Meet the Martins in Las Vegas

Cynthia, Alicia, Tom Martin

In 2006, Tom and Cynthia Martin faced a difficult decision. They had been serving as International Mission Board missionaries in South America for 17 years, but needed to return to the United States because of medical issues. Cynthia says it was an intensely emotional time, and she grieved that she would no longer be on the front lines of cross-cultural ministry. “But God promised me that He wasn’t through with me,” says Cynthia.

And indeed He wasn’t! In 2008, Tom, Cynthia, and their daughter, Alicia, volunteered with a local refugee resettlement agency. Cynthia recounts how God showed her through that experience that, “although the government brings refugees into the US, and the resettlement agencies are responsible for resettling them, really it is the responsibility of the body of Christ to take care of them.”

Soon Cynthia and Tom were heavily involved in the founding of Safely Home Refugee Ministry in Las Vegas, which Cynthia now leads. This ministry connects the body of Christ to refugees, and builds relationships to help them with physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. “It is living out the gospel by serving them in tangible ways,” shares Cynthia.

For instance, Cynthia might be taking a refugee to the doctor, explaining how to take medication, reading a note from the teacher and explaining to the parent what it means, eating lots of rice and goat, sitting on the floor playing with children, teaching English in a classroom, teaching a Citizenship/English class for senior adult refugees in preparation for their taking the naturalization exam, reading and explaining mail, helping someone fill out a job application or practice a job interview, telling a Bible story, praying with someone, helping someone make a phone call or listen to a voice mail, being in the delivery room and being able to pray over a newborn, attending a refugee event or celebration, guiding a church group to host a baby shower for a new refugee, connecting a church group with a new refugee family, teaching new volunteers what it’s like being a refugee, or even staying in the hospital 24/7 with a young woman facing brain surgery who speaks little English. Talk about the front lines of cross-cultural ministry!

What Cynthia loves most about her work is time spent with people who have learned so much about life by almost losing it. “Refugees are the most resilient people. They arrive in shock . . . but rarely do they give up,” says Cynthia. “I love to tell them stories about refugees in the Bible and see the glimmer of hope in their eyes when they realize that God is the God Who Sees and the God Who Provides.”  She loves to see them learn to trust Jesus, and be empowered by learning English.

Tom serves as pastor of Tropicana Christian Fellowship in Las Vegas, which is the only English-speaking Christian church for over 27,000 people within a 1-mile radius of the church. There are 5 nationalities represented within the church. Tom builds relationships with the refugee men as he helps them integrate into American culture. Tom and Cynthia also helped start a Nepali-speaking church for Bhutanese refugees and Tom continues to lead them one night a week as well as mentor the pastor of that church. 

When asked about the witnessing methods she uses, Cynthia responded, “At every opportunity I say something about how good God is.  Most of the refugees I work with do not understand a personal God, so when I talk about God as if He is real in my life and is good, then it gets their attention.  Once I have built the relationship to a point where I know it is ‘right’ for that person, I begin to speak of Jesus as God. I use Bible stories to teach about Jesus and how he IS God.”

Tom and Cynthia’s belief is that God is at work around the world in people’s lives. They see that if a refugee comes to Safely Home, and asks for help, that it is a sign that God is already at work in that person’s life. Safely Home provides extra food, diapers, furniture, school supplies, medicine, clothes, etc. Providing them with necessities begins a relationship. “We can love them with the love of Jesus,” shares Cynthia.

Join us in praying for the Martin family. Pray for Cynthia, that God would give her wisdom, direction, discernment, and endurance. Pray for the Bhutanese refugee community in Las Vegas. Pray that the Holy Spirit would move through every home, giving knowledge and understanding of Jesus. Pray that God would raise up leadership in the 2 churches. Pray that members of these churches would have the courage to cross all cultural barriers to reach their communities with the gospel. Lastly, pray for the Martin family, and that God would provide a way for sons, Kyle and Joel, with their families, to be together with the Las Vegas Martins—just for a week.

And here are verses to remember. This Scripture passage, Isaiah 41:9–10, is one of Cynthia’s favorites: “You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, and called from its farthest regions, and said to you, ‘You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand." (NKJV1)

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1Scripture quotations marked (NKJV) are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

By Tessa Harvill, Preschool Team intern

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