Open to the call
My name is Dawn Martin. I am a wife of 33 years, married to Timothy Martin. We have three amazing, powerful kids and I’m going to tell you a couple of little stories of different places the Lord’s led us through and encounters that happened there.
My two oldest brothers and my oldest sister all had their first babies within 10 days of each other. We were ranchers, so they all either lived on the ranch or close to the ranch. They were there all the time. I was the built in babysitter. I took them to vacation Bible school. I took them to church. We did plays, we sang songs, I would have them up performing songs for the Lord. I think that stirred something in me. I always talked to Jesus. I mean, for as long as I can remember, He was always there as my companion. But I think the call was always to make room for the next generation, that my ceiling would be their floor, always letting them stand on that ceiling.
So [I was in] Jacksonville, Florida working. I got invited to work with the youth group there. I ended up becoming the associate youth pastor and I had the opportunity to lead these two gang members to the Lord, which was so cool. These two boys, their parents had given up on them, people had given up on them, and they were interested in some of the girls in my, our youth group. So I got a chance to lead them to the Lord. They trusted me, even to the point like a month after they accepted the Lord, I got a call at three o’clock in the morning. Tim answers the phone and he goes, “It’s for you.” You know, we didn’t have cell phones back then. I picked up the phone and I was like, “What’s up guys?” So they go, “Well, we just stole a car. What should we do?” And I was like, “Take it back.” – So they took the car back. – I said, “If you end up in jail, call me in the morning.” And they were like, okay. So I prayed for them and nothing ever happened and they continued on in the youth group.
It’s little moments of redemption like that, you know. They were convicted by the Holy Spirit that what they had done was wrong, even though they had done it before when they were in a gang. They were like, this time it just doesn’t feel right and we don’t know what to do with this feeling. So they called me, What do we do with this feeling?
So I just asked them some questions. “What do you think you should do?” They were like, “Well, get out, leave the car.” And I’m like, “We probably take it back,” you know. They were like, “Well, we’re not even sure where it came from…” Because it was their gang that was trying to suck them back into the gang and stolen the car. They’d gotten in it and then they (the gang) got out and left them with the stolen car, trying to trap them back into the gang. So it was kind of a ploy thing and I said, you know, we just kind of walked through it. But it was, they were convicted, and they didn’t know what to do with the conviction. I didn’t judge them. I’m like, try to fix it and we’ll just pray that God will cover what happened because that’s not who you are anymore. That’s not who you are.
The Kingdom of Heaven, we enter the Kingdom as a child. And when we invite the children into those places of encounter, it’s amazing. It’s amazing what God will do. I love to prophesy over people, especially teenagers. Because there’s so many lies. There’s like this war going on for them all the time. We were living in a not great apartment complex and there was a pretty active gang. To the point where you would walk down the sidewalk, and they would…There was the main leader and his girlfriend, and there was always a big group of them behind and they harassed everybody. So we’re walking down the sidewalk and I’ve got my kids behind me and we’re gonna go to the pool. They’re walking towards me, expecting me to move and I just felt the Lord’s love wash over me for this leader and his girlfriend. And I’m just, I’m staying there and I’m locked in. I’m just wrecked with love for these two. So I walked up and I said, “Sometimes God talks to me about people. Can I share with you?” And they were dumbfounded and just had the look like, you’re not impacting me and I’m not gonna let you impact me.
Well, I started prophesying over him. That very much he was a leader and his father had not released that gift and value into him, but that he had a Father in heaven that loved him and valued him. That God was calling him to lead people towards Him and not away from Him. But he had to choose. Where he was leading right now was gonna lead to destruction. But there was another way that he could follow. If he would follow the Lord, that would lead to life and it would lead all those behind him to life. And you could just see his eyes get really glassy. Then I start prophesying over her about her value, that she didn’t love herself. She didn’t love the way she looked, the way she, who she was, and I was just releasing that value of the beauty that was within her, and how important she was. And I remember at the very end, I looked at him and I said, and if you don’t value her, she needs to leave you, because she is valuable, and needs to be treated that way. She just begins to sob and I just told them that I loved them, and that the Lord loved them. Then the whole sea of gang parted, we walked through. From that point on, anytime they saw us, they all just moved off. They, they, they just made room for us. And they never approached us, never harassed us, never harassed my kids again. We just had this bubble around us. But I just got to speak life into them and love. They wouldn’t let me get close to them again. But there was a moment that God released identity to them. That was so powerful.
