Juan Martínez, professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary, presents a convocation address at Eastern Mennonite University. (Photo by Andrew Strack)

Fuller Theological Seminary professor Juan Martínez visits campus

Fuller Theological Seminary professor Juan Martínez visited Eastern Mennonite University last week to make multiple presentations, including a seminary chapel sermon on the theme of “Running With My Grandmothers” with scripture from Hebrews 12:1-3.

Martínez also presented a convocation address, met with students in an undergraduate Spanish course on the theme of marginalized voices, and shared fellowship with students, faculty and staff. His visit was part of the university-wide celebration of Latino Heritage Month, hosted by EMU’s Latino Student Association.

“An important gift he brings to the seminary is a timely reminder to consider importance of the church in the global south,” said graduate dean Sue Cockley. “Traditional ideas of mission have been evolving for quite some time, but we still need to check our perspectives and look with anticipation to the wisdom and enthusiasm that flows from congregations in this region of the world.  They have much to teach us.”

In his convocation address, Martínez spoke on the challenge of finding a clear path in times of darkness and confusion.

The path is indeed not always clear for followers of Christ, Martinez said. Yet, in the Bible, “in those moments when the people of God seem on edge and have lost their hope, when many just give up, some pray and seek out God, and in that process … out of those difficult times, those with eyes to see find that God has always been there creating new paths.”

“God puts in our mix people that God wants to use to speak into our lives and in for our future,” Martinez said. Many times these are the marginalized, the outsiders, the fresh converts who see  with new eyes and bring a new perspective.

Consider the vibrancy of the churches and followers of the global south, he pointed out. “Christians around the world are in places where they don’t have power or they can’t go to a Christian university. They live where they often have to hide the fact that they are followers of Jesus Christ or they suffer because they are followers of Jesus Christ. Many of these churches are poor and on the margins of society, yet they seem to be intuitively missional in their approach to be in church.”

Martínez is professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at the Pasadena, California, seminary. He has served in multiple roles there since 2001, including vice president for diversity and international ministries, vice provost, associate provost for diversity and international programs, and director of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community.

Among other topics, his research focuses on the history of Latino Protestantism, Latino Protestant identity, ministry in Latino Protestant churches, Latino and Latin American Anabaptists, and transnational mission among US Latinos.

Martínez joined Fuller from the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary in Guatemala City, Guatemala, where he served as rector for nine years. A Mennonite Brethren pastor, Martínez also has experience in church planting and teaching in both religious and secular venues. He served as director of Hispanic Ministries for the Pacific District Conference of the Mennonite Brethren Church and of Instituto Bíblico del Pacífico, a Mennonite Brethren Bible Institute.