programmers and developers to get involved as well.

From her first visit, when she gathered the students in a circle and led them in prayer, I knew that God had brought us someone special. We had 15 of our advanced students in the class, and their progress has been nothing short of astounding. She even brought the kids to visit the design studio where she works.

It turned out that the founder of the company was from the same neighborhood where we have our community center. It’s one of the more dangerous parts of the city, with high crime, few opportunities and limited resources. He had started coding as a teenager, opened a business in his garage, and now has one of the top web design companies in the country.

Our students had basic computer skills, so this class was able to build on that and teach them to use; g-drive for file sharing, Canva.com for graphics and presentations, google earth for research, and HTML for basic web design. It was amazing to see our students sit through hours of class on Saturday hungry to learn and begging for the class not to stop, then watch them work throughout the week practicing what they had learned.

Javier, the founder of Royale Design Studios, who grew up in the same neighborhood where we work

Javier, the founder of Royale Design Studios, who grew up in the same neighborhood where we work

It was everything that I had dreamed of, and more. One thing that really excited me, was to see these young professionals, all of who are tops in their fields, eager to get involved with teaching these kids. The knowledge, passion and excitement they have for what they do, and their enthusiasm for their work, was contagious and the students began to see that they could make a career of this.

At the end of the program Melissa organized a fabulous graduation ceremony in her office building. She went all out, recruiting friends and volunteers to decorate the place and purchase gifts for the children, there was a live musical performance by a Christian singer, diplomas and refreshments. The children and families showed up in their Sunday best and our students prepared a skit about the value of a teacher.

We gave out diplomas and I was able to say a few words of thanks and give an explanation about our ministry. For me the most beautiful part of the ceremony was when she got up to speak. In sharing about the program and complementing the kids on the progress they had made, she was moved to tears as she described how working with these kids had changed her. She said she was thankful for the opportunity and felt blessed to get to know them and be involved in their lives. Afterwards several of her friends and family came up to me asking about our ministry and how they could help.

Mely told me that her company is going to continue to work with us on developing courses for our students and that we could count on them for their help.

This two month pilot program will be expanded to the rest of our students over the coming year and the students who finished it will be assisting in the teaching. Our next step will be getting all our students taking classes on www.code.org.

Beyond the mere educational value of class, I saw how much our students needed this. They needed to see people like them, not just some American missionary, investing in their lives. They needed people to come in and spend time with them, encourage them, compliment them and validate them as people. They needed to hear from someone who had succeeded to believe that they could do it as well. They needed someone to show them that they mattered. Often times the best example of to us of God’s love, is how it is demonstrated by those we come in contact with.

As I look back on this journey, a few things stand out to me. I had to be willing to take those first steps to start our program even though I didn’t fully know what I was doing, had almost no resources and didn’t have it all figured out. I had to be faithful to stick with the program, slowly building the foundation in these children’s lives, both spiritually through our Bible classes, Bible club and VBS, and educationally by teaching them computer skills. Finally, I had to reach out and partner with people who are experts in their field and let them take it to the next level.

In many ways that defines much of what we have done as a missionary over the years. We start programs, get them going, and then empower others to take them and run with it.

Understanding that this work is bigger than me, that our investing in these kid’s lives, giving them a safe place to learn, pouring into them spiritually, and equipping them to live a productive life as faithful servants of God, is just one small part of His plan for redemption and restoration of the world.

As I look back at how far we have come, where we are now and where we are going, I believe that this is still just the beginning, and the stories we will have to tell in the future, will far outshine the ones we tell now.

Sometimes being a missionary is about a nut and a bolt.

  Yes, you read that right, not the nuts and bolts, just a nut and a bolt. Having spent almost 15 years in Guatemala, I’ve learned a few things, like how to get things done, where to find things and who does a good job.

Developing countries are different in the sense that reliable help is often hard to find and once you find someone who does a good job, you hang on to them. Mission teams often comment that I seem to have a guy for everything. Need an appliance fixed? I Got a guy. Need a doctor or specialist? I Got a guy. Need to import your vehicle? I Got a guy. Need special ingredients? Got a guy. But probably the most helpful and in demand, need your car fixed? I got a guy.

There is a missionary mailing list that goes around in Guatemala & often times there are requests by new missionaries about where to find something or someone. As often as possible, I try and take the a few minutes to send a quick response pointing them in the right direction. Proverbs 3:27 tells us “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.” Many times in scripture, Christ demonstrated this for us, both through his teachings, and his actions.

