I was born in Brooklyn, New York. My parents were a godly couple and served as leaders in their church. When I was 5 years old, we moved to New Jersey because my parents wanted to raise their children in a better neighborhood.
Although I was brought up in the church, I went through a rebellious stage in my teens and got caught up in crime and drugs. I started out just hanging on the corner with my friends. Always looking for the latest thing to get into, we were introduced to marijuana. It wasn’t long before we went from smoking marijuana to using stronger drugs.
I barely made it out of high school. After high school, I decided to go into the Navy, but I still had the same mindset of partying and getting high. After serving in the Navy, I was still lost. One day I distinctly heard the Lord say, “How long will you run from Me?”
Soon after, I attended my cousin Lolita’s wedding and I saw my cousin Eric who went to Teen Challenge (a Christian ministry) where his life was totally changed. I knew I also needed a change in my life, so I went to Pivot House Men’s Ministry, the induction center of Teen Challenge. It was there I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. At that time, I also received the call to ministry.
Upon finishing the program at Teen Challenge, I moved to Oklahoma to attend Mid-America Bible College. I met Estelle Harris (who is now my wife) at the school, which was jokingly but fittingly referred to as Mid-America “Bridal” College.
I began serving as the first youth pastor at Prayer of Faith World Outreach in Oklahoma, a church with a predominantly Caucasian congregation. Today, I laugh as I look back on those days serving with the church’s pastor. I taught him to sing soul and he taught me to sing country.
That was just one of many experiences throughout my ministry where I felt the Lord move me out of my comfort zone.
I believe God is always preparing us for the next place He wants to take us in ministry. For me, it was preparation for serving people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
From Oklahoma, we moved to pastor a congregation in St. Louis, the Lighthouse Free Methodist Church, where we served throughout the 1990s. Next, we relocated in 2000 to Maryland were I served as the lead pastor at New Vision Fellowship Free Methodist Church for 15 years and planted a church in the inner city of Washington, D.C. — New Vision in the City. In 2015, the Lord called Estelle and me to serve in Indianapolis at the John Wesley Free Methodist Church where we are “an international congregation with a global mission.”
I have an old photo, which captures a prophetic moment with my grandmother and me. This is priceless. She is looking directly at me, but through me. My grandmother told me right at that moment how she could see me preaching the gospel to thousands of people. She knew then my destiny was to become a preacher long before the manifestation of God’s saving grace and transforming power had completely changed the trajectory of my life. She looked beyond what I couldn’t see, and she saw what was already hidden in me, my destiny and the greatness within me to serve God in His kingdom.
Called With Purpose
You were called from the womb with purpose. God has prepared a plan for you to follow, an assignment, to be fruitful and to multiply. He has equipped you with everything you need to be successful in life, to be a blessing as you navigate through the stages of life. God places unexpected blessings in your life to let you know that He is not done with us. His calling on you, even before you were born, is still alive and well — no matter what you’ve been through, no matter what you are facing now.
Now that you’re here, right now in this moment, you are surrounded by the voice of the Lord calling your name, calling you (and me) with an assignment in life. It’s to tell our story how God stepped in and changed our direction, changed our minds, touched our hearts, and now we can see in another dimension what others can’t see because they are spiritually blind and spiritually deaf. You are now in the right place at the right time for a right word because God has you on His mind right now to reveal to you that there is greatness in you — greatness to be revealed in serving God and serving others.
This is a call to shift your thinking, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do great things and realize that God is doing a great work in you. God is going to use your life like a river that flows out of your innermost being (John 7:38). Everyone who knew you will be amazed at how God did a transformation in your life. I am here to tell you, don’t settle for less.
God has so much more for you to be and to see. He has crowned you with spiritual blessings, with grace and mercy. Grace and mercy are following you. When you turn, grace turns. When you move, mercy moves.
E. Kenneth “Kenny” Martin is the lead pastor of John Wesley FMC in Indianapolis, a member of the Free Methodist Church – USA Board of Administration, and a member of the Wabash Conference Ministerial Education and Guidance Board. He previously founded and served as overseer of Kingdom Ministries Network, an interdenominational and cross-cultural group of pastors and leaders.1