WILLINGBORO, New Jersey (BRN) — “I am in tears,” muttered Reverend Charles Levi Martin.
“I had to tell them, ‘Listen guys, I’m a poor preacher…I see the need [and] I don’t have it, but I know who has it. God has it…God has it.’”
Born and raised in Liberia, Africa, Rev. Martin has remained connected with his native land throughout the years via ministry efforts. Most recently, he traveled to Liberia during the Easter season to preach at and celebrate the 200th year anniversary of Providence Baptist Church.
“We had a wonderful time; the church was packed for each service, and it was just great being there preaching the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” said Martin.
He continued: “And watching a church survive in this environment for 200 years…a church that stood as the very place where the founders of Liberia – in fact, one of them happened to have been a Baptist preacher from a plantation in Virginia – founded the nation. It was in this very church that the Declaration of Independence was signed.”
However, the anniversary celebration was not the only thing that pulled Martin back to his native land.
“The need is so great – it’s overwhelming – but if we can help someone, in some small way, it will make a difference. There is abject poverty in the country, most kids – families – go to bed hungry each night,” said Martin.
During his first trip to Liberia, Martin visited the Levi H. Martin Baptist School, which was a school built when his father was the president of the Liberian Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention.
“I really had no ties or connectivity with it [the school] and I got excited, because I had heard about it, but nobody has ever reached me. I had never been up to Nimba, since I was in the senior class at B.W. Harris in 1974.
“I went to every classroom and it was pathetic,” shared Martin, as he quickly learned that the needs of the country also trickled into its educational system.
“A thousand students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, I spoke with every class…and here you have a thousand students in a school without a cafeteria…there is no nursing station…I got into the computer lab and all the ceiling is messed up from rain…they have computers but no internet. So, I made a vow that I would come back.”
Since his first trip, Martin’s church, Unity Fellowship Baptist Church in Willingboro, New Jersey, has raised money to send bags of rice to four Baptist churches in Liberia, as well as collected computers for the school. Martin and the Willingboro community has also started a “Toys of Joy” initiative, which sends toys to the Providence Baptist Church in Liberia for children at Christmas time.
“I’m praying that hearts are moved. Persistence overcomes resistance, and I pray that we would be persistent in doing everything to resist what the enemy is trying to do,” said Martin, adding “That we will come and give life through Jesus Christ, that we will give an abundant life of health, of healing, and of salvation.”
During his most recent trip to Liberia, March 25 – April 10 of this year, Martin came face-to-face with, yet again, the devastating needs of his people.
After his final service on Easter Sunday, Martin was approached by four men from Coopers Farm in Monrovia.
“We sat right in the pulpit area and they said, ‘You need to come. You need to come and see what is going on.’ So, I listened.”
The Wednesday before he traveled back to the States, Martin made his way to Coopers Farm.
“I get there and they start a program of welcome, prayer, and singing. They’ve been there since 12 o’clock, it’s around five o’clock and you’ve got close to a thousand people there still.”
Martin continued: “When you look at their faces, their eyes are sad, they’re malnourished, they’re poor, you can tell they haven’t seen a doctor or a dentist, they’re in rags…and they’re looking at me like some Savior.”
The people of the Coopers Farm community showed Martin around, highlighting a school built and funded by a woman from Australia.
“They show me a school and they have this school because if they didn’t have it these children would be in the streets,” said Martin.
He went on to explain why it is so important for the children to have a place to go during the day.
“Rape is rampant in this country, there is little to no justice in this country, [and] police are not equipped to deal with the rampant crime and the vulnerability of the young girls and boys. So, this girl built this place off her own few dollars from Australia to keep them in school.”
Martin also shared that the teachers who commit their time to the school are paid merely fifty dollars a month, and are often not paid every month.
“I’m weeping for her, I’m weeping for them, I’m weeping for me because I’m overwhelmed, I don’t have the solution…[and] this is the situation not just there, but in most places in the country,” said Martin.
Referencing Matthew 25, Martin reflects on the condition of his people and his passion to meet their needs.
“Jesus says in Matthew 25, ‘I was hungry, you did not feed me, I was thirsty, you did not give me drink, I was naked you did not clothe me, I was sick and you did not come to see me, I was in prison, you did not visit me.’ And they ask, ‘When?’ He said, ‘in this you’ve done it unto the least of one of these my brethren, you’ve done it unto me,’” stated Martin.
“So, yes. I do have a great passion for my people, [and] I’m praying that we can find the way, in some small way, to get back into Liberia.”
For information on how you can get involved with the ministry work Rev. Martin is doing in Liberia, Africa, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit his Facebook page under “Charles Levi Martin.”
Listen to the podcast interview:
The “50 Stories of Transformation” series, told in honor of the Baptist Resource Network’s 50th anniversary, highlights the many ways God has moved throughout Pennsylvania, South Jersey and beyond. Your generous support of the Cooperative Program makes this ministry possible and fuels evangelism and outreach in our local churches and all over the world! Thank you!