On This Day in UB History: March 4

Guillermo Martinez with his wife Linda and two young children.

Guillermo Martinez with his wife Linda and two young children.

On March 4, 1970, Guillermo Martinez was taken under guard to the airport in La Ceiba, Honduras, and put on a plane to Nicaragua. It was not his choice, but it was God’s plan for what, today, is a very strong Nicaragua Conference.

Guillermo Martinez was born in El Salvador. A Honduran couple adopted him when he was seven years old and raised him in Honduras, but he kept his citizenship in El Salvador. Guillermo moved to La Ceiba in 1950 and became involved with the United Brethren church. He went on to become a highly respected pastor in Honduras Conference.

Missionary Archie Cameron said of Guillermo, “He was a people’s pastor. He really went out after people, helping people, and continually visiting, visiting, visiting.” Fellow pastor William Smith-Hinds said, “He was tireless—always busy, friendly, outgoing, involved with people.”

In June 1969, El Salvador invaded Honduras in what is called the Soccer War, because it came after a soccer match between the two countries. In La Ceiba, far from the fighting, Guillermo was among the hundreds of Salvadorans detained for two months amidst terrible conditions. He held evangelistic services among the detainees, and many became Christians. However, it became clear that he couldn’t remain in the country, nor could he take his Honduran wife to El Salvador.

How about Nicaragua? A Honduran pastor had moved to Nicaragua in 1967 to start churches. He could use some help. So he was flown to Nicaragua, where his wife and three children joined him a month later. The Martinez family settled on the outskirts of Masaya, where he started a church. Within a year, 60 persons had found Christ.

Guillermo became superintendent of Nicaragua Conference, and led those churches for many years, including through the difficult years after the Sandinistas took power. He continued as superintendent until 1997, and passed away in September 2009.

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