March 2023 OTJ
On the Journey

Remembering Herbert

Growing up, I attended a tiny Baptist church in southern Illinois. When I was a teenager, my church participated in a world missions conference. Mr. Herbert Martin was assigned to my church.

I remember it vividly for several reasons. Mr. Martin was the first missionary I ever met. He directed the work of the Carver Baptist Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was not only the first missionary I ever met but also the first African American man to ever enter the doors of my church. And he was a missionary! It’s hard to explain how formative that experience was in my life to help me develop spiritually toward a missions lifestyle.

When I was a child, Mr. Martin helped me understand the claim of the gospel is for all people. Your age does not matter, nor does your race, your emotional state, your physical condition, your socioeconomic status, or your sinful condition. The gospel is for all people. That made an impression on me.

Mr. Martin helped me understand that when you do something for the Lord, you want to give Him your very best. I remember Mr. Martin said that when he took children and youth to a nearby church for an activity, they would leave the last hour to clean because they always wanted to leave a place better than they found it. That left an impression on me. Missions is about giving our very best.

God used an African American missionary from the inner city traveling 650 miles to a tiny rural congregation of 25 Anglos to seal my heart for missions. When it came time for me to be appointed as a North American missionary, I have no doubt it was because of God’s call, but it was also because of the influence of people like missionary Herbert Martin.

The Week of Prayer for North American Missions is annually observed by Southern Baptist Convention churches to pray for missionaries, their ministries, and their families. How grateful we are for people like Herbert who heard God’s call and responded to go where He led.

Pray faithfully for our missionaries, and give generously to support their work through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering.


As You are with our North American Mission Board missionaries, bless them with strength and energy and resilience. Remind them they are loved and cherished by You. Help us do our part to make You known among all people.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Sandy Wisdom-Martin serves as the executive director/treasurer for national WMU.

Image by Igor Ovsyannykov from Pixabay