I wrote it because I want to share with others the hope God gives once we place our faith and trust in Him. I was so lost and confused most of my life, strung out on drugs, alcohol, and rebellion. Once I accepted Jesus Christ into my life as Lord and Savior I was totally changed. He was what I was searching for all of my life. Once He touched me, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops that if He can change me, He can change anyone. Therefore, my book became the vehicle for me to use to tell this to others.
Tyler: Would you share with our readers what were the circumstances surrounding your conversion?
Marty: I worked in the entertainment business working mainly with rock ‘n’ roll musicians, disc jockeys, and television production. https://www.nosmarty.net/ I thought I found the key to life by feeding my ego through the notoriety of being a celebrity, making loads of money, and spending it on the “high life.”
Back in the 1960s, substance abuse was just rearing its ugly head and not many of us were suffering any immediate consequences. We were learning by trial and error. Even when a rock musician or band was busted for drugs, it almost enhanced one’s popularity. There was a large gap between straight people and substance abusers. This made it even harder to detach oneself from a rebellious lifestyle because we thought there was not much the “straight life” had to offer. I never dreamed I would have to pay a dear price for my lifestyle. However, once I started suffering pain and heartache I began to question myself and sought for another way. I never thought “that other way” would lead me to a head-on encounter with the loving and forgiving God of creation.
Drugs and partying were not filling the void created by not having a personal relationship with God. I had to reach my ultimate bottom to finally cry out to Him for help. It was not until I was facing a long prison sentence for cocaine possession that I finally realized how lost I really was. Once I placed my hand in His, my whole life changed.
Tyler: Marty, after reading your book, I was struck by the fact that you had a Catholic upbringing, served as an altar boy, and even played as a child at being a priest. What happened that led you from being a relatively pious child to someone involved in the music industry and drugs?
Marty: Good question, Tyler. I have asked myself that many times. I am sure there are thousands of people out there who ask themselves the same question especially when they get themselves in trouble or an uncontrollable situation. How many times have we heard from a concerned parent, “My son/daughter was such a good person? He/she would never do such a thing.” We all would like to go back in our pasts and change something in one manner or another. Unfortunately, we cannot. We are stuck with our pasts, whether we like it or not. The problem a lot of us face is we cannot move out of our pasts into the present, the Now! I meet hundreds of prison inmates and substance abusers who feel the present is too painful to deal with so they get stuck never letting go of their pasts; therefore, their present is influenced negatively.
I say all of that to say this…. I have learned the hard way that religion does not save anyone, either Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, Muslin, etc. Whatever we were taught as children may or may not be right. What I found out much later in my life when my back was against the wall and searching for truth was the religion I was born into had a form of godliness but denied the power within it. My religion did not nor could not change me. In fact, I learned by experience that most of the doctrines, dogmas, and creeds I was taught could not even be found in the Bible! It was only after asking Jesus Christ to personally come into my life as Lord and Savior that His Spirit entered me. This happened in a farmhouse and not in a huge religious cathedral. I am not saying God is not in buildings; however, I believe He is everywhere. He is the God of His entire and glorious Universe.
My quest for success in the music business was only a way for me to find some kind of happiness in life. Music was the only thing I ever liked or enjoyed. Drugs were just a way for me to fill the void in my life that was missing because of the lack of the Spirit of God being in me.
Tyler: Since your conversion, you have become very active in numerous ministries. Would you tell our readers a little bit about your current life and the ministries you are involved with?
Marty: My life today is spent speaking in prisons, jails, and substance abuse rehabs all over the country. I send out free cases of my books to facilities where people are paying a heavy price for leading out of control lives. I then follow up with personal appearances, written correspondence, and resource referrals.
Once I was released from prison, I was led to Faith Farm Ministries in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where I worked with over 350 substance abusers who were there for spiritual and physical assistance. One year later, God opened a door for me to work for Teen Challenge of Southern California, then onwards to working with ex-White House aide Charles Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries in Washington DC. I also helped start one of the first faith based “boot camps” in the country in Palm Beach County Florida called the Sheriff’s Drug Farm.
Tyler: Marty, in the book you talk about your prison ministry as being about bringing people to Christ, but also helping prisoners with the practical side of life by offering Life Action Planning Seminars. Would you tell us a little bit about this side of your work and why it is important?
Marty: I found that many Christians who minister in prison want to just preach to the inmates. They do not take into consideration that eventually inmates are released and have a ton of needs, both physical and spiritual. Many churches are horrified at the thought of a prison inmate showing up on their doorsteps, and not knowing how to deal with them.
By helping identify inmate’s needs before their release is important. Prisoners become institutionalized very quickly and making decisions are rare. Many inmates actually block out life on the streets altogether, pretending instead to live in the prison world fulltime and placing the real world on hold. Therefore, trying to make release plans is difficult. Many inmates are in for a big surprise if they do not formulate a plan while they are in prison for their life on the streets. National statistics show three out four ex-offenders are re-arrested within three years. Here in the State of California it is worse: Over 82% of ex-prisoners return to prison within only one year!
Tyler: Wow, Marty. That makes your ministry sound very important and covering an overlooked need. These people, like you did, are starting their lives over again. Is that why you chose the title “Once Life Matters: A New Beginning”?