I vividly remember when I first came to Guatemala, a young 20 year old missionary who didn’t know any Spanish and had never lived in a developing country. It was hard, there were few people to help me out or teach me the ropes. I remember how many times I needed council or advice and didn’t know where to turn. As time passes and I learned how to do things and where to get help, I have tried as much as possible to share that information with others, always remembering Mathew 5:42 “Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” This is instruction that is given to all followers of Christ, not just missionaries.

Our first years in Guatemala, our resources were especially meager. Regardless of that, I have always believed, and more importantly, tried to act as if I was only the steward of whatever resources God had entrusted to me and everything I had belonged to Him. It is rare that any of us can meet someone’s needs completely, but I think we can always help everyone in some way, if we trust that God has brought that need to our door, then we can trust that He will provide us with the means to meet it.

God has tested us on this many times, years ago, when we were in extremely tight circumstances, a missionary family we knew with 5 kids was staying in a one room apartment. We had 5 kids in our small home, but we made room and took them in for a few months to help them get on their feet, save money, and move on. We could barely pay our own bills at the time and it was a real stretch for us both physically and financially. Yet, when many others around us with greater resources declined to help, we felt we had no choice.

A ministry leader of a US based missions organization was recently visiting our community center. They wanted to see how we ran our programs as they were setting up something similar. I gladly shared my knowledge, offered assistance and whatever resources I could. Towards the end of our meeting, she told me that I was one of the few missionaries she had met that was willing to help other ministries, most people just didn’t seem to have an interest or desire to partner, serve or work outside of what they were doing. Her words were a great encouragement to me as there have been times when it seemed God was the only one who noticed.

Over the years I’ve lent vehicles to missionaries countless times, my vehicle are old, but we baby them as the roads we drive are rough and we would be hard pressed to replace them. Several times the vehicles have come back in poor shape when we loaned them out to missionaries and they did not take care of them. Did that make it difficult to keep giving? Yes? Did I wonder if I was being a good steward with what God had given me? Yes. But I decided long ago that if I was going to make a mistake in regards to my giving, it was going to be on the side of giving too much and not too little.

James 2:14-16 tells us otherwise “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

Almost every time we have given to others it has cost us. When a missionary drove here at Christmas several years ago, and the transmission went out on their vehicle, we cancelled our family vacation so I could work with him to get his car fixed and I lent him my truck for 5 weeks. When a missionary had an accident which resulted in his vehicle being impounded and he asked to borrow my van for week, but kept it for months and months, we let them. When another missionary moved here and needed a vehicle to get around until she could buy one, we lent her ours.

When a missionaries have needed help with legal paperwork, immigrations or importing things, I have given up days and days to help them, and it has cost us.

Yet if time is money, and if God is the true owner of all that I have, does not my time belong to him as well?

A few weeks ago I got a call from some missionaries I had met only once. They do a wonderful job running an orphanage far outside the city. The phone call was a cry for help. They were on their way into the city and due to fly out the next morning. Evidently there was a clunk and their microbus was no longer shifting gears. They didn’t know anyone else to call, but they had my number and were wondering what I could do.

That day, like most days, it was an extremely busy one for me. It was the only time I had set aside in the whole week to sit at my computer, get my newsletter done and answer the backlog of emails that had piled up while I was busy teaching and ministering. Going out to help them would mean trying to fit the work in late at night after my kids went to bed and I was tired. But what choice did I have? If that person in need represented Jesus, and he was calling me asking for help, could I really say no?

So I did what I always do, I called around for one of my guys. My first two mechanics where not available, but the assistant of guy number three was, as long as I could drive out, pick him up and take him to where they had broken down. So that’s what I did. While I talked with the missionaries about their ministries, the mechanic was able to diagnose that the bolt connecting the gear shifter to the shifter bars in the transmission had fallen out. Digging through his toolbox he was able to find a nut and bolt that were exactly the right size, fix the van and send them on their way.

As I took the mechanic back to his shop, he asked me if they were close friends of mine. I responded that they weren’t, but they were people in need and that God had chosen me to help them. He was quiet for a minute and then said he didn’t know anyone who would do that for someone they barely knew. I told him that there were many times in my life when I needed help and God sent someone to help me, so I try and help others that God sends my way.

