Urban Report

Personal Testimony

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Yvonne Lewis (Host), Dwayne Caines, Wayne Caines


Series Code: UBR

Program Code: UBR000093S

00:00 Are you ready for the ultimate encounter?
00:04 Well stay tuned to meet the man that wants to take you there.
00:07 My name is Yvonne Lewis and you're watching Urban Report.
00:31 Hello! And welcome to Urban Report.
00:33 My guest today is Pastor Lionel Martell,
00:36 pastor of the Omega and Shalom SDA churches in Connecticut.
00:41 I know Pastor Martell personally and I know that he loves to
00:44 present the gospel at every opportunity.
00:47 Some of our viewers have never experienced Jesus
00:50 or don't know anything about Him.
00:52 If that's your situation, this program is for you.
00:56 If you're already a believer, you're going to get some new
00:59 insights into the Word of God today.
01:02 Welcome Pastor Martell.
01:04 Well, it is certainly a real joy and a really great privilege
01:08 to be able to share what I perceive to be one of the most
01:11 amazing, miraculous, life-changing experiences
01:15 of my life: that is my personal encounter with my Lord and
01:19 Savior Jesus Christ. Well we can't wait to hear it.
01:23 We can't wait to hear it. Let's talk a bit about...
01:25 about your journey and where you're from.
01:27 Where were you born? I was born in Harlem Hospital
01:31 in Manhattan, New York City
01:32 and raised partially in Spanish Harlem, South Bronx,
01:35 West Bronx... all round about.
01:37 So you were raised in the "hood" so to speak.
01:40 Yep. In the "hood. " And so coming up as a child...
01:46 Let's first look at your childhood
01:48 coming up as a young boy in the inner city.
01:52 What was that like for you?
01:54 Well, there's one word that encapsulizes it all, and that
01:57 one word would be wild. At that time I was...
02:00 I was like... "up to no good in the hood" you know.
02:03 Running with gangs. Into everything under the sun.
02:06 All of that was mad fun to me
02:09 and, you know, until you come in contact with Jesus.
02:13 But I'm going to let you take a little lead on that
02:15 and then I'm going to go into that in more detail.
02:17 OK, so when you say you were "up to no good in the hood"
02:20 which I love that phrase.
02:22 I might have to borrow that from you.
02:24 You can have it.
02:25 "Up to no good in the hood... " unpack that.
02:29 Like when you went to school... Let's start with elementary
02:31 school. When you were in school, were you applying yourself?
02:36 Because you express yourself really well as an adult.
02:39 Were you reading? Were you applying yourself
02:41 when you were in elementary school?
02:43 I was always very interested in intellectual pursuits
02:46 as a kid. I did exceptionally well in elementary school
02:50 but then as I started to tran- sition onto the higher levels
02:53 of education - high school - of course we got off the beaten
02:57 path. And I got involved in gangs and just the deterioration
03:00 that you would find in the average ghetto.
03:03 Yeah, you know, one of the things, Pastor Lionel, that...
03:07 that we see so often is that our young boys
03:12 are in a situation where they don't have a really good...
03:16 they don't have a father image or they don't have a mentor
03:20 or they don't have anybody to teach them about being a man.
03:24 Were you an only child? Did you have other siblings?
03:28 Were you in a two-parent household?
03:30 What was your household like?
03:32 Well, I wasn't the only child
03:35 but indeed I was a fatherless child
03:38 and more or less just left to the mercies of the environment
03:42 which at that time in the early 1970's
03:45 in that era was highly terri- torial with different gangs.
03:49 Those were the days of the Black Spades, the Glory Stompers,
03:52 the Javelins, the Peacemakers,
03:54 the Social Sevens, the Spanish lords... all over.
03:57 I mean, the Black Spades alone had like 103 divisions
04:01 and they were right... all the way almost up into my apartment
04:04 practically. But it was days of war:
04:08 of rumbles, of shooting and killing and stabbing and drugs.
04:13 And I didn't get involved in everything under the sun
04:15 but I did get involved in the gangbanging part of it.
04:20 And I'm only here today because of a miraculous
04:24 marvelous experience of deliverance that was wrought
04:27 through my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
04:29 Yes, and I want you to unpack that for us.
