___By Ted Elmore
___Should anyone question the success of Texas Baptists' mission efforts, look no further than the 10 most influential Texas Baptists of the 20th century. In that list is Angel Martinez, who in his personal testimony referred to himself as a "little shoe shine boy from San Antonio."
___Martinez was converted in a Baptist mission in San Antonio in July 1935 at the age of 13 and preached his first sermon in September of the same year. At the conclusion of that message, every member of his family except his father was converted to Christ.
___There was little if any doubt that God had called and
gifted Angel Martinez as an evangelist.
___He saw the wisdom of preparing to be an evangelist by receiving a solid education. He graduated from Baylor University in 1945 and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1949. He conducted 51 revival meetings as a seminary student.
___His reputation spread beyond the seminary campus in Louisville, Ky. In those years, a committee from Los Angeles contacted him about a citywide crusade. Martinez politely thanked them, but refused, saying God had called him as a local-church evangelist, not as a crusade evangelist. The committee then went to their second choice, Billy Graham. The rest is history.
___It is a mark of greatness and security in the Lord when one can say to a great opportunity, "That is not what God has called me to do."
___One of Martinez's trademarks was his colorful dress. Walter K. Ayres told the story of his own call to ministry in an Angel Martinez revival meeting. Ayers, a former University of Arkansas football player, walked forward in blue jeans and T-shirt and said, "Dr. Martinez, God has called me to be an evangelist too!" According to Ayers, Martinez replied, "Always look sharp, young man. Always look sharp!"
___Martinez offered insightful advice to a young evangelist about 15 years ago: "Prepare one new sermon each week, whether you preach it or not. The evangelist must stay homiletically fresh."
___He always ended his message by giving the same invitation, almost word for word. "No matter what I preach, I always tell people how to be saved." He always shared the gospel.
___Martinez's ministry spanned 60 years. At age 73, God called him home to heaven.
___When he led inquirers in the "sinner's prayer," he would say, "If you prayed that little prayer with me, I will see you in heaven."
___Conservative estimates are that Martinez will see more than 500,000 who prayed that little prayer with him somewhere in a revival meeting mostly in a Southern Baptist church, many in Texas.
___We are admonished in Scripture to not despise the day of small beginnings. Would any in that little mission in San Antonio in 1935 have dreamed how God would use a 13-year-old Hispanic teenager? No wonder Texas Baptists said Angel Martinez was among their Top 10!
___Ted Elmore is associate director of evangelism for the Baptist General Convention of Texas
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