Ponce, Puerto Rico
Victor Martinez is a poster boy of sorts. He's helping to set a pattern for
church planting for the North American Mission Board by focusing on
Martinez is a catalytic missionary, charged with helping encourage new
church plants across South Central Puerto Rico. To make this happen, Martinez
builds friendships with pastors and becomes a regular visitor in their homes.
The familiarity and trust allow Martinez to share both victories and struggles
in their lives and ministries.
His relational approach is a model for how both he and NAMB would like to
see church planting efforts explode on his island home.
"We have been trying to be mentors and not just teachers. Instead of
starting churches, I encourage the local church pastors and leaders to be
mentors, to raise church planters," said Martinez. "I am in the process of
trying to give the vision to a lot of the pastors in this area to see that,
even though they're poor and they don't have a lot of resources or a lot of
leadership, it is really their job to do this."
Martinez's wife, Virginia, serves with him in his native Puerto Rico.
Mentoring holds a strong place in Martinez's vocabulary. You could say he
has a conviction about the process. His own salvation experience came as the
result of a mentoring relationship he was in while a student at Mississippi
State University. He joined a small rural church whose members took
Over a two-year period Martinez adjusted his college schedule to meet weekly
with Broodmoor Baptist Church staff, allowing him to study through the entire
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth followed. There he
met his wife and began pastoring an inner-city work for fellow Hispanics,
giving him a foundation for the challenges of starting churches among people
with few material resources.
The Martinezes believed God was calling them to be missionaries to
Argentina, but an invitation came to serve as church planters in Puerto Rico.
They initially thought it would be a short-term assignment. But a year and a
half after starting the Church of Family Restoration in Juana Diaz, Martinez
was asked to take on the additional job of catalytic missionary for the entire
The church itself was considered a model for new churches. Women often take
the lead in many churches in Puerto Rico, Martinez said. Efforts such as
baseball games and an emphasis on worship in homes help raise up godly men as
"One of the wonderful fruits we've seen is just people being loved and
wanting their friends, wanting their neighbors, wanting their relatives to be
there and be a part of that," he said. "And that allows the perfect environment
for true discipleship."
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