For Allen and JoAnn Martin, mission work was a calling. Allen was only 15-years-old and living in a non-Christian home when he came to know the Lord. Less than a year later, at the age of 16 he had a vision that called him to mission work. Joann had come to the Lord when she was only 9-years-old, but received the call to missionary work, much later at 19 after hearing a missionary speak for the first time.
After graduating from college, Allen from Vanguard University, with a BA in Missions/Theology and JoAnn with a business degree from College of the Sequoias, the couple became associate/youth pastors at Gardena Valley Assemblies of God and two years later in October 1983, the couple landed at Valley Gospel Chapel in Anza where they pastored until Dec. 31, 1988.
The couple began to realize their dream of becoming missionaries Jan. 1, 1989, when they first went into the mission field. Before they left to serve in Ecuador, they had to learn to speak Spanish, so they went to Costa Rica for 16 months where they learned the language.
From there, the couple went to the Andes Mountains in Ecuador. Arriving in January 1992, they began their work with the Quichua Indians. During their more than 20 years there, they have born witness to God’s workings in the form of seeing a Bible School with various extensions, including one in the Amazon Jungle and another in the Galapagos Islands established. Allen and JoAnne have also seen the establishment of more than 35 Quichua Indian churches led by students of the Bible School, and Indian District – serving all Indian tribes of Ecuador – and a School of Music to train up music ministers and worship leaders.
When asked about the hardest thing they have been through in the mission field, the Martins recalled a story in 1992, the day after their daughter turned 10.
While in Ecuador, their family went through a very dangerous experience. There was extreme distress and rebellion going on in the country because the Quichua people (modern day Incas) were bought and sold with the land in 1964. They had been freed but still treated like second class citizens.
The Martin family had been bunkering down because of the unrest but was running out of food. They needed to make an hourlong trip to the closest market. They were driving on a mountainside road and then suddenly, the road was gone. The small road had been destroyed an explosion to block the main transportation route. Their vehicle flipped and both daughters were thrown out of the vehicle. It took two days to get to a hospital that could treat them. Allen had broken his back and was placed in a body cast for four months and the girls sustained traumatic injuries, but they praised God for keeping them alive and healing their wounds.
The family has a heart for the Quichua people and gained their trust. The Martins worked with the Quichua Indians and helped open a beautiful three story church in Coca.
Now they are mentoring the leaders of Latin America in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, USA and Venezuela thru their ministry.
“Love compels us to go, you have friends, relatives and neighbors that all need Jesus, live a godly walk that speaks for itself,” Allen said. “God can do great things through a country boy.”
Allen now serves as a district superintendent, president of a bible college and a friend. He quoted John 15:15 during their visit to Anza.
“I no longer call you servant but I call you friend… God has a plan for our lives, we just tend to short sell Him,” he said.
The Martin family will be heading back to the mission field this coming February when they will be arriving in Lima Peru.