My name is Joe LaGuardia, and I served at Marti’s and Nina’s church, Trinity Baptist Church, in Georgia, from 2004 – 2016.
Marti was and will always be “my Deacon.”
The first time I got to know Marti well was when we were painting one of the Trinity preschool rooms (the one closest to the back door) together. She told me about her family, her past and her ministry. She told me about her love for the Lord and her extensive knowledge of the Bible. I remember being impressed with her memorization of the Bible, and I thought that she really needed more opportunities to serve at Trinity, especially in leadership.
After that day, I leaned on Marti for many things, including ministry in the community and to others. She was available many times, and she’d bring Nina along on projects that we had going on at the church and off campus. She helped us in some construction, and she served as a consultant too!
She became a friend during that time, and I’d call her and Aunt Phyllis for all kinds of things. It was about that time that the congregation of Trinity Baptist nominated and commissioned her to be a deacon.
Marti’s love for others was inclusive and knew no boundaries. She best reflected the love that Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians 13, and her love allowed her to be a deacon not only at Trinity, but to friends across the southeast—from the mountains of Virginia and beyond. She and her family at that time led various forms of worship on retreats, for people she entertained at the house, and at services at Trinity.
Not everyone was kind to Marti. In some ways she faced discrimination and abuse, but she did everything she could to protect her faith and her family, and to provide for them. Our church rallied around her, and we saw God’s faithfulness in helping us be as loving as she was. We were insistent that “no weapon formed against her shall prosper.”
When the time came, I asked Marti to be my family’s deacon too. She was no longer just “Marti.” She was “Deacon” or “Deacon Marti” because I learned so much from her, and she challenged me to grow in Christ. When you see Marti–just remember: That’s My Deacon!!
In 2011, we asked her to be part of a task force to bring vision-casting and revitalization to Trinity Baptist Church. Much of the language in the current vision, mission, and core values statement at Trinity Baptist Church–to this day–has her fingerprints all over it!
Our whole family—Kristina, Haleigh, Hayden, and my mother, Fran—sends our condolences. Personally I can’t wait to see Marti again in heaven. I’m sure we’ll paint one of those rooms God has prepared for us in His mansion (John 14:1-6), and we’ll take a break. We’ll lean against that old, red Pontiac Firebird for old time’s sake. She’ll smoke a cigarette, and I’ll shoot the breeze and complain about some curmudgeon I ran into in town. And we will celebrate God’s love together all over again.
We love you and we will miss you, Deacon!