Another really amazing moment – I was doing a vacation Bible school and it was called Superhero Training Camp. And it was training kids to walk in the supernatural. As I was praying through the week, and just asking the Lord to show up and encounter these kids, I saw all of the kids like running in a circle around the sanctuary. Just running and crying, “Freedom. Freedom.” So I just had this vision of this and I was like, “Okay, God, well, if You want to make this happen, then I give You, I’m gonna make space for You to show up.” So that night, we were singing the song Freedom and, and I’m like, I just gave y’all freedom to do what you need to do. So some of the teens started running and the kids started running, and they were all running and singing and shouting and running and singing and shouting. There was an incredible healing that happened in the midst of that. There was a little girl that had been diagnosed with chronic depression. – They were like, she’s, it’s going to be that way for the rest of her life. And they go, we’ve tried everything. They’d been to specialists, everything for this little girl. – And she began to laugh and she laughed, and she ran, and that depression was broken. It was gone. We saw a lot of healings that week. Just kids praying for people.
I remember at the end of the week, a lady comes up to me. I didn’t know her. She didn’t go to our church. She said, “I want to thank you. You’ve changed my family.” And she had a gift for me. I was like, okay…and she said, “We believe the Bible. We believe everything in the Bible. We believe God heals. But we have never prayed for healing and my kids came home and my husband was really sick. They said, ‘Well, we just need to lay hands on him and Jesus will heal him.’ And they laid hands on my husband and he was healed. We are forever changed.’ She was crying and she was like, “I just I am so grieved that I taught them about Jesus, but now they know Him as a friend.” I love this about kids, and I think people forget this about children, that they hear so easily. It doesn’t have to be a big somber, serious moment.
My daughter almost miscarried my grandson. They thought he was miscarried. My granddaughter was two at the time, and I actually have this on video as well. We’re talking and she’s like, “Grammy, there were wolves in my house last night, and they were trying to take the baby.” – My daughter had miscarried before and didn’t want to tell anybody that she was pregnant again out of fear. – And I said, “Well, what did you do?” And she says, “Well, Jesus came and He had Mickey Mouse wings on.” I was like, “Jesus had Mickey Mouse wings?” She was like, “Yes and He and I, we kicked those wolves in their head and they got out and they left that baby alone. And I was like, Okay! That baby’s okay. And she goes, “That baby’s okay.” So my daughter went back to the doctor. They told her the day before that it was miscarried, and they needed to set up an appointment for the follow up and they went back. They said, “Oh, there’s a heartbeat.” Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t God just…she was two and He let her be a part of contending for her little brother.
So just little moments of making room. Believing and listening to the stories that they’re hearing and not just the stories, but what they’re hearing from the Lord. Teaching them how to hear. growing them up and giving them opportunity and making it a safe place to fail. If it’s not a safe place to fail, then nobody will take a risk. So always making it a safe place to fail. That if you don’t fail, then you’ll never succeed. My testimony has been a big part of finding a way into hearts that were hardened, or to show people that God can work through anything! Through becoming an unwed mother and seeing God show up in the cracks, and the broken places over and over again.
I remember when I was at a huge High School in Cobb County. I’m giving my testimony about how, you know, I got pregnant. I had people offer to abort the baby. They were gonna pay for the abortion. I had a couple of proposals as well, of marriage from friends. Like, “oh, we’ll just raise it together.” And you know, I was like, No, no, no, neither of those are options. There was a girl that day that had an abortion scheduled after school that day. And I didn’t know this till about five or six years later. We had moved back to Tyler. I got invited…One of the girls in my youth group was getting married. She invites me to be a part of the wedding. I go back to Atlanta, Georgia, we’re at the rehearsal dinner, I’m sitting at this table with all these young adults and couples. Tim and I are there and they’re like, “Oh, how do you know Cheryl?” I was like, “Well, I was her youth pastor when she was a teenager.” And one of the girls goes, “Oh my gosh!” and she grabs her husband’s hand and she’s like, “Oh my gosh, this is her. This is her. This is her.” So she starts digging through her purse, and I’m like, what’s going on? She pulls out a picture of a little boy and she goes, “This is my son and he’s alive today because of you.” She told me the story. She goes, “I had an abortion scheduled that afternoon. Because of your testimony, I didn’t abort him. Then later, I met my husband, and he adopted him. And he’s like, he’s the best thing that ever happened to us. I just want to thank you for being vulnerable with your testimony.”
I think that’s a big part of it. I was always open, even with those gang members. They heard my story first. They knew what I’d walked through. And the very thing that they thought disqualified them, is sometimes the very thing that qualifies us. It’s those broken places that God’s like, “I can be really big in this place.”