04:32 I just want to kind of take us up to that point a little bit
04:35 further. So in the inner city... because, you know, if you're not
04:40 raised there, if you don't have that experience,
04:43 you don't really know the dangers of just getting up
04:48 and going outside. The dangers that you confront
04:52 as especially a young male.
04:55 Because the gangs are trying to pull you in
04:57 and you have street life that's trying to pull you in.
05:01 And so all of that was converging upon you
05:05 and you made certain choices as a young male.
05:09 Correct? You decided to get involved with the gangs.
05:12 It's almost like survival, though, isn't it?
05:15 Well that was really the name of the game: survival.
05:17 Because in those days because the areas were...
05:20 were predominantly territorial
05:22 you felt the need to have some kind of protection,
05:26 some kind of security, so you associated with a gang.
05:29 This way if anything would happen to you,
05:32 one of your family members, you would have some kind of
05:35 serious backing. So I tried to associate with the strongest
05:39 gang in existence at that time in the area.
05:41 Yeah, I mean, it is such
05:47 a crisis and it's such a systemic issue
05:51 in the inner city because there aren't a lot of options.
05:55 And you choose... you tend to choose the option
05:58 for survival... that you feel is the best - yes -
06:01 option for survival. So... And that's what you did.
06:04 So you got involved in gangs, in that lifestyle.
06:09 Unpack that a little bit more for us before we find out
06:13 how you were taken out of that.
06:16 Well in that lifestyle means that once you get involved with
06:18 the gangs, of course, you know you're subject to rumbles,
06:21 fighting, killing, stabbing, shooting. All that kind of stuff
06:23 you're subject to. And you know just one day something happened
06:28 really crazy and I felt that God delivered me.
06:32 A bright light actually shone on me.
06:34 In fact, it covered that entire block
06:37 and I felt it. To me it was perceived as a frozen frame.
06:40 And it seemed like every time I was supposed to be stabbed,
06:43 shot, killed... something of this order...
06:46 like I was supernaturally delivered.
06:48 And so eventually it came to a crucible
06:52 and a critical point or apex in my life
06:56 where I had to make a decision.
06:58 Wow! That is to follow God's way or to continue the way
07:01 I was going only to interface premature death.
07:05 Wow! So you knew that if you continued along that same path
07:11 you were going to die or go to prison
07:14 because that was what was happening all around you.
07:16 Correct? Yes... sudden death
07:19 and certain death would have occurred.
07:22 But I was miraculously delivered.
07:25 How? And every day my song is plenteous redemption.
07:29 Oh, because one time I went up against
07:32 a certain group... I'm not calling names of individuals
07:36 or groups, but a certain group by myself
07:38 because of something that was done. And they were prepared.
07:44 They had guns out on me
07:45 and I didn't have a gun at the time. I just had...
07:49 Actually I had a slat from underneath my bed.
07:53 And they were pointing the guns at me
07:56 and this soft light covered... flooded the entire area
08:00 and I walked away untouched.
08:02 And so since I had been like getting delivered all along
08:05 I was wondering what... I became very curious about
08:07 this power that seemed to keep delivering me
08:10 at the last moment and snatching me out from the
08:13 auspices of premature death and the grave.
08:16 So I realized afterwards that it was... that it was Jesus Christ.
08:21 Now look at... Oh man, Pastor, look at what God did.
08:27 God all along had a plan for you.
08:30 Yes, yes. All along there was...
08:32 You... I was talking to a guest recently
08:37 and he was talking about his experience in gangs
08:41 and that lifestyle, and he said he was not a mistake.
08:46 You were not a mistake.
08:48 None of us were mistakes. God had a plan for all of us.
08:52 And so this plan that God had for you
08:56 you had no idea. You were out there gangbanging
08:59 but you saw this light. This light came into the situation
09:04 and you were able to just walk away?
09:07 While people were pointing guns at you, you were able
09:09 to walk away. In the same area where maybe hundreds of friends
09:14 were killed. Wow!
09:16 And that's why I'm really touched up to this very day.
