Like father, like son

Published 1:44 am Saturday, November 7, 2015

The father-son duo of Brother Lynn Martin and Brother Caleb Martin are pastor and co-pastor at Ben’s Ford Baptist Church.

Lynn, 66, who is the founder of Ben’s Ford Christian School, has been with Ben’s Ford Baptist Church for the last 37 years and his son has been there for the last five.
In 2005, Lynn had a brain aneurysm, which required surgery, and in 2006, an additional brain surgery was needed.

A few years after those surgeries, Lynn asked the church to call for a co-pastor. Caleb was pastoring in Livingston at the time.

“Our men got together and prayed and they called him to come and be our co-pastor,” Lynn said.

Lynn said the reason for this was so that when he retires, the church has a pastor and they don’t worry about finding one.

Lynn said his son has been doing more and more, in terms of being the senior pastor.

“I’m not fixing to leave, but we’re kind of in a transition place. He preaches Sunday mornings and I preach Sunday nights,” Lynn said. “On Wednesday night, he works with the youth. We have what we call a refuge group and they’ll average about 50, 55 teenagers on Wednesday nights.

“Then we have an AWANA Club program where we have from 2-year-olds through sixth grades and they’ll run about 100 kids on Wednesday nights. We’ve got groups working with them and he’s kind of overseeing all of this and I teach in the church — Bible lessons. That’s how we do it. We work together.”

Lynn got started pastoring at a church near Amite.

The pastor at Ben’s Ford at the time, Brother Milton Fleming, had been there for 23.5 years but was digressing in his health and eventually had to resign.

The church called Lynn. He had resigned from the Amite church about three or four months earlier.

“I didn’t know they’d ever want another pastor here because Brother Milton was such a fine man,” Lynn said. “But they called me after Brother Milton resigned.”

Lynn took the job, and over the years, the church has grown. He said when he took over they had about 35 people coming.

“God just opened the door of heaven and it began to grow immediately,” Lynn said. “Now on Sunday morning, we run about 450 and Sunday nights, we run around 300; on Wednesday nights about 250, 300.

“We’ve got a good congregation, good people. The Lord just placed me here and opened up the doors of heaven.”

For years, the church was in buildings projects. They made the first building twice as big and they added an auditorium and another building for offices and education. There’s another building called the fellowship hall and Bible College Building.

Ben’s Ford Christian School opened five years after Lynn came to Ben’s Ford Baptist Church and it has also grown. The school’s first year was the 1983-84 school year and the enrollment was 47. This year’s enrollment is 445.

Caleb, 30, has spent a lot of time in Ben’s Ford Baptist Church as a kid and as a pastor. He’s been preaching for the last 11 years, including the last five with his father at Ben’s Ford Baptist Church.

“It’s great,” Caleb said. “Not a lot of people have the opportunity to work with family and to be part of a father-and-son, but it’s been special. He is my mentor, the one I look up to and the one I want to be like. It is a joy to learn from, what I believe, is the best.”

Caleb said everybody tells him, wherever he preaches, that he sounds just like his father.

“I reckon he’s influenced my preaching in about every way,” Caleb said. “A lot of people say I sound like a young Brother Lynn when he was in his youth. So I reckon all of the years growing up under his preaching — he’s the only pastor I’ve ever had — I reckon that’s how I learned to preach. My style of preaching has come from him.”

Before coming to Ben’s Ford, Caleb preached at a church in Livingston. When he got there, the congregation was about 35 people and when he left three years later, it was averaging about 100.

He enjoyed preaching in Livingston Parish, but said when he got to come back to Ben’s Ford, it was home.

“Even though I love the people in Livingston, Ben’s Ford is still home,” Caleb said. “Daddy’s pastored here close to 40 years and I’m 30 years old, so I grew up in this place. My first Sunday being birthed on this earth, I came to Ben’s Ford Baptist Church — one week old. Being back here is being back at home.”

The church also does mission work. They donate things like Bibles, time and money to help with other churches.

Lynn and Caleb have been to different countries to help churches.

The three foreign countries they have invested the most time for missionary work are Belize, Mexico and the Philippines.

The Martins have gone there to preach, build churches and pass out Bibles. The church has also donated a lot of money to those ministries. They have also donated to churches in India and Africa.