After three decades at Campion, Pastor Joe Martin has stepped down from teaching.
Known as “Pastor Joe” by the students, he was actively involved on campus. Martin worked as director of the Literature Evangelism (LE) program for 28 years and taught Junior Bible for his last three years at Campion.
“You could see his determination even in the way he walked down the street. No one on the LE team could keep up with him,” said Kelby Eickmann, a Campion alumnus who worked closely with Martin for two summers and two school years in Literature Evangelism. “Pastor Joe impacted my life by demonstrating what passion for Christ looks like. He put his love for God and other people into action. He didn't simply claim to have a desire to serve God; he really lived it. He is relentlessly stubborn and can sell books to anyone,” Eickmann added.
Martin grew up Catholic and joined the Marines at the age of 17, later serving in the Vietnam War. He commented on how he had his “fair share” of worldly ways but later had an unforgettable encounter with God. “I wanted something more to life than I had,” he reflected. “When God revealed himself to me, everything changed. I recognized how God could use young people, and it opened the door to a new ministry for me. It was such a joy to watch students grow spiritually, and I wanted them to know God for themselves, not just to pass the class.”
Grant Velbis, who graduated from Campion last year, shared his experience in Martin’s Junior Bible class. “Pastor Joe’s class helped me see that there is so much evidence and reasoning behind the things we believe as Adventists. Just how he lived his life inspired me because he lived with such passion and conviction for Jesus. He didn’t just ‘talk the talk;’ he lived out everything he believed. That is something I would like to have in my life.”
Martin’s goal for the students he taught and worked with was to help them grow in their relationship with God. Shelby Waller, a junior this year, reflected on the impact of his Bible class. “He taught us directly from the Bible, and he encouraged us to build our own relationship with the Lord. It was up to us how much we wanted to learn, and that motivated us to take notes and to learn more.”
In addition to his teaching, Martin’s influence encouraged students in their personal spiritual journey and he even baptized some of his students.
“Pastor Joe’s class influenced me a lot during my junior year; it was very interesting, and I just couldn’t help but pay attention,” said Susan Wang, a 2019 Campion graduate and international student from China. “I really liked how he taught Revelation in a way that we have hope after we die. Pastor Joe also reminded us to be thankful for waking up in the morning, daily life, and for receiving help from others. I was really moved by this and so I decided to get baptized. I did Bible studies with him on Tuesday and Thursday mornings before I got baptized, and even continued to do them into my senior year,” Wang added. ”He gave me a space to share my day and struggles, and he would encourage me with Bible verses and life advice.”
Martin was well-known for taking the time to talk with both students and staff members, spontaneously offering to pray with them. “Joe Martin prayed with me through many challenges and encouraged me in tough times,” noted Principal Don Reeder. “I also saw that (because of his influence) more students would begin to pray together, and staff would pray with students. Joe Martin focused our attention on the importance of prayer and developing a good relationship with God. I will miss him.”
Sami Hodges, Student News Team