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July 2021

Crisis Center director draws on experience

Poet Alfred Lord Tennyson once wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met,” and that sentiment perfectly sums up the life of Dr. Heather Martinez. After years of various experiences, Heather came back to Plainview in late November 2020 as executive director of Crisis Center of the Plains, a nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

It is a work that requires passion, varied skills and an empathetic heart. Fortunately for Heather, she has all three.

“I come here every day with the idea of how can I be of service, whether it’s to my staff or to the community or to victims. How can I use my skills and abilities to be of service and always to advance the kingdom, because that’s why I’m here,” says Heather, who earned her bachelor’s

Heather Martinez at Crisis Center
Heather Martinez at the Center

degree in business in 2000 and a MBA in management from the Lubbock campus in 2004.

Heather’s story with Wayland actually started with her parents, who announced their intention to return to college just as Heather was preparing to leave for her first year at a nearby state school. Living in Plainview at the time, Joe and Elizabeth Hernandez had chosen to go to Wayland, so the three started their collegiate journeys together.

Change of direction

A few years in, Heather made the decision to head back to Plainview and join her parents on the WBU campus.

“I needed something a little more focused on my emotional and spiritual needs. My parents suggested I consider coming to Wayland. My mom was employed here at the time, so it was an all-around great situation,” she recalled. “I transferred into the business school was so lucky to get involved with it when I did. Dr. Benjamin Akande was dean at the time, and I found a position in his office as a student.

“I fell in love with the university, the atmosphere and the relationship that professors had with students. I loved the way the university ministered to your soul and your heart.”

Heather and her mother graduated together in 2000, while Joe finished in 1998. Both of the Hernandezes went into public school teaching, and they returned together to earn the Master of Arts in Counseling in 2007 and move into school counseling. Joe passed away in 2011, but Elizabeth is still working locally.

Change of heart

Armed with her first degree, Heather headed to Lubbock and jumped into a variety of careers in higher education, economic development and the municipality. She decided to work on a doctorate at Texas Tech, thinking higher education leadership might be a future path. Then she came to a spiritual crossroads that altered her thinking.

“It’s interesting how purposeful God can be in our lives. If we are not listening to His voice and guidance, we tend to force open doors in our career and lives that don’t need to be opened. I spent a lot of time in my younger years doing that,” says Heather, whose son Zachariah is 16. “That’s not

Hotline poster
Hotline poster

to say He didn’t use me in those roles but there was always this thread of dissatisfaction. It changed when I re-centered my walk with Christ, humbled myself and said, ‘I want to do whatever it is you want me to do. Take this education and skill set you have given me and put me where you need me to be.’

“What I didn’t anticipate is that it would be a few different places over the course of a few years. God’s will often is to use you for others. Your experience is not necessarily your own; it becomes your testimony to be of aid to others.”

Heather was working for the state department of health services when she began to wonder what was next. A friend sent her the job posting for the Crisis Center based in Plainview but serving seven counties and she began to pray over the opportunity. While it was unlike anything she had done before, her life and work experiences had prepared her for the change.

“Before this happened, I was a victim of domestic violence and in a very abusive relationship. I was ending that relationship and trying to figure out as a single mom what God wanted for me and why this happened, praying and asking Him where He wanted me to be,” she recalled. “I woke up one morning and had this peace that I was supposed to reach out and apply for the job.”

Change of scenery

In her new role, Heather oversees the administrative center that provides leadership and advocacy services for victims in the form of direct assistance, counseling and the like. The center has a safe home in Plainview that provides a safe place for victims leaving violence situations and includes programming to help men and women rebuild their lives beyond their trauma.

The Crisis Center also runs the Broadway Treasures thrift store in downtown Plainview. The store accepts donations of all clothing, housewares and furniture, toys and other items and are able to use the proceeds to fund more of the crisis center’s efforts. In addition, their inventory is open to victims needing to set up a home or even just to have clothing to wear.

Heather believes her past experiences are serving her well as she seeks the best way to help victims

Heather Martinez
Heather Martinez

as well as grow the organization that helps so many people. In particular, she sees her role as helping the Crisis Center stay vibrant while shifting the strategic vision somewhat.

