It has been a little time since Marty Ozinga died and there have been some beautiful tributes written and spoken about him. His sons, family and long time friends had amazing things to say and it was meaningful to hear their experiences. Marty was a good friend and we had been working slowly on a book over the last two years. Perhaps most poignantly (for me at least), I was his pastor for the last several years. This is a reflection of our journey together.
The first thing I want you to know about Marty is that he was a man who knew how to bless. We first met because he had read a book that I had written. He invited me to lunch through our mutual friend Barry. The point of the lunch was simple: he wanted me to know how thankful he was for the book and how proud he was of me for my willingness to take a stand for Jesus. That lunch was the beginning of our friendship.
The second thing I want you to know about Marty was his wisdom and grace. I knew that Marty was a man I wanted to learn from so I asked him if he would be willing to mentor me. He graciously said yes. Over the years of our friendship, we met more times than I can count. I would ask questions about leadership, parenting, vocation and following Jesus. He had stories and wisdom for just about everything. He was a great story teller. What I loved the most was who he was in our friendship. He was a good man; someone who I believed had hard fought knowledge we all needed to hear; I know I needed to hear. It was these lunches that were to be the content of our book.
The next thing I want to share is that Marty stood with me and Calvary as we did the good work of becoming viable for another generation. A few weeks ago, I preached on the ‘Jonathan Mantle’. Jonathan spent his life, prestige, social equity and his future so that David could be great. Marty did the same for me. Again and again, he encouraged me to dream big, to not let traditionalism stand in the way of the gospel, and to never stop moving forward. He believed we could do extraordinary things and his faith gave me courage. He was one of my Jonathans and I am so thankful for that.
Finally, Marty was a bona fide disciple of Jesus. I walked with Marty through one of the hardest seasons of his life. Suffering reveals a person, for good or for bad. In the valley of the shadows, Marty clung to Jesus. He would tell me how blessed he was as the sufferings kept piling on. He trusted the Lord when there was no apparent relief to be had. In that season, Marty grew in extraordinary ways, and it humbled me. There was never bitterness or anger in him, just a man at the mercy of Jesus.
Last year, Marty was married to Melissa Roeda. The next months were filled with delight. He saw the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Marty was right. God is faithful and good. His faithfulness has no limits, and his mercies are never ending.
I’lla miss you, Marty. It’s hard to think about not having your voice in my life. But like you, I trust the Lord and look forward to seeing you on those heavenly banks of the river Jordan.