Daryl Martin, Aug 30, 1967 – Sep 7, 2011
“Ok, I have an idea!” I continued, “If we want to clean up our unwholesome speech, cussing, we need to figure out a meaningful consequence.”
Daryl was always open to trying something new, “In order to quit swearing, what if it costs us $.25 each time we drop a verbal bomb? The proceeds we gather could then be donated to a ministry of our choosing at church, we’ll consider it an experiment,” I concluded.
He gladly agreed.
Then came the quarters.
He was working, and I was a college student attending Arizona State University, getting by, but with little to spare. The “cuss jar” reflected that. I probably dropped a total of $.50, it seemed to have the desired effect. But Daryl…Let’s just say any ministry would have been delighted with the proceeds from our experiment.
That’s the thing that surprised me with Daryl shortly after meeting him, he was open to new ideas. He was also funny, full of life, and passionate. Make no mistake, his personality, and “blank stare” sarcasm got the best of him at times, and sometimes in trouble with others.
It was clear something had to give. He wasn’t satisfied, and neither was I.
The cuss jar was one of our first steps together as brothers in Christ. New Christians. What we lacked in character, we made up with in zeal and intrigue about our newfound faith. As rocky a start as it may have been, we were indeed on our way.
Hard when someone you knew well in formidable years leaves this life to enter the next.
And so it is with Daryl Martin.
September 7th, 2011 Daryl exited this life, and was was swiftly ushered into the next.
Today I’m reflecting on a few of my experiences with him, and what I’m learning from him now.
Daryl and I loved mountain biking. I remember going to Domenic’s on Mill Ave in Tempe, and looking at mountain bikes. I had my eye on a Raleigh bike, it was silver and yellow. Daryl was a few years older than me and a few inches shorter. After settling on what bike to purchase, Daryl followed suit with the same model I went with, silver and blue in color with a smaller (18″) frame.
“Cool!” I thought, “a riding buddy.” Oblivious at the time that Daryl’s purchase reflected more than just a desire to ride. More on that later.
We spent evenings riding around Tempe, going to parks, finding rock faces to ride up and down, racing through the ASU campus. On weekends we’d go up north to Sedona and ride the red rocks. We had a GREAT time. Lots of laughs and a few spills. Other than a few scrapes here and there, we had no major injuries!
We returned to Domenic’s often, and purchased one of the first front bicycle shocks for mountain bikes available (Marzocchi). Together, as you might expect.
Exploring the Christian Faith
A few months after becoming roommates, we started going to church, reading the Bible, and learning more about who this Jesus was, and what He might want of our lives today. I was reminded anew of my need for a Savior and responded. God was working on Daryl’s heart too. It was a period of time that had us thinking of what we’d learned about life and relationships growing up, and challenged our very way of living.
Insert Problem: our lives didn’t always match our new and developing beliefs. What about our friends who observed our young walks and came away with more questions than answers as they observed our actions lagging behind our beliefs? Our hypocrisy.
Fortunately, at that time we had a great pastor in Nathan Lutz. He always seemed to have such timley sermons, and wise council, and we’d come away with a refreshed desire for the Savior.
Like many of us, Daryl and I had challenges growing up. The broken aspects of childhood were confronting us as young adults. I was impatient with myself, and with him, even questioning if we were truly saved. Later I would come to understand that the work of Christ applied to us instantly and as new believers we weren’t exempt from the reality that “old habits die hard.” Christ is the one who both starts the work, and finishes it.
With a hunger for adventure coupled with our newfound faith, we decided to get a bit more serious with our bike riding.
Off to Ireland.
Pastor Nathan Lutz was kind enough to pray for us before leaving Arizona, and give us what ended up being half a saddlebag full of gospel tracks (Travis).
Daryl went directly to London, while I flew to Cleveland, as I had planned to stay the summer in Germany after Ireland prior to a 1 year exchange program.
Shortly after meeting him in London, we were on a flight to Dublin. With bikes in tow, we stayed our first night in a youth hostel.
Bright and early we started on our 10 day journey. Averaging 40 miles a day, we experienced great weather, beautiful landscapes and some of the friendliest people in Europe, the Irish.
During one of our breaks, I remember us visiting a video store.I thought this
might be a great place to share some of those Gospel tracks that were loaded up in a saddlebag. Reluctantly, Daryl agreed to stand guard while I combed the isles of the store distributing a couple handfuls of gospel tracks randomly on top of the video covers.
Once out of the store, we sped off on our bikes as if we just robbed a bank!
Not sure how effective it was, but we prayed God might use it in some way.
We slept where we could, pitching our tent on the beach, next to a golf course, praying at the close of each day, and reading the Bible. On our journey, we enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation, and His provision.