09:20 Now the thing that really amazes me about those experiences
09:24 back then is that while I was doing what I was crazy enough
09:28 to do back then, what I saw myself doing back then
09:33 back then God saw me doing what I'm doing now.
09:38 That's right; that's right.
09:40 In other words, while I was gangbanging back then
09:43 God saw me teaching and preaching the gospel now.
09:47 God saw me visiting the sick now.
09:49 God saw me doing evangelism now trying to win souls
09:53 and build up the kingdom. So He saw me doing now
09:57 what, you know, I was doing back then.
10:00 What I saw myself doing back then.
10:02 I would never have dreamed
10:05 of doing now back then.
10:09 You know, if someone had told you that in 2014
10:14 you were going to be preaching the gospel,
10:16 you were going to be on fire for Jesus Christ,
10:18 you were going to be a pastor you would have said:
10:21 "What? Are you crazy? No way! " Am I right?
10:24 Yes, I would have said: "You're totally out of your mind.
10:28 I'm not religious. I'm not going to say that there's no God
10:33 in the sky but I don't see myself doing that in the future
10:39 at all. " So... OK.
10:42 So now, take us back to... You had this experience.
10:47 You realized that something is up here
10:51 'cause there's no reason why some light should shine down
10:54 on me and the guns that were pointed at me
10:57 didn't go off and I was able to walk out from there.
11:01 Did you at that point begin to seek God?
11:04 What was going on with you? At that point... At that point
11:08 the very next day I went up to my sister's house.
11:12 She lived... We were living at 511 East 150th Street
11:16 between Brook and St Anns in the South Bronx.
11:18 She lived on the 5th floor; we lived on the 3rd floor.
11:21 My cousins lived on the 1st floor.
11:23 The very next day I went up to her apartment on the 5th floor
11:26 and I... We were very close.
11:28 My sister was like a second mother to me.
11:31 And I said to her: "You know, something strange happens to me.
11:34 Every time it's time for like to go for a rumble
11:38 or some crazy thing happens where somebody is shot,
11:42 stabbed, killed, I'm almost like not around.
11:46 Without trying to duck it, without trying to dodge it
11:50 it's just like the circumstances just seem to be
11:53 maneuvering me elsewhere. And whenever I am there
11:56 I'm supernaturally protected. "
11:59 And my sister practically ignored what I was saying
12:03 and said to me: "Listen... "
12:06 she said, "just recently I joined a book club. "
12:09 As if I would be interested in something like that?
12:12 Of course not.
12:14 And I was like: that was sort of rude of her
12:17 to just totally ignore me
12:19 and start talking to me about books!
12:22 So she said: "Guess what I purchased? "
12:25 And I said: "What's that? "
12:26 She said: "A Bible. "
12:28 I said: "Oh, she's got to be joking now. What would she
12:31 be telling me about the Bible?
12:32 I'm not religious; I'm not a spiritual person.
12:35 Why is she telling me about the Bible? "
12:37 And she said: "In fact, I need you to help me
12:41 to maybe translate or understand this passage. "
12:45 And I was like: "Is she kidding me? "
12:48 And she turned to this scripture, passage of scripture
12:52 over there in the book of Matthew where it says:
12:54 "And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter
12:58 neither on the Sabbath day. "
13:01 Now I was a little taken aback when she said that
13:05 because... I'm older now but I went back in my mind
13:09 to the age of 7. My mom, she used to make us
13:12 stay upstairs on Sundays after church and read the scriptures
13:16 and keep Sunday holy.
13:19 And I was really angry about that because
13:22 sometimes the windows would be open and you would hear
13:25 all the street fun, you know, coming through the window.
13:27 People playing skelsy, stick ball, butterscotch,
13:30 and just seemed like they were just having a world of fun
13:33 out there while I've got to be upstairs praying and reading
13:36 the scriptures. So I was so upset one day that I took
13:40 the Bible and I sort of slammed it down on the bed.
13:43 And it popped open to Exodus chapter 20.
13:47 And my eyes landed on verse 8... dead smack on verse 8
13:51 where it say: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.
13:55 Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work
13:57 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.
14:00 In it thou shalt not do any work. "
14:02 So I was 7 years old.
