Tribute to Ada Martin
(1941 - 2000)
Tireless advocate for the Homeless in Columbus, Ohio
Please note that the Take it to the Streets web site is currently unavailable. Click here for information on how to contact them by mail, phone, e-mail and fax.
Precious in the sight of the LORD [is] the death of his saints.
We first heard of Ada and Harold Martin's work with Take it to the Streets 3 or 4 years ago. We were watching the local news and saw them taking meals and other necessities to the homeless. What was strikingly different about their approach was that they went into the woods, over railroad tracks, etc. to seek out the homeless. They made house calls to the wooden shacks, tents, cardboard boxes, etc. that the homeless lived in. I remember thinking that these were a group of those rare Christians who were willing to get their hands dirty and really give their all for the Lord. We decided right away that we had to meet them. I wanted my children to see Christians like this in action.
Since then, we've had an opportunity to see Ada, her husband Harold, and their daughters Sabrina and Rhonda involved in many activities to benefit the homeless. What was most moving to us was to watch how they interacted with the homeless people they served, particularly when they were making their 'house calls'. By being willing to go visit them in their own environment, Ada and the others helped to give them a real sense of dignity, and and awareness that they had an advocate who cared deeply about them.
Another thing that was strikingly different about their approach was their insistence that God be a vital part of their ministry. It was, and still is commonplace to all join hands and have prayer together before leaving the camp sites. I recall a few times when we were in a hurry that we neglected to do this. This prayer time meant so much to some of the homeless that they would sometimes stop us and not let us leave until we had prayed with them. Ada realized that you can't just deal with their physical needs as most homeless programs do. She understood the importance of also dealing with their spiritual needs. It is for that reason that she and the others at Take It To The Streets are able to give so much hope to those who have such difficult lives.
Most people will never know the suffering and the sacrifices that Ada and her family have been through on behalf of the homeless. We have seen both Ada and Harold defying doctors orders to take it easy after having heart problems, and getting right back out there climbing hills, hiking through the woods, etc. to deliver food and other items. And what we've seen has only scratched the surface of what they've endured. Nothing stopped them. Even when they've personally faced great financial challenges, they always found the money to continue providing the vital services that were so desperately needed by those who they served.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
About a year ago, Ada told me that she was very tired. She said she was truly looking forward to being with the Lord in Heaven. But you'd never know how tired to the bones she was by the way she was so driven. A couple months ago we spoke by phone. She said her pace-maker had activated several times while she was in the hospital. She nearly died several times in one day. Yet as soon as she was able to, she was back out making visits to the people who she so dearly loved, even though she had no business doing so for health reasons. Anyone who knew her much at all knew that this was typical behavior for Ada (and for Harold). It was not possible for her to stay away from her homeless friends. I have never in my lifetime seen such deep devotion and love for others as I have in Ada and her family.
Ada was an inspiration to everyone who knew her. The lives she touched went far beyond the homeless people she served. She led the kind of life that makes anyone who knows her take a hard look at their own lives. Her sacrifices and willingness to bear her cross in this life take away all the excuses any of the rest of us could have for not being actively involved in the service of our Lord. She set an example of Biblical proportions. Few people on this earth will ever live up to the standard she set. I listened to her several times as she shared how hard it sometimes is to get people to notice the homeless, and to get people to help them out. I wondered how much more Ada would have been able to do if she hadn't had to spend so much time chasing donations. If people could just see, first-hand, the hope and dignity that Ada and Harold give to the homeless, I suspect they'd have been seeking out Ada and Harold with offers of financial and other assistance. I hope that this some day becomes a reality. Now that Harold and his daughters have a greater burden to bear, it would be nice for a change if those who have the financial and time resources to help out would start coming forward and offering to do whatever they can.
While our family is sad for Ada's family for the loss they feel, we are joyful that Ada is now able to rest from her tireless work. She is now in the company of our Lord whom she served so faithfully and diligently. She is now experiencing a joy that is far beyond anything we can imagine on this earth. And the best is still yet to come for her. We also know that we will one day see her again. We thank Ada for being a role model that our children can look to as an example of what a Christian is supposed to be like. We are grateful to her for her prayers, and for her friendship. We will miss her very much in this life, but are very much looking forward to seeing her again in the next one.