The man I call Dad
By E. Scott Martin
In spite of only being exposed
to liberal Judaism and liberal Christianity, I always had a God-consciousness
as a little boy. This wasn’t just a coping mechanism for a devastating
childhood; it was God’s grace reaching out to a child to accomplish
His plan. I was born to a single mother; the only male figure in my life,
my grandfather, committed suicide when I was 5. My mother battled cancer throughout
my childhood, and when I was 7 she died. I was left to live with my grandmother
in a small home in the center of Phoenix, Ariz., in near-poverty.
I greatly desired a father figure,
someone I could call Dad. I had all the passions of a boy growing up —
playing ball, fishing, building a tree fort — but no one to show me
how. My grandmother loved me and wished she could help me more, but she didn’t
know how to handle an active 7-year-old boy. I would roam the streets of Phoenix
playing with my friends and looking for adventure. Even though my future looked
bleak during that time and no one had ever shared the truth of Jesus with
me, I still had an awareness of God’s presence and plan for my life.
The Martin family moved into Phoenix
not too far from my house. They knew my family and would come to visit my
grandmother and me. I would look in amazement at Leroy Martin. He was tall,
strong, knew everything and could make anything (at least in my eyes then).
The Martins began to invite me over to their home. Soon I found myself hanging
out there as much as possible with Leroy, Dena and their daughters Debbie,
Denise and DeAnn. I was so attracted to a family unit. I saw the love they
had for each other and I longed for it.
They began to tell
me about Jesus and His love and plan for my life. They invited
me to their church, Central Assembly of God on 9th Street and
Oak. I still remember the first day I visited. What a strange
experience! But I knew everything I had seen and heard was the
truth. I was 8 years old, very impressionable, but able to understand
the gospel. The people in the church loved me, and a short time
following my visit I accepted Jesus as my Lord.
Shortly after this time I found
myself constantly at the Martins’ home. They would take
me on weekends to “Mamo and Papo” Martin’s home,
the ranch where Leroy had grown up. I was overwhelmed! The entire
Martin family would gather on these weekends — uncles and
aunts and cousins. It was something I had never experienced before.
They would go quail hunting and take me along. It was a dream
come true! Everyone treated me well and loved me.
I was completely stricken by Leroy
Martin. He was everything I pictured a man and a dad to be. At the age of
9, to my great surprise, Leroy asked me if I wanted to move in with them —
to become part of the Martin family. “Oh yes,” I said. I would
have a man to call Dad.
I was too young to understand and
appreciate the ramifications this move would have on my life and the life
of the Martins. They took me in under great threats from my grandmother, but
they knew this was God’s will.
I was fully accepted into the family,
an equal member in all things. We moved from Phoenix to Florence, a small
rural Arizona town. It was there that I would be developed and raised to manhood.
My dad taught me values. I followed
him everywhere he went at every possible moment. He never tired of having
me tag along even if it cost him time and money. He taught me how to work
and use tools, how to hunt and fish, how to drive and operate a tractor, how
to give and fulfill my responsibility to our church. He taught me the value
of education. But there was one thing he didn’t just teach me —
he showed me. My dad showed me Jesus.
I know Jesus has saved me from
my sins, but He used Leroy Martin — the man I call Dad — to save
my life here on earth. The Martin family never adopted me; I just moved in.
At the age of 16 I legally changed my name to Martin. I am a joint heir to
everything the Martins possess. I am loved by all of them and am seen as nothing
less than a true family member.
The man I call Dad has financed
my education, my vehicles, my home, and most importantly the ministry and
call of God on my life. And because of that, thousands of people around the
globe have come to know Jesus. Leroy Martin became my dad by choice, not obligation.
I am eternally grateful to him for making that choice and to the Lord for
putting him in my life. He’s tall, strong, knows everything and can
make anything (at least in my eyes today).
The world needs more men like the
man I call Dad.
Scott Martin is a representative for National Chi Alpha Student
Missions & Evangelism.
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