Release Date: 9/2/2014
Tyler Martin came to University of the Ozarks to play basketball and pursue a physical education degree. He left with a passion for God and a calling to serve Him through college ministry.
Martin, a 2014 Ozarks graduate, is currently serving a full-time, one-year internship with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries on the campus of the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He is working to become a nationally certified U.S. missionary for Chi Alpha, an Assemblies of God Christian ministry for college students that is on more than 300 campuses across the country.
With the help of Admission Office Manager Emmalee Morrow, a member of the Assemblies of God Church, Martin started the Chi Alpha organization on the Ozarks campus in 2012 and watched it grow from about 15 students to close to 50 in the course of two years. Under Martin's leadership, the Ozarks chapter of Chi Alpha sponsored small group Bible studies and Monday evening services, both of which quickly grew in popularity.
After establishing the first Chi Alpha student Christian organization on the Ozarks campus in 2012, recent graduate Tyler Martin is pursuing a career in collegiate ministry with the organization.
"During my junior year I knew my basketball career was over and I was praying to God about what He wanted me to do on this campus," Martin said. "I was a little aware of the Chi Alpha group at Arkansas Tech, and I thought it might be a good organization to have on the Ozarks campus. I talked with Emmalee and we just started contacting people. It started pretty small and just gradually grew."
At UCA, Martin is involved in outreach efforts and leads a weekly disciple group, the D-Group, of about 12 male students "in their walk with Christ through life." He also helps organize the organization's weekly Monday evening service that includes live music and ministry. The first Monday evening service drew more than 700 students.
"It was pretty wild to see more students at the service than we had in the entire college at Ozarks," said Martin. "Chi Alpha is really big here. It's the largest campus ministry on the UCA campus and may be the largest in the state."
Martin said Chi Alpha preaches the importance and value of family, a lesson he learned first-hand on the Ozarks campus.
"I feel like I can talk about family because that's what Ozarks was to me," Martin said. "My heart will always be at Ozarks and it will always be a special place for me because it helped me figure out who I was and where I wanted to go."
Martin plans to pursue a career in collegiate ministry with Chi Alpha, something that would have seemed far-fetched when he enrolled at Ozarks.
"I thought I knew what I wanted to do, but I found Chi Alpha and everything changed for me," Martin said. "I discovered that I have a real love for this kind of work. My professional goal is to pioneer Chi Alpha organizations at other colleges and assist them in growing and reaching students.
He said there is a "real need for campus ministry in this country and in this world."
"Our college campuses are made up of every ethnic, cultural, racial, political, social, and spiritual group in the world. They are the future businessmen, teachers, lawyers, politicians, nurses, and most importantly, neighbors, mothers, and fathers. The future of our world relies on the success of these university students. Chi Alpha Campus Ministries serves to reconcile students to Christ and disciple them into transforming their university, the marketplace, and the world."