It is my belief that if each and every professing follower of Christ would simply obey His explicit commandments in Mathew 5:42, James 2:16 and Galatians 5:13, to serve those that come to us in need, then we would see His Kingdom come alive around us as His will was done, though us.

He agreed and told me to call him any time with anything I needed help. I responded in kind and gave him my card.

I got home having missed most of the time I had set aside for the work I had to do, yet rejoicing inside at the opportunity God had given me, not just to serve another one of His children, but that my service could be a testimony to others in the process.

My hope and prayer in sharing this with you, is not to give ourselves a pat on the back, but to encourage and motivate you to be alert and aware of the opportunities in your own life to serve those in need, who God places in your path.

Sincerely,
Tim and Sharie Martiny

Galatians 5:13 “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

CADANINO, CEI

Serving those with special needs

CADANINO, CEIOver the years, we have been involved with a variety of different ministries. Despite seeming differences in the profile or place where we serve, one thing has always remained constant; we look to aid those in need, to love, teach, train, empower and equip those who, many times, do not have the ability or resources to do help themselves.

Understanding the love that God has for us has given us the desire to show that to love others. It is what led us to serve orphans. It is what led us to open a community center to serve vulnerable families in the hopes of keeping their kids out of orphanages. And, it is what led me at the beginning of this year, to take over running a ministry serving the disabled.

The ministry was founded by a good friend, Jamie Waller, when he saw the need to improve the care for the disabled in Guatemala. What started out as a simple project of hiring Christian caregivers to work inside an institution, eventually became a “Dayhab” facility that provides care for children with PMLD (Profound Multiple Learning Disabilities).

Every day 17 children come into our center to be loved and cared for by caregivers, physical therapists, occupational therapists and special educators. Some are in wheelchairs, many wear diapers and almost none can talk. I am there two days a week and responsible for the management of the program, supervising the staff and ensuring that we are doing the best we can to serve these children.

Why? You might ask, with all that I have on my plate, teaching vocational training programs in an orphanage, running our community center in the slums and everything that our ministry entails, would I choose to take on more work, specifically serving the disabled?

Ultimately, we find the answers not just in scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:14 “For the love of Christ constrains us;” but in examples laid out for us by the early church.

Compassion and kindness were not well-developed virtues among the pagan Romans. Mercy was discouraged. They saw it as helping those who were too weak to contribute to society, and therefore a wasted effort. In the squalid, unsanitary hovels of the typical Roman city, with their miserable cycle of famines and plagues, the sick found no public institutions devoted to their care and little in the way of sympathy or help. Perhaps a family member would come to their aid, but often times even close relatives would leave their own to die.

In Rome, sick or elderly slaves were often left to waste away or exiled to an island. Unwanted children, especially disabled or “defective” newborns were left to die of exposure. It became such a common practice, it was written into the Twelve Tables of Roman law that deformed infants should be killed and it was common practice to drown children who were weakly or abnormal.

This is one of the reasons why the sincere charity and compassion of the early Christians was so powerful. Central to Christian belief was the understanding that God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14a). They understood that the motivation for our service and charity was God’s self-giving love to us, reflected in His nature (1 John 4:8). God loved the human race enough to send Christ in human flesh, to die on a cross for our sins (John 3:16).

Understanding God’s love caused them to respond in kind by demonstrating their love, not just to their fellow Christians, but to all humanity which John 13: 34 and 35 tells us was created in God’s image. Their practical morality was a radical departure from the social norms of the day and laid the foundation for Christian philanthropy. Despite great danger, hardship and persecution, the early church carried on in active ministry to those in need.

Even today, in our supposedly advanced culture, it can be easy to look on someone with a disability and assume that there is something “wrong” with them, that they are broken or need fixing. Yet the truth is that we, each and every one of us, are broken; in some way. We must understand that there is more to a person than just their physical bodies, we are spirit and soul as well. Just because someone’s body does not seem to work correctly, does it in any way shape or form make them less of a person?

When we understand, from a holistic perspective, that all human beings bear God’s image, regardless of their physical or mental capacity, we see that the image of God cannot be compromised or lost in any way and we recognize that even the poorest functioning human being is a profound reflection of God’s image and worthy of our love.

That is what we are trying to accomplish in our Dayhab. Loving them as God has loved us. Ours is a program with a great many challenges and difficulties. It’s not easy to work with them, many have been starved of love, care and affection for much of their lives. Some have been abused or abandoned by their families. Others suffer the effects of long term neglect, malnutrition or institutionalization.

