Continually bearing a smile wherever you see him and a hearty laugh whenever he jokes, one can effortlessly ascertain the joy that emanates from this man’s heart. But, it is no ordinary happiness that you will discover once you become engaged in a conversation with him for you will soon determine that everything springs from his profound love for Jesus and in tirelessly serving Him.
Pastor Martino Papiona Cortan, or Pastor Mar as he is fondly called by all brethren - is highly esteemed in the Oasis Pentecostal International Fellowship, Inc. or OPIF, whose last position held was Chairman of the Board of Directors (BOD). He is someone who has always been an abundant source of knowledge regarding Christian life, a far cry from someone who first believed that Apostolic Born Again Christians are mere members of a religious sect.
He was born in Catbalogan, Samar on August 14, 1958 to parents Alejandro and Hilaria and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1981. Pastor Mar is happily married to his sister wife of 36 years, Nelly Castejon Cortan and is blessed with children Roxanne, Mar Anthony and Mark Israel, three in laws and five grandchildren.
It was in Bataan Nuclear Power Plant around 1984, where Pastor Mar worked as a Field Engineer, when he first heard the word of God. He voluntarily joined the Bible studies during lunch breaks not knowing from which religious organization the leader belongs. Then, it was in 1986, in Middle East, when the Apostolic Doctrine was first shared to him by an Indian national named Joseph Phillip who is now also a Pastor. From then on, he became highly interested in knowing more about God, thereby, reading the Bible on every opportunity he could.
He accepted Jesus as his personal Savior and was baptized in water in the Name of Jesus Christ on December 4, 1987, a year after his first entry to Middle East, as supplied Piping Engineer in one of the prestigious companies all throughout Gulf in which only one year later he became directly hired.
“Overjoyed” is how he remembers his experience of the Holy Ghost baptism which happened two years after. He said that during his first year in OPIF, formerly called OASIS, he was always eager to attend Church related activities.
Life became beyond meaningful for Pastor Mar, knowing that Jesus changed his life as he became His new creation 2 Corinthians 5:17, Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold old things are become new. He further grew in knowing more about Jesus and significantly learned the value of life after death. He became deeply motivated in understanding well the calling that God gave him and persevered to serve Him more and propagate His Word. A demonstration of that were the diverse ministries he held over the years.
Starting in the Transportation Ministry for five years, he proceeded to become a Treasurer for another five years, Deputy Overseer for several years and then such time came for him to be appointed by God as then OASIS’ Overseer. He also became an official Adviser, proceeding to become BOD’s Vice Chairman and to finally hold the position of Chairman, the last position he held before his retirement this year.
As in the case of some other countries, retirement is imminent for those who have reached the age of 60 therefore after 33 years; September 1 marked the last day for Pastor Mar in the Gulf. When asked about his plans, he gladly answered that he will still be active in the ministry of God, supporting OPIF, and that his cumulative experiences within 33 years are more than enough to prepare him for the coming years. He further reiterated that when he started serving God in His ministries, he knew then that there was no turning back and that there was nothing he regretted doing or not, for he firmly believes that everything happens for a reason.
Asked what prompted him to answer the call of God in the ministries he served from Transportation to being BOD’s Chairman, Pastor Mar said, he saw the need of leadership in the growing ministry. He further added that it was because of his love for JESUS and His church, and also the desire in his heart to lead the OPIF brethren. He echoed the importance of setting goals in one’s ministry, adding that for him, his goal was to train and equip all brethren to be used in God’s continuously growing vineyard.
What serves as one of GOD’s reminder to him to remain steadfast in pleasing God in everything that he does and do everything wholeheartedly for the LORD is his favorite Bible verse, Colossians 3:23-24; (23) And whatever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not unto men; (24) Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance for ye serve the Lord Christ.
True to their dedication in serving the LORD, his whole family is all adamant in proclaiming the Word of God one way or another. Eldest daughter Roxanne currently serves as the Home Mission Director of OPIF Sector 1, San Mateo Rizal. Youngest son is also a servant of God in Norway and the middle child, just like his father, is also a Pastor.
Being steadfast in the service of God did not exempt him and his family from experiencing some adversities in the course of his Christian life, but it was during those times that he felt the immense power of God moving around him and his loved ones. A man of lesser faith may easily succumb to the varied difficulties in life especially, if they are directed at one member of his immediate family. When such predicament occurs, that is when a faithful servant of GOD is most humbled knowing that only a divine intervention could help him surpass this hurdle. And this was the case in one overwhelming event in his life that he felt God’s colossal power that cannot be contained nor surpassed by any human mediation.
Two years ago, Sister Nelly became critically ill due to pulmonary embolism and had to be confined in the Intensive Care Unit for quite a while. Sometime during her confinement, Pastor Mar was asked by the doctors to make a decision for approval of an intricate procedure that had to be done for his wife - a procedure which could either save her or cause further damage due to brain hemorrhage. Entrusting everything to God whom he knows makes all impossible things possible. Sister Nelly was then readied for the hospital transfer to perform the procedure. Then a miracle happened! It was at this time that he was suddenly informed by his son Pastor Mar Anthony that the LORD clearly spoke to him during his prayer saying that there was no need for the challenging procedure to be done. Further evidence to that are the results of all the medical examinations they timely received that day which prove Sister Nelly’s condition was better and she will shortly be on her way to recovery with only the oral medications to help her thru. This overwhelming experience of God’s miracle, amongst many other answered prayers, further sealed Pastor Mar’s testimony of God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience. Such is the power of God for those who truly have faith in Him!
And this unwavering faith from the time that he was baptized was the very foundation of his vision of expanding God’s ministry not only in the Middle East but to the other parts of the world, particularly in the Philippines.
Being one of the pillars of OPIF, Inc., Pastor Mar has this vision to share with all and await the momentous occasion when it becomes a reality. This man who sees himself as a Barnabas - a man used by God as an encourager, has a deep sense of concern for the lost souls. He justifiably believes that thoughtfulness should be practiced in words around new brethren, thereby, not alienating them but mentoring them more on how to develop a deeper relationship with our Creator.
In five to ten years from now, he envisions more churches to be established not only in the Philippines but in other parts of the world. He also perceives a Bible School and a continuous growth of God’s church in the coming years. Such vision may have been implausible for others but for this Pastor who is a living testimony of God’s countless miracles, he knows that in God’s perfect time everything will be established.
Asked to unselfishly share some words of encouragement, these he had to say:
“To spend more time with God and His church, join an apostolic fellowship and get to know more about Him” is what he would like to convey to those who are new in the kingdom. He adds that for those who are newly baptized, they should earnestly desire the Holy Ghost baptism and to continue steadfastly in serving the Lord.
“Keep the fire burning!” is what our beloved Pastor wants to impart to those who have been in the ministry for five years and more. Knowing the rough roads that some brethren may journey on, he firmly declares that this is the most crucial ingredient in finishing the race. He reminds all to have a vision in their own ministry, desire more of God and never lose the excitement in communing with Him.
Queried how he will answer if God questions him how he lived his life up until this moment, Pastor Mar joyfully answered, “I served God faithfully and still desire to do so as long as I live!”
This is Pastor Martino Papiano Cortan. A man duly anointed by God to serve Him and his fellow brethren. A man who simply describes himself as driven, optimistic and joyful. Pastor Mar is all these and much more!