A Missionary's Story
The year was 1867. A young American missionary couple by the name of Dr. Samuel and Lydia Martin sailed to India to join a small group of Presbyterian missionaries. Both had been involved in farming and had grown up in the Midwest. U.S.A .
They settled in the Northern province of Punjab, an area that is now a part of present-day Pakistan. There, they started preaching the Word of God to the surrounding villages. At the time, these villages were populated by the farm land owners of both the Hindu and Muslim faiths. Most farm laborers that worked for these landowners in the area
were from the lowest caste of the Hindus and the lowest ranks among Muslims . They were called "Kumees", an Urdu/Punjabi word for cheap farm laborers. These farm labor workers were regarded as untouchables and were treated as subhumans at the hands of their masters, the Landowners.
Dr . Samuel and Lydia Martin, with their caring and compassionate demeanor, won the hearts and the minds of these marginalized farm laborers as they preached the message of Christ, day after day, and year after year . The Christ-like compassion shown towards these people, along with the witness experienced within several villages, resulted in the families of the lowest caste Hindus and most marginalized Muslims starting to accept Christ.
When Lydia Martin died in 1886, Dr. Samuel Martin and his children continued their mission work.
After serving these farming poor labor families for over two decades, Dr. Martin, with the help of the British Government, was able to secure a large canal area of several thousand acres
that could be developed as farmland. He then brought seventy two families from different surrounding villages who had accepted Christ at his hands, and settled them in this newly formed village. The village was named Martinpur after The Martin's. These 72 families were among the first converts to Christianity in Punjab. In 1898, Dr. Samuel Martin built the First United Presbyterian Church in the village .
Present Day Martin Memorial United Presbyterian Church
Dr. Samuel and Lydia Martin had realized earlier in their ministries that once the most marginalized came to Christ, they had to be cared for in order to become self-sustaining. Dr Samuel Martin not only gave these new Christian converts the message of salvation through Jesus Christ, but also helped them to stand on their very own feet. He placed great emphasis on not only on the religious instruction of these new converts but also on their secular instruction until they learned to value education properly. In his judgment, their influence on other people would be dependent to some degree upon their education levels and intelligence and nothing would prove forcibly to other people, the divine power of Christianity, its power to educate and advance these people which other systems of religions in India had abandoned. For that reason, he assigned lands to these first converts to build a boys and girls school in the village of Martinpur so that Christians could be educated.
The Legacy of Martinpur
Here are some pictures of the descendants of those original 72 families of Martinpur initially brought to Christ by Dr. Samuel Martin. These individuals and families, spanning over four generations, have achieved excellence in all walks of life. Indeed there are many many more who have risen to prominence but cannot be mentioned here due to space constraints.
The lifetime of service and sacrifices of the Martins and their children will always be cherished, remembered and honored throughout the generations. The legacy they left is the life they led, a life well-lived. It reminds us all that our lives matter, and that everything we say and do is a deposit into our own legacies.
Dr. Samuel Martin died in 1910. Both he and his wife died in Punjab and are presently buried in the city of Sialkot, Punjab, Pakistan.
Pakistan Christian Outreach Foundation is committed to preserving the valuable history of this great missionary couple. Efforts are underway to begin research, erect a memorial, and build a library to honor Dr. Samuel and Lydia Martin in the village of Martinpur. Memorabilia will be collected and compiled and all the documents and photos will be displayed in the library to honor this couple and to preserve their history for generations to come.
Indeed, the story of the Martins is one of the many thousands of untold stories that need to be brought to light. The lives and the sacrifices of these missionaries of then India and present-day of Pakistan, both Catholic and Protestants, have largely gone untold and, if not preserved, will be lost in time. We believe that certainly would be sad and very unfortunate.
Please donate to help with this ongoing research regarding the Christian missionaries of Pakistan.