Yet each and every one of them is deserving of our love. Each and every one of them deserves to be treated with dignity and respect as someone made in God’s image. When they are treated as people, they start to respond as people. Yes, it takes time to undo all the harm that has been done to them in their lives. Yet, as we and our staff care for them, we see them change. We see them improve. We see them come out of their shell. We see them learn new skills and abilities, and, most wonderfully, we see them react to being loved.

For many, their physical condition may never change here on this earth, yet, through our ministry to their spirit, soul and body, we are living out what it means to understand the love that God has for us, by showing it to them.

1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Martiny Family Missionaries 2017 Mid Year Highlights

  • Took over as General Manager of CEI, a daycare for the profoundly disabled. Our staff of PT’s/OT’s/Special Educators and caretakers work to meet the personalized needs of these precious individuals, helping them to live lives that are as structured, independent and joyful as possible.
  • Over 100 children are enrolled in afternoon programs at our community center where students have Bible classes, learn computer skills and receive help with homework.
  • Opened a lending library at our community center for the students.
  • Worked with our local church, Casa De Libertad, to do an outreach to the children and parents at our community center, volunteers lead a VBS, ministered to the parents and provided much needed backpacks and school supplies to the children.
  • Started a women’s Bible study group with mothers and relatives of the children who attend our community center.
  • Lead a weekly discipleship group with girls from the orphanage Fundaniños.
  • Assisted three mission teams with their ministry here.
  • Attended the CAFO (Christian Alliance for Orphans) Summit to learn about how to better serve orphaned and vulnerable children.
  • Taught over 60 woodworking and engineering classes to students in our workshop at the orphanage Fundaniños.
  • Sharie gave weekly culinary arts classes to 18 students at the orphanage Fundaniños, focusing on teaching them how to prepare dishes for themselves that are nutritious, delicious and affordable.
  • Kept in contact with many of our former students from the orphanage who have aged out, providing them with council, prayer and making sure that they know they are loved.
  • Had the teenagers from the orphanage Fundaninos do a VBS for the children at our community center.

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empowering women through woodworking

Empowering women thorough woodworking

Why do you teach girls carpentry? Are there any jobs for women carpenters in Guatemala? Is there a market for the things you are making? Are they capable of doing this on their own? What happens one day if you are gone?

Many people are surprised when they learn that vocational training programs, which include information technology, woodworking, pre-engineering and culinary arts, places an emphasis on having girls in our woodworking class. So I thought I would take some time to explain what we teach and why.First of all, we don’t teach carpentry. Carpentry is building houses, framing and decking. Little of which would apply to our students here as the materials used in the construction of houses in most developing countries is cinder block and cement.

Second, what we teach is woodworking, the art of working with wood, understanding it, designing with it, and working through the creation process to produce a product.

Third, what we do is as much about the process as the product. For children who are orphaned, have been abused, or experienced profound childhood trauma, lack of self-esteem is especially common. Fear is one of the root causes of a lack of self-esteem, fear of failure, fear of the ability to do, to accomplish, or to even try. They often believe that there is something innately wrong with themselves. When they make mistakes, they can feel stupid or insufficient and worry what others will think of them. This only serves to reinforce their own feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, undeserving or unlovable.

We have seen our program help to overcome those things. The pen they make is more than a pen, it’s a healing process, a process they control, a process they own, a process that produces something people value.

When someone comes in and sees a 14 year old girl working on a lathe, tearing into a piece of wood to turn it from a square block, to a beautiful pen or bracelet, when they see them using a machine that they themselves don’t know how to use, it elevates them. When that girl produces a quality product, one that people see value in, and are willing to purchase, they start to see value in themselves. All of those give a boost to their soul, raise their spirit, and, little by little, help build their self-esteem.

Fourth, work ethic, it’s not just about doing a job, it’s about doing it well. We believe that the work we do, can, in and of itself, be worship to God. We want the works of our hands to be acceptable in God’s sight. We want whatever we do to be done for Him, for His glory, and to honor Him. In our workshop we focus on quality of the work and the pursuit of excellence. If something is not the best possible quality, we don’t sell it. By raising the bar and expecting quality work from the students we empower them to do it, and they do.

Fifth, confidence, though they may not make pens, bracelets or Christmas ornaments for the rest of their life, they have learned that they can learn. They have learned to use power tools, lathes, miter saws, sanders and a cnc shopbot router. We have opened their minds to a bigger, greater world of possibilities then they ever knew was possible. We have shown them that if they can learn this, they can learn so much more.