“We all know the work we do and how to do it, but are we doing a good enough job of educating others on how to recognize domestic violence and what to do in that case, how to report, how to offer assistance?” she notes. “We want to make sure as an organization we are training and educating the community that if you come across this situation here are some key things you can do. Our current plan is creating this army of advocates.”

Changing the landscape

Heather said the patterns of domestic violence – while certainly nothing new in any community – have seen some changes thanks to the pandemic. Like many organizations around the country, the Crisis Center saw their reporting of violence drop as abuse victims were now stuck at home with their abusers. While some may have been planning to escape, job loss and economic hardship made that impossible for many. They just stayed. The Crisis Center did not close, but they worked hard to encourage victims to reach out for help despite the different, difficult circumstances.

Now that things are reopening and life is getting somewhat back to normal, Heather says the center expected their calls to pick back up. That hasn’t happened yet. They believe the economic stimulus packages and tax refunds brought temporary relief from the financial woes that often escalate violence situations. They also believe victims in the small communities served by the Crisis Center

Sorting donations

Kasey organizes donations at

the Broadway Treasures store.

face additional challenges since many residents know everyone – including law enforcement – and are afraid that familiarity will work against them if they try to leave.

Heather believes as the economic situation returns to normal, they will see more women and men reaching out for help. Her staff is ready and willing to listen and provide solutions and resources to move forward, heal and break the cycle of violence.

“You never get over your trauma but you learn to cope with your trauma. Just being able to say ‘I understand’ and validate what they are going through has helped me in so many ways,” says Heather. “It’s weird to say we want our numbers to go up in this line of work because we don’t; what we’re really trying to say is we want to reach as many victims as possible and empower them. Research tells us that most women and men... will return to their abusers a minimum of seven times before they leave permanently… the ones who are lucky enough to leave permanently.

“So how can we shorten and decrease that? I don’t think we’ll ever make it go away totally but it’s a two-sided coin: we are empowering the victims and helping them but we also have to make sure we are actively engaged in addressing the abusers and are supporting programs that are addressing how we reduce the number of abusers. It is cyclical.”


Minister finds silver lining amid challenges

Things had been trucking along pretty good for Rev. Kaury Edwards in his pastorate at Wesleyan Heights United Methodist Church in Owensboro, Ken. He was in his fifth year of leadership, working toward his doctorate at Duke Divinity School and loving life with his wife, Ashley, and son Beckham.

“The church I pastor averages about 150 on Sunday mornings. We’re not ginormous but we’re not itty bitty,” noted Kaury, a 2009 graduate of Wayland. “We’re in a town of about 70,000, and we’re the second largest Methodist church in town. We are right across from the university (Kentucky Wesleyan), and we’re seen as the academic progressive church in town with a lot of the professors coming here from the university.”

Then in March 2020, a global pandemic burst onto the scene, changing the way Kaury and his flock

Edwards at Duke graduation
Kaury in his doctoral regalia at Duke.

did church for the foreseeable future. Everything changed on March 22, when their typical, blended church services became a one-man show on social media for the first time in the church’s history.

“We’re one of those churches that should have been livestreaming way before COVID but we weren’t. There are a lot of reasons but mainly we just had never been pushed to pull the trigger on it,” he said of the sudden change. “We have great A/V in the sanctuary because the money had been given for it. But there was no push to get virtual worship going.”

The push had arrived. But with literally a few days’ notice from the Bishop suggesting strongly that in-person services be cancelled for the safety of church members, there was no time for elaborate plans.

“So the first Sunday of COVID, it was literally me in the sanctuary with an iPhone on a tripod and pressing play,” he said with a laugh. “The only option I knew of was Facebook Live. That first Sunday was just me without any worship people. We had no music or anything.”

The COVID pivot

After two weeks of that format – basically a prayer, liturgy and sermon – Kaury reached out to his worship team for help in transforming the virtual service into more of a worshipful experience.

“We started to adapt and innovate and look at ways to move forward under the constraints we were living in,” he said. “We reached out to some tech people in our church about what was the best way to livestream, the best cameras…. And we’re still wrestling with some of that. By that third Sunday we were up and running with a full worship set.”

