David Martinez is the director of Mission and Ministry at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital on the south side of Denver. “That title sounds so official,” he’s quick to say. “I’m really just a chaplain at heart.”

David’s heart of simple service led him from pulpit to classroom to battlefield to the hospital where he now serves.

David graduated from Southwestern Adventist University with degrees in history and Spanish and a minor in religion. He intended to teach, but soon felt called to pastoral ministry and entered the Master’s of Divinity program at Andrews University.

Over the next six years he served in various roles—pastor, teacher and even missionary to a Navajo tribe. His life changed course one day when he heard a presentation by Dick Stenbakken, then a high-ranking chaplain in the U.S. military as well as the Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries director for the North American Division. As David listened, he felt a stirring in his heart to become a military chaplain. With Stenbakken’s help, David gained acceptance into the Air Force as an officer, and his military chaplaincy career was underway.

For 12 great years David served as an Air Force chaplain. During that time two sons, Matthew and Mark, joined David and his wife, Kathy. Eventually, he was deployed to Qatar and Iraq, where he experienced the stresses and challenges of the battlefield. It was hard being far away from his young family.

At the end of his tour of duty in the Middle East, David retired from the Air Force and relocated his family to the Denver area to be closer to his father, brother and sister. There God opened the door for him to once again serve as a pastor. Then one day David got a call from the CEO of the new Adventist Hospital in Castle Rock with a new invitation to serve. He joyfully accepted.

David’s current post is a perfect fit for his interests and abilities. David is especially focused on healthful living, and the program at Castle Rock is built around the CREATION Health model. This affords him unique opportunities to share his vision for health and wellness with others.

“Extending the healing ministry of Christ is more than just words on the wall,” says David of the hospital’s stated mission. “It’s the reason we come to work each day.”

Whether he is sharing hope with a patient who is dying, or praying with a family who is suffering from the loss of a loved one, David feels like being a hospital chaplain is akin to being on the front lines of a battlefield.

“Every day I have special opportunities to pray with people who are sick and hurting—to share what makes us unique as Seventh-day Adventists and to encourage people to live healthier lives,” he shares.

David’s vision for service reaches beyond the bricks and mortar of Castle Rock Adventist Hospital. He actively participates in the local pastoral association and finds many opportunities to use the CREATION Health program to share God’s plan for whole-person health with the local community. He is especially excited that the city of Castle Rock, in conjunction with the hospital, has embraced the vision to become a Blue Zone community where healthy lifestyle choices allow residents to live longer, more complete lives.

Wherever he serves, David’s greatest wish, like David of old, is to be “a man after God’s own heart.” That is, after all, the ultimate vision for health and wellness. It’s a vision David lives with contagious enthusiasm in Castle Rock.

This article was submitted by Stephen King, senior vice president for the Rocky Mountain Adventist Health/Centura Health, where he serves the five Adventist hospital campuses in Colorado. It was also published in the November 2014 print edition of OUTLOOK. The author, Mark Bond, is communication director for the Rocky Mountain Conference. Photo by Mark Bond.