Growing up, Kathy Martin always wanted to be a flight attendant. Her plans for a dream career took a detour, however, when Martin decided to study archaeology in college.
“It was a real ‘women’s lib’ time and you didn’t want to say that you wanted to be a stewardess,” Martin said, “so I studied archaeology and worked for the state of New Mexico as an archeologist. But in my heart I always wanted to work for the airlines.”
When she turned 28, Martin decided to follow her childhood dream and became a flight attendant for Jet America, a move that came shortly after another big change in her life – her decision to become a follower of Jesus Christ.
“People at Jet America were praying for me and knew I needed to be discipled, but I didn’t really know what that meant,” Martin said.
Martin’s deepening interest in the Bible and the prayers of her colleagues led her to Calvary Chapel and eventually Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., where she became involved in the children’s ministry and in leading mission trips to Argentina.
During one of those trips to Argentina, Martin had the opportunity to teach adults and share the gospel with them. When she returned, Martin realized she had a growing desire to teach and decided that she needed to learn more about the gospel.
At the same time, Martin picked up a pamphlet at church about Rockbridge Seminary. After talking with friends that were also studying online, Martin decided that Rockbridge would be a good fit for her and applied right away.
“God’s given me this real hunger to teach the gospel, and that’s what drew me to go to Rockbridge,” Martin said.
Martin admitted that balancing her studies at Rockbridge and a full-time job as a flight attendant was a challenge. By the time she started pursuing her Master of Ministry Leadership degree, Martin was working for Alaskan Airlines and based in Laguna Niguel, Calif. She also noted that she probably would not have been able to earn a seminary degree if she had not been allowed the flexibility of studying online.
“I took my laptop when I would fly [and] studied a lot on my layovers in hotels and in airports where they had Wi-Fi and at Starbucks,” Martin said. “Then at home I would block out huge amounts of time, usually in the morning, to study.”
Those early morning study sessions and two years of going deeper into the Word of God left Martin thankful for how she matured and grew spiritually during her time at Rockbridge.
“I remember reading the first question of my first class and I didn’t understand it,” Martin said. “I thought, ‘God, what am I doing?’ I just prayed ‘Lord, work through me, through this whole thing,’ and God came alongside me and gave me the insight and wisdom and courage to do it.
“Because of Rockbridge, I realized that if God calls you to an assignment that’s God-sized, it’s always something you don’t think you can do within your [own] capability. I’ve learned that if it’s not like that, then it’s not from him, because he truly wants me to lean on him. He wants to do God-sized things through your life.”
Through the online classes and chat groups and discussions, Martin found encouragement to work through any academic challenges. But she also made new friends in her fellow classmates at Rockbridge, even though she did not meet them in person until their graduation.
“I felt very much like I was able to get to know people because we were communicating so much,” Martin said. “Everyone had to participate so there was no way someone could dominate the class. I really felt it was a privilege to have access to [so many] talented people.”
Martin not only saw new relationships form during her time with Rockbridge, but she saw old friendships strengthened and new opportunities to teach and share the gospel. Now, when Martin tells of her love for her job as a flight attendant, she also speaks to the joy she has in reaching out to her colleagues.
“I was nervous that I would lose friendships because I didn’t have time to be with them that much,” Martin said, “but it did the opposite. They showed me so much respect and honor because they saw me do something that they thought was impossible to do.”
In January Martin started a Bible study for her colleagues at Alaska Airlines that meets in her home twice a month and keeps a flight attendant-friendly schedule. Some of her colleagues also attended her Rockbridge graduation in June of 2007.
“I really see the value of somebody going to Rockbridge and working in the marketplace,” Martin said, “because your character changes and you become more like Christ. People really respect [that] and they trust you more because they see that you have discipline and faithfulness.
“[Rockbridge] gives you the training and the confidence to believe that every member is a minister. People can stay in their jobs and be ministers in the marketplace with more effectiveness if they have a tool like [Rockbridge] behind them.”
(Written by Allison Cox)