“Elder Douglas J. Martin of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1987, 90
As a young man, Douglas Martin of Hamilton, New Zealand, was introduced to the gospel of Jesus Christ by an attractive Maori girl, Amelia Wati Crawford. Her example helped bring him into the Church, and the dedication of the Maori people he met in the Church helped him learn what it means to be a Latter-day Saint.
“They showed me the example of total obedience and faith in the Lord,” he recalls. They had very little in the way of material goods or education, but learning the gospel and following the Savior were much more important to these Maori members than obtaining things to make mortal life comfortable.
“I think I learned obedience from those people,” Elder Martin reflects. “I like to be obedient.”
That is just one of the strengths he brings to his new calling as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Looking at the men in his new quorum, he says, “I feel the very least of them.” And yet, whatever strengths and abilities he has to offer are committed to the service of the Savior, Church leaders, and his quorum.
The calling was stunning. “I literally didn’t sleep all that night” after receiving it, Elder Martin recalls. “I was overwhelmed.”
And yet the calling was a quite unexpected fulfillment of a hope. Just two weeks away from retirement as manager of a plastics molding plant, he was preparing to fill his spare time with some of the pastimes he enjoys—beekeeping, gardening, fishing, wood-turning, or surfing—if necessary. But what he and Sister Martin really wanted, after years in Church leadership positions, was an opportunity for full-time service. They hoped perhaps to receive a mission call. Now Elder Martin is looking forward to “for the first time, completely turning my life over to the Lord.”
In a sense, Elder Martin really took that step many years ago.
He was born 20 April 1927 in Hastings, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. He is a son of George and Jessie Jamieson Craigie Martin.
Already twenty-four years old when he was baptized in 1951, he nevertheless went on to serve a mission before he and Amelia were married.
Because there was no temple in New Zealand in 1954, Douglas and Amelia traveled to Hawaii, in company of a group of older Maori members, to be married in the temple. The Martins have three living sons: James, Sydney, and Douglas. (Another son, Craig, drowned in childhood.)
Church service has been a way of life for Elder Martin, who is now sixty years old. Shortly after the New Zealand Temple was dedicated in 1958, President David O. McKay called him as a sealer. During the temple’s first four years of operation, Douglas Martin served as temple recorder. Concurrently, he served as a bishop.
He later was a counselor to two stake presidents and served as president of the Hamilton New Zealand Stake for nearly ten years. He is a patriarch in that stake and was serving as a regional representative at the time of his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Martin says his wife has offered steadfast support for his church service. “She puts the Church first. She has a total faith” which comes from her Maori heritage, he adds.
The Martins have no regrets about giving up their retirement plans or the vacation home they were finishing. They are looking forward to the privilege of serving the Lord full-time. Elder Martin comments that it will be a blessing in his life to associate with the members of the First Quorum of the Seventy and to feel their great strength.
“I hope that I can justify the confidence that has been placed in me,” he says, “and I can only do that by staying close to the Lord.”