14:04 And amazingly enough at 7 I went into the kitchen
14:07 to verify which day indeed was the 7th day of the week
14:10 only to my surprise to discover that Sunday
14:15 was the 1st day of the week and Saturday was the 7th day
14:19 of the week. So with the calendar in my left hand
14:22 and the Bible in my right hand
14:24 I proceeded to march into her room
14:26 and I said: "Ma... " I said... "with all due respect
14:29 to you, " I said, "do you realize that we
14:33 are worshiping on the wrong day? "
14:35 And she said: "What are you talking about? "
14:37 I said: "Well the Bible says Remember the Sabbath day
14:39 to keep it holy. Sunday is the first day of the week.
14:43 Saturday is the seventh day of the week.
14:46 So Sunday cannot be the holy day.
14:49 Can I go outside to play? "
14:54 Yvonne, I could really technically care less about the
14:57 sanctity of the day. Whether it was right or wrong
15:00 didn't matter to me. I just wanted to get out of that house
15:03 and get with the other kids out there on the streets.
15:06 Some skelsy, stick ball, whatever it was they were doing.
15:09 I did not want to be upstairs reading any dead, dry, boring
15:13 literature called the Holy Bible.
15:15 Isn't that amazing how your perspective
15:19 on it has changed so much?
15:22 Like at that point you felt like it was dead, dry,
15:25 and now you can't get enough of it.
15:27 Well because between then and now
15:31 something happened to me.
15:33 A very traumatic personal encounter
15:36 and that's why we call it "the ultimate encounter. "
15:40 Yes, yes, yes... Before you go there, though,
15:42 we have to know - 'cause I know my viewers are going to
15:44 want to know - what did your mom? How did she react to that?
15:48 How did she react to your saying the first day
15:51 is Sunday and the seventh day is Saturday?
15:54 Well she simply drove me out of the room
15:58 like Hurricane Sandy.
16:04 I'm surprised you didn't get a little paddling behind that.
16:08 No... no, she didn't paddle me but she was very upset.
16:11 Yeah... yeah, yeah, yeah. OK, so now
16:15 you are in the room with your sister
16:19 and your sister has asked you to interpret this passage.
16:23 You're going there with a theological question like
16:26 Why am I delivered all the time?
16:28 Why do these supernatural things keep happening?
16:31 and your sister asks you to interpret a text
16:36 which then carried you back to when you were seven.
16:39 So now - yes - what did you do
16:41 when your sister asked you to interpret the text?
16:45 OK, I said: "Now I don't know where it's found... "
16:48 I said: "I'm not religious you know. I'm not no...
16:50 no Bible student and I wouldn't be able to tell you
16:53 where this particular passage of scripture is located,
16:56 but, " I said, "somewhere in there it says
16:59 'Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy'
17:01 and the seventh day is the Sabbath day
17:04 but I don't know where it is. " I said: "It's somewhere
17:06 in there and it's a part of those commandments. "
17:09 So I began to search for the Ten Commandments
17:13 and I felt a little like ignorant that I didn't know
17:16 exactly where it was to show her what book it was in,
17:19 what verse, chapter, whatever. I just didn't... I had no
17:22 knowledge of the scriptures. None at all.
17:24 She was making us read every Sunday, but I was never really
17:26 paying attention to anything in there.
17:29 You know, my head was not there at the time.
17:31 Right, right. So I began to feverishly look for that.
17:35 And somehow in the process of trying to track down that
17:39 text I began to discover some other things.
17:44 I went to the book of Revelation where it talked about
17:47 the scorpion that had power in its tail to destroy 1/3 of
17:52 the population of the earth and many other passages that
17:55 I began to interpret literally
17:58 that were supposed to be - of course - interpreted
18:00 spiritually... that were figurative -
18:03 but I took them literally.
18:05 So they actually scared the living daylights out of me.
18:09 So I thought that these things were really going to happen,
18:13 you know, to us... to mankind.
18:15 And so I began to seriously read the scriptures.
18:19 At this point, it began to take on new meaning.
18:22 And then eventually I started trying to understand
18:26 better who God is.