Sixth, business skills, in our program they learn what it is to run your own micro-business. They learn about costing, sales, materials and more. They get to earn their own money, spend some on what they want while saving the rest of it in their bank account. They learn about banking. It’s hard to teach someone the value of money and how to manage it, if they don’t have any money to manage. The value of this in their life cannot be understated and it is something that few children in orphanages are able to experience.

Seventh, relationships, working with them in the shop gives us the opportunity to build relationships with them, to love and care for them on a consistent basis as the years go by. Yes, as missionaries our primary calling is to make disciples of all nations, but being obedient to our Biblical calling to serve the orphaned and vulnerable requires a holistic process that meets both their spiritual and physical life. It requires ministering to their soul to prepare them to lead Godly lives, and meeting the needs of their mind and body to prepare them to live a productive life that utilizes the gifts and talents that God has given them.
So, yes it’s about making pens, but it’s about so much more than just making pens.

It’s about empowering girls who live in a society dominated by machismo. It’s about showing them what they are capable of. It’s about helping them realize their full potential. It’s about showing them that they have value, not just as a wife or mother but as smart intelligent human beings who can think, dream, design, produce and create value. It’s a step in helping them understand that they are the daughters of God.

It might not be the most traditional way of teaching these things, but we have found that it works.

Adoption and the Cross

martiny easter photo 2017
That is the whole story of redemption. Starting in the beginning, in the garden. The universe was meant to be our home, it was created as the place where the image bearers of God would rule and serve under their Father. It was all to be ours. Yet, through primeval insurrection in the garden, our inheritance was lost, turning the universe into an orphanage. Heirs we were no more, sin had taken root, turned away from home and into the captivity of a serpent who held the cosmos in thrall.

The whole universe had become an orphanage.

There we were, orphaned. Orphaned, until Christ came to redeem us. Redeem us, yes, but what does that mean? And how does it apply to adoption and the cross?

As used by the Apostle Paul, to redeem means “to buy out”. Specifically in relation to the purchasing of a slaves freedom. That in scripture, we find it applied to Christ’s death on the cross, is significant. Romans 3:24 speaks of the redemption that is found through Christ Jesus. Christ bought us, restored us, redeemed us and gave us a path away from the life of an orphan, forever changed into one of an adopted son.

Just as a child cannot, of his own free will, be set free from the orphanage that holds him, neither can we, of our own free will, be set free of the sins which do so easily beset us. Something must happen, someone, some greater power must act, to liberate us from our current state of orphanhood and grant us permission to become a member of a family.

That brings us to the cross. We simply cannot consider the adoption scripture speaks of, as children of God, without turning to the cross. When Jesus is nailed to this Roman torture device, he bears the full weight of the curse of an orphaned creation. The apostle Paul is able to speak of us receiving adoption as sons only because Jesus took upon himself that curse, which was our separation from God. In removing it we can now find redemption, the door is opened for us to be adopted as sons of God and our inheritance is sealed by the Holy Spirit.  (Ephesians 1)

“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree” (Galatians 3:13).

When you truly understand adoption, you truly understand the cross, and when you truly understand the cross you truly understand adoption. Understanding of the one leads to better understanding of the other.

As we celebrate our Christs resurrection on this glorious day and our adoption into Gods family, let us also remember those here on this earth, so in need of both a spiritual and physical family and ask ourselves if we are not called to meet it in some way?

As our father has loved us, so let us love others.

Happy Easter from Tim, Sharie, Julia, Audrey, Vanessa, Jessica, Alex and Alison Martiny.

Fundaninos students serving

Teaching others to teach others.


The greatest gift any teacher can have is not just for his students to understand and learn what he is teaching, but for them to turn around and share that knowledge with others.

We were blessed to see that happen last month.

Over the eight years that we have served at the orphanage Fundañinos, a primary focus of our ministry has been to impart the truth, knowledge, and understanding of scripture to the children. Through Bible classes, devotionals, small groups, summer camps, and VBS’s we have done this time and time again. Christ tells us in Matthew 5:19 that if you want greatness in the Kingdom of God, it comes from both practicing and teaching His commandments.

In praying and looking for an opportunity for the teenagers at the home to serve others, we decided to open the door for them to not just be involved, but to lead a service project at our community center in Colonia Santa Fe.

