By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
NAKARU, Kenya – 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 at Hebron Baptist Church in Bush, Louisiana, who died Jan. 1 while serving on her third mission trip to Kenya.
Martin, 21, 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 strong 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 the Leavell College of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, 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.’
“Pray for the family’s healing and peace,” he 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 during 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.