Rev. DR Martin G. Lewis
Rev. Dr. Martin Gwent Lewis was born in the small town of Abertillery, South Wales and raised by his extended family while his father served in the war. At a young age, Martin was reunited with his parents in post-WWII London where he received his formal education at both a primary school and private tutors.
Martin graduated from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital Medical School, University of London, under the leadership of some of the world’s most famous physicians and surgeons. Having lived at the Medical Missionaries Association during his medical school days, it was his intent to serve in Africa as a medical missionary. Instead he was appointed Lecturer in Geographical Pathology by the University of East Africa in Kampala, Uganda with Professor Michael Hutt. It was while in Africa, Martin conducted much of the early original work and research in malignant melanoma. His subsequent research and work in Europe, Australia, the UK, Canada and the USA focused on cancer research, teaching and the study of malignant melanoma and educating students and physicians alike on the general field of geographical pathology.
Dr. Lewis was a founding member of the European Society of Dermatological Research and was Co-Director of the Melanoma Clinic at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal (McGill). Dr. Lewis served as a consultant for the World Health Organization and the VA Medical system in the USA. He was a member of various cancer societies and organizations in Britain, Canada and the USA. Dr. Lewis has served as Department Head Chairman of many prestigious medical schools including McGill, Georgetown, and Loyola. He also served as a Professor for USF Medical School, NOVA Southeastern University and taught residents pathology while serving in various hospitals. Martin currently works as a pathology consultant for Surgical Pathology Labs, Inc. and regularly performs services for dermatologists and plastic surgeons. Martin is a natural storyteller which enhances his teaching style, something he loves most dearly. Since 1986, Martin has served in a ministerial capacity for the United Church of Christ in Florida as a lecturer, preacher and teacher as well as physician in care for hospital and homebound parishioners. He recently retired as Senior Pastor for Chapel on the Hill United Church of Christ in Seminole, Florida.
Rev. Dr. Martin Lewis has remained faithful as a physician, professor, teacher, preacher, minister to the sick as well as author of multiple medical textbooks, books relating to his experiences over 50 years’ service in Africa, and currently long-distance walks in the UK written as spiritual devotions and travelogues. Martin was instrumental in establishing Hospice care at local hospitals serving alongside their staff and chaplains. He served often as an interim chaplain and counseled many patients and their families. He has served as a consultant and lecturer with the VA Affairs, local Chamber of Commerce, non-profit and civic groups, as well as schools and community events. Martin has served as Chief of Staff for several FL hospitals as well as serving and chairing several Ethics Committees in various institutions, Crisis Task Force groups, and continuing medical education for hospital doctors. Martin lives in St. Petersburg with his wife of 33 years and is proud of his five children and five grandchildren.
His career lead him to America where in 1991 he became a naturalized citizen. He likes to say, “Most Americans are such by accident of birth, I chose my new country on purpose.”
Martin was always interested in medicine from a very young age bandaging up his younger sisters’ dolls and nursing wounded animals. At the age of 8 years, he remembered riding on a London bus with his father saying, “Dad, I want to be a doctor.” His father answered, “Well, then, you shall be one, my son”. That experience always stayed with Martin. Having ADHD, he wasn’t the best student in school and was always getting in trouble. He did not pass his school exams and was set for a life as a laborer. It wasn’t until he met his tutor Monsieur Phillipe’ who helped Martin navigate the rigors it would take to be successful in school. Once given the tools, Martin became the hardest working student and surpassed his classmates. He passed his medical school entrance exams and got into his first-choice school. He attributes his success to his parents and his tutor who always believed in him.
Having taught for over 50 years and served as a Chairman of several medical school departments, it is important to have a forward vision of the road ahead. He believes his professional style is one of safe exploration. He never wishes to impose his personal style on anyone else but loves to collaborate. He likes looking at the bigger picture in order to tackle a project or problem. He enjoys surrounding himself with those who are passionate to fill in the details and he lets them take ownership of that process. He does not enjoy lengthy ‘meetings’ as he feels they are sometimes not as effective as working groups.
He loves people and he enjoys hearing their stories and what makes them unique. He believes, “It is important to listen and validate people, especially when they are hurting or sick. I believe that you must be compassionate and trustworthy for persons to reveal their vulnerability, something that I have witnessed both in my medical career and in my church ministries. It is also valuable as a writer.”
No one in his family chose a career in medicine. He says he was the ‘black sheep’ of the family as all his relatives were musicians or artists. “I had to trailblaze new ground which was both frightening and exciting. It set me apart as someone different. Our family grew up the coal mine valleys of South Wales and unless you had a means to escape, your fate was to serve in the mines. The folks in those valleys were deeply religious and my family raised me to have a deep faith in Christ. Church life was a crucial part of my life.”
When he moved to London for school, he continued his church involvement and was baptized as a young adult after experiencing a Billy Graham campaign. He ran a young Christians youth group and intended to become a medical missionary to Africa. Life had other plans for him and while he didn’t serve as a medical missionary then, he did travel to Africa as a doctor. Later in life, He was able to return to Africa with his wife, Jeanette and their children as ambassadors and missionaries for the church to Mt. Selinda Mission Hospital and Orphanage. His life’s dreams have come full circle.
In January 2019, he celebrated his 80th birthday and he retired from his position as Senior Pastor of Chapel on the Hill United Church of Christ. While he is making the transition to clergy retirement, he continues his medical practice and teaching when the opportunity presents itself. He continues with his long-distance walks in the UK and now he plans to continue with his writing and pursuing his role as author and lecturer.
He believes, “You are never to old (or young) to learn something new. No one should be afraid of things that challenge themselves and questions a way of doing things just because ‘it was always done another way before’. We need to be explorers and we need to understand that as individuals we are made up of body, mind and spirit. Working with individuals, you must address them on all three levels, if possible. This is an important axiom I learned while serving in a DO hospital. We must educate ourselves and be fearless when facing the unknown. We also must never forget our dreams; those we had a children or young adult – there is always time for those dreams to come full circle. My heart’s desires came true and my dreams from my youth did come true. Dreams take hard work and determination and faith never to give up on oneself.”