Sharie took some time to plan the program and explained to them how the “VBS” would work and divide the responsibilities between the youth. Our theme this year has been Psalm 23, and knowing God as our good shepherd. After that it was completely up to them to learn the content, prepare the material, organize the activities and lead the program for 33 second and third graders that participate in our program in Colonia Santa Fe.

For kids living in an orphanage, life can often be somewhat isolated. Most of them live, play, go to school, and interact almost entirely with the other children at the orphanage. Merely engaging with kids from another environment is sometimes awkward. Asking them to step outside of their comfort zone to lead a class, hold a mic, explain verses, and organize games was a big, but much needed, step forward.

Needless to say, they did amazing! While many of them were a little shy at first, as the program moved on, their confidence built. Each of them had learned their part of the class correctly. No one got stage fright or refused to participate and many of them demonstrated assurance and boldness as they engaged with the children. In truth they did a wonderful job.

It is one thing to be taught God’s word, it is quite another to teach it. There is something about explaining something we have learned to others that helps to reinforce it in our own minds.

Surgical residency programs often utilize the philosophy of “See one, Do one, Teach one”, and we have found this to be an effective methodology in our work as well.

The part that I loved the most and what really touched me, was seeing the students help the little kids with their crafts. Assisting with cutting, coloring, the lending of their artistic talent, the willingness to get involved as the small children came up to them for help, and watching them make friends, smile and laugh with children they had only just met, filled me with joy.

Observing 2 Timothy 2:2, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” came to life before our eyes and gave me hope and faith that as long as the work we are doing is grounded in scripture, based on Godly  principles, and taught to faithful men, and women, it will carry on beyond the class or Bible study we are teaching today.

 

timothy martiny, julia martiny

Today Julia, my oldest daughter turned 18

timothy martiny, julia martinyThey say time files, and I guess it does, I can remember like yesterday the day she was born. I remember holding her in my arms for the first time, before she was rushed off to an incubator for 10 days due to complications.

I can remember the love I felt in my heart looking at her, so tiny, yet so perfectly made. I can remember thinking that I wanted to give her the best I could, that she would never lack for anything, that all her needs and wants would be met.

I was 17, newly married, and had spent a large portion of my childhood institutionalized. From a young age I was required to work to support my family. I knew how tough life could be. We were 11 siblings, plus several step-siblings with us on and off over the years, we had food and clothes, but not much more. I still remember buying my first pair of new shoes when I was 15, right before I left home. They were LA Gear and cost $9.99 at Kmart. I was so proud of them and wore them till the soles wore out. My education was sparse and I was ill equipped for life.

Needless to say, I didn’t have much in my childhood. So, as a young father, I wanted her to have everything that I hadn’t had, and was willing to do whatever it took to give it to her. I worked long hours to provide for my wife and daughter. Getting up at 5 am to work 12 hours and then rushing home to spend the with my baby was worth it. No job was beneath me, not even digging ditches in the sewer. While I gave her love, played with her often and read her Bible stories every night. I was practically a kid myself, and trying to figure it all out.

I remember her first birthday party, it was a windy day at Lafreniere Park in Louisiana. We had a barbecue, invited all our friends, and spent way too much money on Fisher Price “Little People” toys. Thankfully they ended up being used by her 5 siblings that were to come.

We went all out. Looking back, I don’t think that there was anything wrong that, but it was more that I didn’t know myself what it was that really mattered in my child’s life.

Things did not turn out the way I had planned it. I went from installing doors for home depot, to a job in tech support, to taking my family to live in Guatemala for, what I thought, was going to be three months of volunteer work.

She was three years and seven months old when we boarded the flight to Guatemala that would change our lives forever. Going to help some missionaries we knew for short time, turned into a life of service to orphaned, vulnerable and disabled children.

There is something about seeing others in dire need that can fundamentally rewire the way we prioritize our life. I still wanted the best for my daughter, but as time went on, I was no longer convinced that what I thought was the best for her, was really the best for her.

Now that I have spent over half my live raising kids, I’ve come to the conclusion that parents have four fundamental obligations to their children:

  1. Keep them safe
  2. Provide for their needs
  3. Make them feel loved
  4. Prepare them for life.

I believe most parents intuitively understand and work towards meeting them. Yet how things play out, based on our culture, beliefs, resources, and how we were raised, varies.

