hen the Rev. Martin Jones received a phone call last November from the Evangelical Free Church of Sycamore-DeKalb, he knew it was all part of God’s plan for him.
The call was to inform Jones he had been selected to be the church’s new lead pastor, a position he was thrilled to accept.
This past New Year’s Eve, he and his family moved from Dallas to DeKalb. The next day, he began his role as lead pastor at E-Free, located at 150 Bethany Road in DeKalb.
Originally from a small community northwest of Manchester, England, Jones spent 11 years as an attorney practicing corporate law in the United Kingdom. But, he believed God had other plans in store for him.
“God had made it very clear to me that he wanted me to do something else,” he said.
While practicing law, Jones said God had given him several signs that pointed to his future as a full-time minister.
Though many people from his church in the UK often encouraged him to pursue preaching, Jones said the ultimate sign from God came to him while reading a book. As he was reading through the inside cover, Jones came across the Southwestern Seminary, a place he thought was in Dallas.
After doing a bit of online research, Jones later discovered Dallas was actually home to the Dallas Theological Seminary. He continued to read about the seminary’s theology program and immediately felt God calling him to this place.
“I knew with absolute certainty that that’s where I needed to go,” he said.
In 2007, Jones and his family moved more than 4,500 miles across the world so he could pursue his preaching ministry. After four years, Jones earned a Master of Theology and was ready to begin his pastoral work.
Jones eventually began talking with the pastoral search team at the Evangelical Free Church in DeKalb, expressing his interest in a position there.
The church set up a weekend last November during which a committee among the congregation got to know him better through a series of interviews. Upon visiting E-Free, Jones said he and his family could visualize themselves as a part of the church in the near future.
“We felt this is somewhere God might be calling us,” he said.
While Jones was flying back home to Dallas, the church’s selection committee was voting on who would be their new lead pastor. As soon as he turned on his cell phone, Jones had a message waiting for him. They had chosen him for the position.
Out of hundreds of applicants, the committee had narrowed the list down to a few potential pastors, including Jones. But, church member JoHannah Reardon said the choice was obvious.
“He rose to the top,” she said. “The church voted him in by a very high percentage.”
Jones felt everything was falling into place. He and his family were able to sell their house and move to DeKalb within weeks.
“It’s incredible to sit back and see God at work,” he said.
Jones said he is settling into his new role at E-Free wonderfully. He led his first Sunday service Jan. 6 among a congregation of more than 300 people who have welcomed him with great enthusiasm.
Paul Rogers, E-Free’s pastor of worship and music, said he is especially pleased with Jones and his preaching ideals.
“He’s been very challenging in his sermons, and very much application-oriented in how he tries to bring home the message to each one of us on a practical level,” he said.
Jones views his philosophy as contemporary. He said he works to communicate the truth of the Bible and encourages others to apply this truth to their 21st-century lives.
“As a pastor, I want people to see how relevant God is,” he said. “God has always been relevant.”
Jones feels he is always on a mission to communicate to people the significant role Jesus can play in their lives.
Another person who plays a significant role in Jones’ life is his wife, Fiona. Throughout his journey, Jones said Fiona and their two children, Nathan and Olivia, have been incredibly supportive. Though moving halfway across the world might have been difficult for some, Jones said his family is enjoying the United States and their transition to DeKalb.
As for E-Free, both Jones and the church’s members are excited and optimistic about God’s plans for the future.
Jones said he hopes to see growth within the church, not only in numbers, but spiritually, as well. These are changes Jones believes have already begun.
“We are really entering a new stage of ministry,” he said. “The church is starting to look and feel a little bit different. This is a new chapter for us.”