18:30 OK, this is wonderful because you see how
18:35 God used your sister to draw you into an interest
18:40 in the scriptures. You had to answer something for her
18:45 and so He drew you into this dialogue with her
18:50 which then drew you further into searching the scriptures
18:54 for yourself. Right. And you developed a real
18:58 passion for the scriptures.
19:01 How did you have the ultimate encounter?
19:05 Because in the process of studying the scriptures
19:09 God began to reveal Himself to me.
19:13 My sister said: "There must be a true church
19:16 somewhere. " And she began to go to different churches.
19:19 And I said: "Well, if there's a true church
19:21 it has to be in harmony with God's will
19:24 at this particular point in time. "
19:27 And I said: "So it has to be in harmony with the plain
19:30 teachings of the holy scriptures from Genesis to Revelation. "
19:33 So she went to different churches, and she would come
19:36 back and tell me about this one, that one, the other one.
19:38 I just stayed... I just kept reading, reading, and comparing
19:41 what she was sharing with me with what was plainly taught
19:45 in the holy scriptures. And then eventually she
19:48 said... you know, she began to tell me about one
19:51 that was observing what I perceived to be
19:54 all of the commandments... all ten of them.
19:57 And I said: "Well let me go down and check it out. "
20:00 It was the Ephesus Seventh-day Adventist church
20:02 located in Harlem Manhattan.
20:04 And I went down there. The pastor got up and he
20:07 started preaching and I felt the Spirit of God
20:09 like very heavily upon him.
20:11 And he was speaking as if God was speaking directly
20:15 through him to me...
20:17 which challenged me to re- investigate the holy scriptures
20:21 but from a different perspective.
20:22 I began to seek for God.
20:25 I began to look for Him in every book and every chapter
20:29 and every verse and every line.
20:31 Studying His providence... the way how He
20:34 reveals Himself through circumstances and the way how He
20:38 orchestrates the affairs of the lives of men.
20:42 And then I came to a realization that this was the power
20:47 that had been with me all along.
20:49 Protecting me, delivering me, shielding me.
20:52 Now all the pieces of the puzzle began to topple into place
20:55 for me. And so I made up my mind to follow Christ.
20:59 I accepted Him and made up my mind to follow Him
21:01 all the way through the watery grave of baptism.
21:05 So that was really a turning point for you, was it not?
21:08 Big time. And I said that from this day forward
21:12 "I am Your servant. "
21:16 And trust me, God chose to just max out on that pledge.
21:23 One day I was in my room in my bed
21:26 and I heard a voice say to me...
21:28 I'm over there at 1125 University Avenue in the...
21:31 in the West Bronx now over in the Highbridge region.
21:35 In my room on my bed and God said to me:
21:39 "Get up. Walk over to the window.
21:43 Draw back the drapes and pull up the blinds. "
21:47 And He said: "As far as your eye can see
21:50 is your field of ministry. "
21:53 God said: "Go work for Me. "
21:56 He said: "Because the fields are whited unto the harvest. "
21:59 And He said to "Pray that the Lord will send workers
22:02 into the harvest. But I need you to work for Me. "
22:05 And of course it became chillingly clear to me
22:09 that He wanted me to try to evangelize all of those
22:11 projects round about that area.
22:14 And so back at the ranch the church that I was attending,
22:18 I had gotten baptized at: Ephesus SDA church
22:22 in Harlem Manhattan. In the basement of the church
22:26 they had just I can't even tell you
22:29 how many family Bible course Bible study lessons there.
22:35 And I was collecting them just by the droves
22:39 and just going from one project to the next - all 13
22:43 floors all 8 doors trying to enroll people in personal
22:46 Bible studies. And I literally covered every project
22:50 in that area from top to bottom
22:54 and the buildings in between.
22:57 And I did this with the Holy Spirit in the presence
23:00 of the holy angels every chance I got between school and work.
23:05 And I could sense them being in the room. You could sense
23:07 the Holy Spirit in my room. You could sense the holy angels
23:10 in my room as I began this new trek ministering to people.
23:14 Guiding me to them; giving me exactly what to say to these
23:16 people. Some were in the process of dying.
