Even as family and friends mourn the loss of a loved one, they are celebrating the Christ-honoring legacy left behind by Emily Martin, an interim youth leader who died Jan. 1 while serving on her third mission trip to Kenya.
Friends and family fondly recall Emily Martin’s infectious laugh and constant smile. In the days following her untimely death Jan. 1, loved ones shared heartfelt messages on Martin’s Facebook page about how she impacted their lives.
Martin, 21, of Hebron Baptist Church in Bush, La., passed away following complications from a blood clot that developed inside her lungs shortly after arriving in the country.
Martin organized the trip, traveling with her brother Joshua, cousin Ashtin Mullett, and friend Vally O’Connor. While in the country, she worked alongside missionaries Len and Susan Eastwood, who represent Neighbors Outreach Worldwide ministry in Nakaru, Kenya.
Her father, Scot, told the Baptist Message that his daughter spent her final days in a place she loved.
Even before her first visit to Kenya, Martin had a love for missions that began as a teenager with a church evangelistic trip to Oklahoma where she took part in conducting Vacation Bible School. She also took mission trips to Belize and Guatemala in recent years.
A student with Leavell College of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), Martin likely would have moved to Kenya to continue mission work after graduation, her father said.
“Emily had this infectious laugh and smile that drew people to her,” he said. “She had a compassion for people and had a way of making people feel loved just like Jesus would. From the comments we have gotten in the past few days, we really have seen just how much of an impact she had on so many people.”
Rickie Wilson, pastor of Hebron Baptist Church, said Martin’s death weighs heavily on her family and the congregation, but that her legacy of serving Christ is a comfort to all who knew her.
“Her passing doesn’t seem real,” Wilson said. “She was one of the most joyful people I have met.
“When I first started, I asked her various questions such as, ‘If you could walk through a door and be anywhere in the world where would you want to exit to?’” he continued. “She answered, ‘Kenya.’
Emily Martin shares love with a young Kenyan girl receiving care under the umbrella of the Neighbors Outreach Worldwide ministry in the city of Nakaru. Her most recent visit to Kenya was her third mission trip to the country.
“Pray for the family’s healing and peace,” Wilson said. “Her parents have a strong faith. Pray for people to see in her life the love she had for reaching Kenya.
“Pray for the youth she worked with – to see and understand that she was willing to be used by God and even in this unexpected loss her life was a witness for Him,” he said. “Pray for their healing.”
Chuck Kelley, president of NOBTS, cited Martin’s love for the people of Kenya in an e-mailed statement to the Baptist Message.
“The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary family is shocked and deeply saddened with the news of the homegoing of our Leavell College student Emily Martin while on a mission trip to Kenya,” Kelley said.
“Emily was deeply passionate about the Lord and her calling. She loved the people of Kenya and had made several mission trips there. We pray for God’s grace and comfort for her parents and other family members as they deal with unimaginable grief from this sudden and unexpected loss. In addition, we pray also for our faculty and students as well as they return from the holidays to find her chair empty. Her life mattered to all who knew her here and all who experienced her love and witness in Kenya. May we all live and serve as she did.”
A funeral service will be held once Martin’s body is transported back to the U.S. Arrangements are pending at this time.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Brian Blackwell is a staff writer for the Baptist Message, baptistmessage.com, news journal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.)