All these months later, Wesleyan Heights is still going strong with their virtual services on Facebook and on YouTube, though in-person worship resumed briefly in the summer and then more regularly in September 2020. During those months of worship from home, Kaury and his staff had to be creative, much like churches around the world. The monthly communion practices were moved from the church services to a drive-through format using the church’s circular drive, with parishioners dropping by for their prepackaged wafer and grape juice.

“I feel like the sacraments are extremely critical to our foundation and formation; it’s a way to experience God… we call it an outward sign of an inward grace,” notes Kaury of the changes. “On Wednesdays at noon we would traditionally have a time of prayer and communion. (During the shutdown) we stopped the communion aspect but we were meeting on Zoom, and we are having people from all across the country who have connections to our church, so that has been neat.”

Logistically, reopening meant thinking differently about safety and cleanliness issues. Sanitizer stations were placed throughout the church, pews were blocked with painter’s tape and seats marked with an X in tape to distance the congregation who were back to meeting in person. That summer, Kaury says, attendance hovered around 25. As the services opened back up, attendance has continued to grow.

Seeing the good

And while the experience was not enjoyable at all for Kaury or pastors like him whose work involves building relationships with parishioners and being present in times of great joy or sorrow, he has noticed a few silver linings to the dark cloud of 2020.

“For our services last year, we have at least doubled our attendance in the virtual worship setting. We are able to count the people who are watching and engaging for at least 10 minutes or more,” notes Kaury of the positives during COVID. “We’ve also had more salvations in the last six months than in the last four years here. I had two people I went to high school with in Tulia who live in Granbury, Texas, and they accepted Christ through one of our services.”

Kaury said he would encourage virtual guests to reach out via a Facebook message or YouTube comment, an email to the church or even a phone call to report any decisions they made or prayer needs. In the case of new salvations, Kaury then identified a Methodist church in those folks’ community and contact them to get connected and continue their spiritual journey. He says five of the six who have received Christ outside the Owensboro community have made contact with a church in their city.

“To be honest, I’ve become much more evangelistic in my preaching since we’ve gone online and

Kaury and family
Ashley, Kaury and Beckham Edwards

preached more about accepting Jesus because I knew our reach was a lot further. I know who is coming into my church here, but I don’t know who is watching online from week to week. It has shaped my preaching to be more evangelistic,” says Kaury.  

The biggest struggle, according to Kaury, has been the limits on visiting parishioners, especially those in the hospitals that he normally would see almost daily. The constraints have taken a mental toll on pastors, Kaury believes.

“I think most pastors are functioning with a low-grade onset depression. Pastors function with such high empathy anyway, and we have a higher level than other people because we are constantly in people’s life when something wonderful happens or when something tragic happens,” he says. “So we have to be able to walk into these situations and literally sit next to them and be in it with them. For these things to happen that make this impossible, we feel inadequate.”

Kaury noted that churches have felt the struggle financially along with businesses and colleges during the COVID pandemic, and he is hopeful that the damage is not long-term or permanent for some smaller congregations. As church life returns to somewhat normal function in 2021, he is certainly ready to get back to pastoral duties in the more traditional fashion.

“It’s probably been the most difficult time in modern history to be a pastor. It seems like not only COVID-19 is taking the lives of thousands by droves but funerals have been up overall, not just due to COVID,” he said. “It’s putting a financial strain on a lot of people.”

Kaury experienced a bright light amid the finally parting clouds as he got to participate in his doctoral graduation ceremony at Duke on campus in May 2021 with his family by his side. “Rev. Dr. Kaury” is excited to bring a new set of skills and knowledge, along with the perseverance and creativity honed during the pandemic, to his congregation and continue making an impact on the Kingdom.

Wife Ashley, who earned her BA in 2009 alongside her husband, works for US Bank in Owensboro. She is working on an MBA degree from Northern Kentucky. Their son, Beckham, is 8.

Editor's Note: Kaury Edwards' story is one of several that will be shared in a special online supplement to the We Are Wayland magazine dealing with the impact of the COVID pandemic on Wayland and its people. Watch your email for future notices of the publication's availability.