One night we camped, with permission, in someone’s back yard. It rained all night our tent wasn’t leaking, it was filling up! We made it through the night, and the couple that let us stay in their yard, offered us breakfast in the morning, which we gladly accepted! We soon discovered they were believers, and we had a great time of fellowship together. We left them refreshed, knowing God was with us.
After 10 days in Ireland we went back to London (by train) stored our bikes, and continued to Scotland. There Daryl found a job at a hotel in Inverness, I believe it was the Waterside Hotel, where he ended up working most of the summer before returning to the US. We said goodbye, and I went on to Germany.
That was before email, and even so, we managed to correspond by mail and speak several times over the phone.
Reconnecting and Reconciliation
We began losing touch. After school started that year, he mentioned he was involved in Church back in Arizona, and while our friendship continued when I returned to the US, it was not the same as when living together. One year after the exchange program, I graduated from ASU, and spent 5 months in Africa as a missionary.
During the years that followed, I would receive updates from time to time of his continued involvement with the church, outreach activities, and the like. It is always encouraging to hear such news!
The last time Daryl and I met was after years not seeing each other. I believe it was 2005. While having lunch at a restaurant in Tempe, Daryl began to tell me that his marriage was on the rocks, and that they were headed for a divorce. My heart broke, I wasn’t sure what to say or do.
With the news of Daryl’s home going last week, I realized this was a missed opportunity. Daryl and his wife had been in ministry. People in ministry who are going through personal or relationship challenges often feel trapped (who to talk to?). Back at Domenic’s bike shop Daryl wasn’t buying a bike with me for adventure alone, he wanted a friend. In the same way Daryl wanted a friend that day at lunch.
I missed it.
God did not.
We prayed, and asked that God might do a miracle.
Since that lunch, news about Daryl was few and far between. I was saddened to learn that he and Rebekah had proceeded with the divorce.
However… a couple years later, I learned that God had performed a miracle. Something one might dream up for a book or movie. I’m still not certain what exactly happened, but I was thrilled to learn that they reconciled and remarried at the end of 2008.
Shortly after they became missionaries, serving the poorest of the poor in Malawi Africa. Daryl left a lucrative career path, he and Rebekah sold their possessions, and went headlong into what they felt God called them to do.
If you have a moment, here is a video about the ministry Daryl, Rebekah and family were a part of. The song, Beautiful Things speaks volumes, and has become my favorite.
Before becoming a missionary Daryl had invested in himself, he got a degree, and had a comfortable lifestyle. Living with him, I knew him as someone who “liked what was good.” He and Rebekah chose to leave all that to invest in something greater, something eternal. Responding to the call to preach the gospel to the ends of the earth, among the poorest of the poor. The Great Commission.
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:18-20.
Sorrow and Reward
Daryl, Rebekah and family served in Malawi Africa until Daryl’s untimely and tragic death last week, September 7, 2011, from injuries sustained when elephants unexpectedly charged Daryl and his wife Rebekah while visiting a wildlife reserve in Malawi.
Shortly after hearing the news, my mind raced with questions about the well being of those left behind.
Later I realized this missed opportunity I had with Daryl, I was comforted to know that he was experiencing the reward of a life well lived, the reward reserved for those who place their hope and trust in the Savior. Daryl is realizing the joy of his salvation and the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice in the very presence of God.
According to the report given by Iris ministry who Daryl and Rebekah served with, there were hundreds who turned out for his funeral in Malawi on September 8th, including 10 village chiefs and a senior chief of chiefs from local villages.
Daryl served well, he touched thousands of lives. If you’ve read to this point, I’m assuming he’s touched yours as well. He will be missed by those he served in Africa as well as those in the United States.
It has taken some time to compose this tribute. I struggled with many things surrounding this news, shed many tears, and there may be more to come. How I wished I’d maintained our friendship. His death, the manner in which he passed, the fact that he was young, full of energy, and had a heart for the poor and hurting. What was it that caused God to see fit to take him home?
A hard question with no easy answers.
Yet, in all my pondering, there’s one thought I keep coming back to.
Perhaps it’s you. Perhaps it’s me. Evaluating our own lives, priorities, and where we invest our time.
The Bible says, this life is like a vapor (James 4:14), or as one translation renders it, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” (NLT).
I have no guarantees, none of us do. Where are you investing your life? When your life is extinguished on this earth, will others say you invested well? What will your maker say? These are the questions that I’m wrestling with. Perhaps others are too.
Over the past week I spoke to many friends about this situation, one said Daryl looked up to me.
One thing is for sure, today it’s me…
..looking up to him.
See you later brother.
Have story about Daryl? Feel free to share it below.