LAHAINA - Chris Martin is a man that walks with that glow of confidence and kindness that manifests the inner peace of religious leaders everywhere. As the minister at Lahaina Baptist Church for the last ten years, he blended well with the grassroots warmth of the West Side community.
Now, he is taking his devotion to the Lord to another level. As of Jan. 1, 2014, Pastor Martin assumed the position of executive director/treasurer of the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention and will now oversee churches throughout Hawaii and across the region to Japan, Samoa, Guam, Saipan, Okinawa and Korea.
"It's a huge territory, but I'll try my best to facilitate in any way that I can, particularly in support and resourcing the 151 (Baptist) churches in Hawaii," he said last week.
From left, Wendy, Taylor, Chris and Zachary Martin are part of the Lahaina Baptist Church ‘ohana. Chris served as pastor there for ten years.
Martin was raised in the Baptist Church in Louisiana, where he grew up. That religious embrace continued as he earned a degree in education from the University of Louisiana-Monroe and culminated in earning a Minister of Divinity Degree from the Baptist Theological Seminary in New Orleans.
Throughout those years of Christian study, Martin listened carefully to God's calling, making life-changing decisions based on those communications. This led to his ten-year tenure in Lahaina and now to the new position, where he and his wife of 22 years, Wendy, will be based in Honolulu.
"It was a big step to move the family (Wendy and children Taylor and Zachary) here to Maui from where we were in Georgia at the time," said Martin. "But I heard God's calling, and of course, the people here were so friendly and embracing in welcoming us, that we felt comfortable with the change."
Now, the Lord is showing the way again, and Chris is following the pathway to a higher calling - but with definite mixed emotions.
"The director retired in December, and I realized that I was well-suited and experienced enough to take the new position. We're excited about the change, and I think I can keep building relationships with the different islands and cultures for a positive future. But we're going to keep our membership here in the Lahaina Baptist Church, because we are finding it hard to step completely away from this community," he said.
"Our hearts will always be in Lahaina and this phenomenal community, the businesses, schools, churches, sports programs - every area. It is a blessing to be here, and we are honored and proud to be a part of it. We will miss you all."
Martin also served as a police chaplain here, worked with Volunteer Organization Assistance in Disaster (VOAD), and served with the Young Life youth guidance organization.