After graduating from high school in 1961, I joined the Marine Corps and spent the next four years traveling from one duty station to the other. One year before my enlistment was completed, I married my longtime sweetheart, Jean Edmondson, of Atlanta, Georgia. Upon my discharge from the military, we moved into the new house that we had built in the area where I grew up—out in the country near McDonough, Georgia.
Jean and I had been church members since our teen years, but we knew nothing about the way of salvation or the things of God. Shortly after moving into our new house, we started attending the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church. It was there that my wife and I for the first time heard the Word of God in our hearts. Oh, we had heard the Word before, but it had not entered our hearts. After attending the services several times, we both trusted Christ as our personal Savior.
After serving the Lord in various ways in our local church, I felt the Lord calling me into full-time service. That was in 1968. I quit my job with Ford Motor Company and entered Bible school. I studied two years in a small Bible school in Atlanta, Georgia, and then transferred to Tennessee Temple, which was located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. After four years of study, my wife and I graduated from Temple in 1974.
While I was in my last year at Temple, the Lord called us to serve Him in Japan. Jean and I joined Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI), in 1973. Upon graduation we began deputation under BIMI. My family and I arrived in Japan the summer of 1975 and began to study the Japanese language and to seek to lead the people of Japan to the Lord. While we were studying the language, we were able to assist a Japanese pastor in starting a bus ministry.
We were in a church planting ministry from the very beginning. From 1975 to 1988, we worked in the city of Kobe, the city that was hit by the earthquake in 1994. It is located on the large island of Honshu. By the grace of God, we were able to start a church there and saw many people saved and several persons called into full-time service for our Lord. One couple from that church served as missionaries in Hong Kong. I also had the privilege of helping to train our Japanese Christians at our Bible school as well as helping to organize and direct a Japanese mission board.
In 1989 we moved to Okinawa, a small island south of the main islands of Japan. We served in Okinawa for about ten years, working in the city of Naha, which is the largest city on the island. The population of the island is about 1.5 million. Of that population, only three percent claim to be Christians. One can see that there is a great need for the preaching of the Gospel. We assisted in the work of two churches in Okinawa and helped establish a Bible camp.
From November 1999 to October 2008, I served as the pastor of the Lighthouse Baptist Church of Sasebo, Japan. Our main ministry there in Sasebo was with the members of the United States military and their families. There are about 6,000 military personnel in the city and about 240,000 Japanese. Since we did speak the language, we had opportunities to work with both groups of people. The Lord provided us with a nice, large building with a great location. We were blessed to see many of our service men and women trust Christ as their Savior!
Since the fall of 2008, I have had the privilege of serving as the Education Coordinator and Relief Missionary for BIMI. As the Education Coordinator, I serve as the administrator of the International Bible Institute, which our mission has established to assist members of the military in their study of God’s Word. As relief missionaries, Jean and I have the opportunity to assist missionaries who need a short-term furlough. Since assuming this roll, we have been able to assist several missionaries.
Robert (Pete) & Jean Heath
9147 Woodoak Road
Soddy-Daisy, TN 37379
Phone: 423-842-5328; (cell) 423-322-2241
Jeff & Joyce Alverson
Read more about the Alversons. He can be contacted through the BIMI office: (423) 344-5050.