23:19 Some have virtually died, but the Lord was able to use me
23:23 to reach these people on time. So He delivered me
23:27 to use me, and He saw me doing what I was doing
23:30 then... He saw me doing that while He was delivering me
23:35 in the world. Amazing! And that's such an important point,
23:40 pastor, because so many people right now listening
23:45 might be caught up into a lifestyle that they don't want
23:49 to be in. Right. And they feel like they're too far gone
23:52 for God to love them. They're too far gone
23:55 for there to be a plan for them.
23:58 But what you're telling us and what your life has demonstrated
24:02 is that you're not too far gone.
24:04 That God can take you... If you're in a gang,
24:07 if you're in a lifestyle, if you're on drugs,
24:09 if you're using alcohol, if you're doing whatever...
24:12 God can take that life, wash it clean,
24:16 and set you in service for Him.
24:19 Which? What is there better than that?
24:21 There's nothing better than that. I don't know if it's
24:24 literally possible to go too far for God to save you.
24:29 Come on pastor! I believe much of that kind
24:31 of thinking is literally imaginary. Come on; come on.
24:35 And the reason why I would dare say all such
24:39 is because if I have to believe that I can reach a point
24:43 where God can't save me
24:46 then I would have to believe that His death on the cross
24:49 for me was a total farce.
24:52 Because why would He come from the third heavens
24:56 through deep space, against the gravitational forces of
25:00 our solar system to be born of a virgin?
25:03 To live, bleed, suffer, die?
25:06 Give up the ghost; shed His precious blood
25:09 to show me how much He loves me?
25:12 Then because of a few bad habits in my life
25:15 or some moment or period of rebellion
25:18 He just turns His back on me and closes out my probation.
25:23 No more mercy; no more forgiveness.
25:25 No opportunity to be delivered and saved.
25:29 I don't believe that.
25:30 I believe that so long as there is life there is hope.
25:35 Yes, yes. So pastor, in one minute
25:40 look into your camera and tell someone out there
25:45 how they can have the ultimate encounter.
25:48 I think the most important thing
25:51 in this world for people to realize
25:53 is that before you turn off the scene of human history
25:57 you have to come to know your Creator for yourself.
26:00 I'll never forget one day I was out there in Brooklyn
26:02 on Ocean Avenue at 11:30 at night.
26:05 I was standing there on the platform waiting for the train
26:07 to pull in. This tall fellow was standing next to me,
26:10 and I began to strike up a conversation to introduce him
26:13 to Jesus. And he said: "Don't try to preach to me.
26:16 I don't believe in God; I'm an atheist. "
26:19 I said to him: "I can tell you in less than three minutes
26:21 and prove to you that you are not an atheist. "
26:24 He said: "That's impossible... I'm an atheist. "
26:27 I said: "Let me ask you a question. "
26:29 I said: "From the day that you were born did you ever
26:32 sink to your knees and say 'Dear God,
26:34 if You exist reveal Yourself to me?
26:37 I need... You owe that to me as my Creator.
26:40 Before I leave this world You owe that revelation to me. ' "
26:43 I said: "Did you ever from since you were born
26:46 give Him an honest clear shot at your life? "
26:49 He said: "No, I have never done that. "
26:52 The train pulled in. We boarded the train
26:55 and for the rest of the time from Brooklyn into the Bronx
26:58 he stood there holding on to the handle of the train
27:02 staring at me, peering through the window
27:05 wrestling with that disturbing question:
27:08 "No, I've never really given Him a honest shot at my life. "
27:12 There are countless number of hearers out there today
27:14 who have never given Jesus a chance
27:17 for the ultimate encounter.
27:21 You need to think about that.
27:23 Yes. Give God a honest shot at your life.
27:26 Yes. God bless you. Thank you so much.
27:28 Thank you so much for sharing that with us.
27:31 Thank you for just giving us your journey.
27:35 It's been such a rich testimony.
27:37 We really appreciate it.
27:39 Well, that's the end of our program for today.
27:42 We sincerely hope that you ex- perience the ultimate encounter.
27:46 Thanks for tuning in. Join us next time
27:48 'cause you know what? It just wouldn't be the same
27:51 without you.


Revised 2023-10-12