hen I was in elementary school, many of my summers were spent at Columbia International
University. My dad, Dr. Rick Martin (2004/2015), was pursuing his master’s degree and thus, my family
migrated down from our home in Virginia to CIU for his summer classes. The campus was a backyard dream
for me and my siblings.
One of my sisters learned how to ride a bike with no training wheels down one of the hills on campus, and
playing in the student center and the gym made me feel like I was in college. That was a big deal for an
eight-year-old. We learned very quickly about red (fire) ants, and were fascinated by the lizards roaming
We would stop and buy a watermelon from the “watermelon man” down the road, and my mom would take
us to Lake Murray for countless hours. Because we were from a small town, Columbia was the first place we
had Chick-fil-A. That’s important enough of a discovery to be mentioned, amen?
Needless to say, CIU claims a dear corner in my heart when I reminisce on childhood memories. I remember
going to the library daily and pouring over the children’s biographies of missionaries like Amy Carmichael
and Jim and Elisabeth Elliot and Gladys Aylward and dreaming that one day maybe God would use me like
that, too. “To know Him and make Him known” became engrained in my heart as I rode my bike around
campus at least five times each day and saw the CIU motto everywhere. I’ll always remember breathing in
deeply the full and fragrant blossoms of the crepe myrtles lining CIU’s paths.
By Abi Martin Marrah
The culmination of
a summer love that
began at CIU.