Dec 31, 2013 New Year’s Eve
Bethel Gospel Tabernacle
Review by Joan Walker
A frigid Canadian winter evening greeted our musical guests, The Martins, on New Year’s Eve 2013. Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Hamilton, Ontario, hosted their annual musical evening of great music and spoken testimony featuring this talented trio, and people from all over southern Ontario warmly received them.
The Martins began their program with a couple of Christmas songs, including, “O Come O Come Emmanuel,” much to the joy of the audience. These carols fit in well with the Christmas decorations on the stage and throughout the church, poinsettias and trees that added an extra warmth of their own on this cold night.
Mixed within the program were Acappella songs which were loved by the listeners, as the Martins sang their familiar arrangements of “No, Not One” and “Count Your Blessings.”
Each member of the trio took the time to give the audience a look into their souls and their lives with brief testimonies of God’s provision, guidance and unending presence. Judy, the youngest of the siblings, told of struggling for over three years with a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness, even while knowing she was God’s child and He was her Lord. She found relief and guidance through a Christian counselor who began to help work with her and her depression. Judy talked candidly of dealing continually with depression through medication and God’s love, and the support of her family. The song “Wherever You Are” was sung as her living and ongoing testimony of her trust in God.
The audience joined in on the next well-known chorus, “I Can Sing of Your Love Forever” and a blanket of peace was felt throughout the building.
Jonathan Martin, the middle sibling, shared his testimony as well, touching on the struggles in his life as a father of twin boys who were born two and a half months premature. The boys celebrated their 18th birthday on December 31, and have achieved milestones that have made their father proud. Jonathan spoke of trials and tests that he went through, that we all go through, and gave the audience an amazing thought: you may be in a valley right now but it takes TWO mountains to have a valley…God is with us in our valley, and the next mountain is on its way. We can’t be afraid to reach out to Him and to the family of God around us.
“The Promise,” which has to be this writer’s favorite song sung by The Martins, followed Jonathan’s testimony. Please take a moment to find their rendition of this tune on their Best of The Martins CD/DVD. You will not be disappointed.
A stirring Acappella version of “The Doxology,” or “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow,” was the next song presented by the trio. The voices of Joyce, Jonathan and Judy once again exhibited their wonderful blend and clarity!
“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” opened the second half of the program, providing a bit of a swing sound with fantastic harmonies once again. People in the seats were clapping, snapping fingers, and some were even dancing in their seats as the song touched everyone in a different way.
The trio did several of their newer songs throughout the evening as well such as “New Day,” “Love Enough,” and “Unredeemed,” and these can be found on their latest CD, New Day. The audience embraced these just as much as the more familiar Martins’ standards.
We were then touched to hear Joyce’s testimony; her candid picture of her life on stage, singing the songs, quoting the Word of God. Suddenly, her life was turned upside down by betrayal and hurt and she ran from God just as she ran from her family. She wanted to get away from what she thought was Someone who couldn’t love her anymore; it was almost as though she was tired of hearing God’s voice in her ear. But God never stopped chasing her, and she slowly allowed her family and other Christians back in to embrace her and love her, as God began to heal the bruises and brokenness.
A lovely rendition of “Softly and Tenderly” was one of the final songs of the evening. I think we all wanted to stay and hear this talented family for many more hours! They blessed us with their words, their voices, and their lives as they shared from their souls.
We extend a huge thank-you to Joyce, Jonathan and Judy Martin for traveling to Canada to share your music and your lives with us, giving us a fresh taste of hope and God’s love for the New Year.
For more on the Martins visit http://www.the-martins.com/
Concert pictures courtesy of Joan Walker.