Pastor becomes family’s brother and handyman
Written by BILL RYAN Sentinel Religion Editor
Saturday, 03 November 2012 08:42
PERRYSBURG — Church involvement is often the way to strengthen one’s faith.
|Tom Martin sits with brothers Dakota and Dylan in the boys’ newly renovated room. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
For Tom Martin, CedarCreek Church has been that vehicle and he has become a driving force as the pastor for the Perrysburg campus. More importantly he has become a welcome addition in the lives of two young boys.
His role for the church and the boys was showcased Sunday with a home makeover reveal.
“It was such a blessing,” Martin said of the work done on the mobile home of Ryanna Simmons. The home was renovated for her and her three children.
“Oh my gosh. I don’t know where to start,” Simmons said. “Wow, I thought I was in somebody else’s home. I was just blown away.”
“I am amazed at how generous people become in even in tough economic times,” Martin said. “This gives them such a fresh start.”
Martin said God directed the effort.
He was a tennis pro and a successful businessman serving in marketing and communications. As a CedarCreek member for 12 years, he first served on the financial advisory team and later took on other roles.
Being a pastor was not on his radar, but the very morning he quit a job which required him to commute to Las Vegas each week and away from his family, Senior Pastor Lee Powell phoned offering Martin the role of campus pastor.
“I don’t know why, you have to ask God,” Martin said about the change.
Powell did not know Martin had just quit his job. After some discussion with his family to overcome his reluctance and insecurities, Martin accepted the post last October.
“It’s been incredible. I am so blessed to be able to do something where I don’t feel like I go to work.”
Martin said the new career has been both “challenging and fun.” He added, “All the things I’ve learned in the workforce, all the skills I’ve used previously, I’m using them all and learning more.”
But God was not done.
Simmons is a single mother of Brittney, 15, Dylan, 10, and Dakota, 7. She knew the boys needed a male role model.
Martin said as part of the church’s efforts to reach out and help others, they brought in many charitable organizations including Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
Many church members volunteered, but Simmons approached Martin after the matches were done. She said she was disappointed that her boys did not have a big brother and that they had been on the waiting list for two years.
|Tom Martin (left) sneaks a peak as Dakota Morley and his brother Dylan see their newly renovated room for the first time.
He told her he would make some calls. When he told his wife, she got a baffled look and told him, “Why make a call, why don’t you just do it?”
“I’m positive God laid that out,” Martin said.
Seeing the struggles Simmons was facing, including an upcoming surgery, he realized the church could help. He sought and received approval from Powell. The church and the congregation provided a complete home makeover.
“While she was having surgery, it was a great opportunity to change someone’s life,” Martin said. “It was such a God-orchestrated thing of how it came together.”
The boys stayed with Martin during their mother’s surgery and recovery; their sister stayed with Powell.
“He takes us lots of places, he’s like a real brother for me,” Dylan said.
Martin does not have any sons, so handling the boys has been an adventure for him.
“Boys don’t have an off switch. I looked for it, there’s not one on them,” he joked.
Simmons feels blessed for Martin coming into her life — and the boys’.
“They definitely needed a male role model in their life,” she said. “They were waiting for such a long time and I was getting discouraged. I was so ecstatic, I cried and cried.”
The list of renovations completed could fill this page.
“It was like a miracle. All these people that truly have the love of God in them. All these people that volunteered — People that knew me and people that didn’t,” Simmons said.
Martin estimates the work has a value of more than $25,000.
“CedarCreek has always done amazing things for people and never did I imagine such a thing would happen for me and my children,” Simmons said. “I can’t wait to get back on my feet so I can help someone else.”