Devotional: Above all, stay faithful

“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?" ~ Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ESV

Throughout my time in ministry, I’ve sat through multiple evaluations from different supervisors. There have been some that went well and included praise for a successful season of work and ministry. But there have been some evaluations that seemed to include more critique than praise, which left me in a state of intense examination.

I would examine myself by recounting crucial conversations, the amount of time and thought put

Hands raised at sunset

into a project, the number of consistent volunteers at services, and much more. At times, I’ve run circles around thoughts that ended up being unfruitful or unhelpful as I prepared for the future. In the end, I had to stand on one question: What are the most important things into which you need to pour your entire self?

In Deuteronomy 10:12-13, we start by reading a question presented to Israel by Moses. Prior to this, Moses provided honest feedback to the Israelites regarding their behavior and actions toward the Lord. They provoked the Lord to anger on multiple occasions, but one of the most memorable moments was worshipping the golden calf. The Lord had made Israel His own through covenant, a people called by His name. Instead of faithfulness they acted hasty in making a handmade god for themselves. But, at this point, Moses asks, “What does the Lord require of you?” and then moves into providing the answers. He states five things that God required of Israel:

  1. Fear the Lord your God
  2. Walk in all His ways
  3. Love Him
  4. Serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul
  5. Keep the commandments of God

Each of these five practices given to Israel are worth our time, thought, and effort. However, if I’m being honest, they seem simple in thought but in real time can be complex in execution. Every believer who loves God would admit that they, because of their love for God, would do whatever they could to practice these things in perfection. Now, we can strive in the practice of these things and can do well. But we cannot reach perfection in these things. So, allow me to present a question: What do we do when we cannot perform perfectly in the things the Lord requires of us?”

The simple and non-complex answer? We trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gone before us and obtained perfection on our behalf, who has nailed condemnation to the cross for those who trust in Him, and set us free from sin and shame. We trust in Jesus.

So what can we do moving forward? My encouragement is that we consider the most important thing - faithfulness to God in the unique calling and opportunities presented to us. Rather than thinking of the workload, consider in this exact moment how you can best imitate the Lord Jesus Christ toward those around you.

JR Dunn is a 2013 graduate of Wayland and has been the director of Baptist Student Ministries since August 2020 after a career in church ministry. He and wife Kelli (West), a 2012 graduate, have one daughter, Lyla, who turns two in September.


From the History Files

This month's history recap continues a series about some of the historic buildings on the main campus in Plainview, where Wayland was founded in 1908.

Van Howeling original
Van Howeling Memorial Library, circa 1957

When it comes to the current landscape of the Plainview campus, perhaps no facility next to Gates Hall has seen more transition than the Van Howeling Education Complex. Alums prior to 1996 may recognize the Van Howeling name but know the building more as the university's original library. 

Situated on the corner of 8th and Quincy Streets just a few hundred yards from Gates Hall, Van Howeling was opened in 1957 as the library with a gift from Mrs. Gertrude Van Howeling in memory of her husband Arie. His photo remains in the building's foyer today. 

Book transfer
Transferring books

When the building was added, the existing library in Gates Hall had to be transported to its new home. The campus 

students and employees all helped move books along to the building in a swift, organized manner, a memorable exercise for many.

Van Howeling remained a library until 1996, when the new Mabee Learning Resources Center that had sat empty for a decade was completed finally and finished out to house the university library along with a biblical resource library, educational library and resource room, computer lab, art gallery and additional study rooms along with a Heritage Room of special memorabilia. 

When it came time to transfer the books to Mabee, the same human chain was employed across the

Van Howeling today
Van Howeling today

campus. At that point, Van Howeling became home to the School of Education, which had previously been housed in a small building off Fifth and Smythe streets on the edge of the campus. This move added much new space to the education program and brought them closer into the campus family.

Today Van Howeling is still home for those studying to become teachers or coaches as well as those

earning athletic training certifications under the Exercise and Sport Science area. The large basement is used for many campus meetings and is home to Wayland's Human Resources offices.