The more time I spent working with children in orphanages, who were lacking in many of these things, the more time I spent thinking and praying about what it actually took to meet those needs. As I reflected on how to provide these things to those I served, it changed the ways I thought about meeting them for my own children.

I knew that I didn’t want her to be raised how I was raised. Besides having left home at such a young age, I hadn’t had a solid education, and didn’t know what a healthy relationship with ones parents looked like.

As time went on, my philosophy of how to meet the fundamental obligations to my children evolved.

Keeping them safe looked different in a less developed country like Guatemala, than it did in the U.S. She didn’t grow up in a perfect suburban neighborhood, she grew up spending time with me visiting the places I worked, driving across Mexico to the U.S. and back every few years, and often times, just being in my company. The safety came from being with a dad who was always alert and looking out for her, yet at the same time exposing her to new and wonderful places as she served alongside me.

Providing for her needs changed as well. There is something about seeing others with so so much less than us that can impact what we think we need. Many of the things we classify as needs, are actually just wants. Instead of mountains of new toys  every birthday, I started making presents for my children, from wooden flower planters with their name carved into it, to refurbishing and rebuilding old bicycles, we met their needs and many of their wants, in, yet tried to demonstrate a clear difference between the two.

Making them feel loved. My efforts turned from loving them with things, to loving them with time. For most of their childhood, I would come home from work and take them to park every single day. We played in forests and fields and spent time together. I can’t say that I have always succeeded in loving them perfectly in every way, God knows I have my failings, yet I believe that our focus on spending time and resources on experiences with my children, rather than on things, has paid off.

Preparing them for life. This is where some people might disagree with me. How could I throw away the “lottery of birth” my children had been given by being American citizens. The opportunity to grow up, live, attend college and find a career in what is probably one of the safest, richest countries in the world, with limitless options at their disposal. In exchange for a life in a largely impoverished country, where crime and violence are a daily companion, where they don’t have the same fast track educational prospects, live away from their relatives, and possibly suffer from the innate challenges that come from their parents being missionaries?

It’s something that I have given a lot of thought to and grappled with, and I don’t know that I have a perfect answer for it. I may not have given her the typical things that are so highly valued by most people. But I have given her something more.

I have exposed her to the world, not just to her country. I am proudly American, yet the world is bigger than my home country. By raising her in Guatemala, I have shown her the greater scope of humanity, beyond one race or culture. She speaks a second language, and easily engages people from different walks of life. Her education, while a mix of home school and local schools, has been so much more than book learning. It has been the places we have worked where she has served alongside us and developed heart of compassion. From time spent volunteering at church, to willingly helping with projects in our ministry, to assisting her younger siblings, I believe that service has become part of her DNA. She may not have had access to AP classes and been able to get college credits while in high school, but she has constantly been faced with learning opportunities and real world problem solving challenges that have constantly pushed her outside her comfort zone, and, of utmost importance, she has learned to learn.

She has had wonderful opportunities to see God to amazing things. While stuck at the border a few years ago facing a problem with immigration’s, she told my wife “I wasn’t worried, because Daddy always gets us through”. While I was encouraged and touched that she had such confidence in me, I could only point her to God as I knew it was Him who had saved us time and time again in our travels. From our car breaking down in the middle of nowhere in Mexico to dealing with corrupt cops and seemingly impossible situations in foreign countries. She had seen God do miracles us and for her and it had grown her faith.

Most importantly however, I have seen her develop her own personal relationship with God, from making the decision to be baptized, to aligning her activities, friendships and lifestyle with what has become, not just ours, but her belief system and her own personal convictions. I could not be more proud of her. Her faith is her own, and I think that is her true preparation for life.

More than anything I could have done to prepare, I gave her a path to God, where she could develop her own faith, and she did. Could I have done that back home? Certainly! Yet seeing God’s word come to life, when you desperately need it and there is no other solution, is an incredibly valuable gift to give to your children.

Did I do a perfect job raising my children? No. Would l do things differently if I was 17 and starting out again? Perhaps! The only thing I know I did right in raising my children is that in my desire to do it “right” led me to God, His word and His principals.

In truth, when I look at her, at the amazing woman she has become, despite all my faults and failings as a father, I don’t know that I would change a thing.

As she finishes school this year and begins to make her own way in the world. I know that while her life may not always be easy, she has the tools, character and connection with God to make to make the most of the life she has been given.

She is more than I could have hoped for, but everything I prayed for.

Julia Taylor Martiny, I love you and am so proud of you.

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