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Why the Martins Split Up for Years—And How God Brought Them Back Together

The Martins

Judy Martin Hess (left), Jonathan Martin (middle), and Joyce Martin Sanders (right) perform as the Martins trio. (Source: Facebook)

Maintaining unity is hard for many families, even for Christians. But perhaps it’s been even harder in the last year.

Is this intensified struggle yet another tool of the enemy to derail God’s plan for families? Or is it simply a result of last year’s lockdowns keeping families in close proximity for long periods of time—with more temptation to get irritated with each other? Maybe both.

Perhaps your own family has been dealing with extra tension and disunity lately.

If that’s the case, Judy Martin Hess of the Martins trio says those rough moments of division, arguments, and hurt feelings don’t have to spell doom for your family.

As the youngest of the three siblings, Judy knows what it’s like to feel frustrated with family members. In fact, she says her own family’s squabbles got increasingly bad to the point that she and her siblings, Jonathan and Joyce, went their separate ways for several years.

Judy says the tension didn’t spring up overnight. She went through personal struggles with depression in her early 20s, which she has since gotten help for. Several years later, when Jonathan and Joyce began dealing with struggles of their own, “the wheels started coming loose and falling off,” as Judy puts it.

“Finally, things kind of imploded and we ended up coming off the road and moving away from each other,” she recalls. “For about three and a half years, at least two years, we didn’t talk to each other—hardly at all.”

Even though the three siblings wished each other well, the unity they once had simply wasn’t there anymore. It seemed as though the Martins’ days of singing as a group were over.

But God had different plans.

God's Plan for Family Reconciliation

Several music groups, including Legacy 5 and Mark Lowry, asked the Martins to sing at their events. At first, the Martins thought, No way! But after talking with each other about it, they agreed to do a few songs together.

Those few performances turned into many. Eventually, the more they sang and worked together, the more the Martin siblings got to a point where their relationships could truly heal.

“Even though we felt like we weren’t at a place of being worthy to be used, God still used the talent and the gift He had given us to bless people,” she says. “And it kind of humbled all three of us and made us go, ‘Hm, this is a lot less about us and a lot more about God.’”

Things were still tense among the three siblings for a while, but each baby step they took toward reconciliation was a spiritual success. They continued to work together to the point that, before COVID-19 hit, they had practically restored their previous professional growth.

But even more importantly, their healing journey made their music so much more powerful—to those listening and to themselves.

“Even though we’ve always believed what we’ve sung, now it’s deeper,” she says. “We believe it with so much more conviction because we haven’t just sung about it. Now, we’ve lived it, and we can trust it with our whole heart.”

Advice for Christian Families

If your family is struggling to be unified and if you keep butting heads with the same family member, Judy says the solution might not be as complicated as you think.

“God made all of us so different and then put us in the same pot so that we would fit together and it would all work together so much better,” she says. “If we learn how to communicate with each other and encourage the differences, we can do so much more and reach so many different people.”

Judy hopes Christian families will enjoy some bonding time at the upcoming 40 Days and Nights of Gospel Music at the Ark Encounter. With over a month of Gospel music, powerful preaching, and fun activities at the themed attraction, families are bound to have meaningful quality time!

Click here for more information or to purchase your tickets.