David & Lydia Martinez
Only through the guidance and direction of their Heavenly Father, David and Lydia Martinez transformed 970 acres of a rural ranch with no electricity or clean running water into the God-glorifying Orphanage Emmanuel that it is today. Both David and Lydia grew up under the direction of Hispanic Catholic families. Their mothers were friends, but David and Lydia had little interaction growing up. Only after returning to Oxnard, California from two tours of duty in Vietnam, did David catch Lydia's attention. After they dated for 2 1/2 years, they finally tied the knot! Neither David nor Lydia had a personal relationship with Christ but they thought they had all they would ever need or want...until one February night when Lydia's brother came over to their house with his pastors. By the end of the night, both David and Lydia had accepted Christ into their lives and a radical change began to take place in their hearts. They both decided to remove all things from their lives that were not honoring to God and would create a barrier to having a deeper relationship with Him.
After the Lord spoke to David through a vision, he felt called to sell all they owned and move to Honduras to begin ministering to God's children. Upon traveling to Honduras, they met a man being deported from the U.S. who would be used by God to give them the much needed direction they were seeking. David and Lydia began to minister to children in the streets via a Sunday school class they started. After children stopped attending, they felt that God was calling them to something else. They began to walk into the rural mountains to tell children bible stories and eventually began bringing bags filled with sugar, rice, and beans to feed their families. Although they were spreading the gospel of Christ to those that had never heard it before, God began tugging on David's heart to move in a different direction.
David felt a calling to start an Orphanage with the money they had made from selling all of their earthly possessions. They looked at a lot of land, but didn't feel at peace about any of it until they found out about a plot of land in rural Guaimaca, Honduras. It appeared to suit exactly where God wanted them to be and with a little work, it could be the realization of God's calling for their lives. They believed that they would be signing documents for 10 acres of land, but were informed that the property was actually 970 acres! God had truly blessed them for their faithfulness.
They moved onto the property in August of 1989 and received their first group of 5 children (4 boys and 1 girl) on December 22 of that same year. Today, Emmanuel is home to over 500 children who are raised in a loving environment where they are told about the good news of Christ. Every day at Emmanuel is a new day for God to demonstrate his faithfulness. God's vision for David and Lydia continues on through the lives of the staff and volunteers that have chosen to put God first and serve Him above all else.