At the age of 17, James Kennard joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed aboard the USS Hancock. While on shore leave, he was invited to a special youth meeting at a Baptist church in San Diego, California. This was the turning point in his life as he listened to the message from God’s Word and accepted Christ as his Savior that night.
He spent part of his tour of duty overseas and part of it in San Diego. While serving in San Diego, he was encouraged by a pastor friend to consider future training for the ministry, given the fact that he felt the calling of God upon his life. James enrolled in Tennessee Temple in 1958 and graduated in 1961. He felt God’s call upon his life for full-time mission work while attending Tennessee Temple.
James and Gail were married in June 1960 by Dr. J.R. Faulkner, and they were accepted by Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI), in July 1961 for foreign missionary service. The Kennards spent the next 17 years of their ministry on the island of Okinawa, Japan.
While working with the nationals on Okinawa, he received a great burden for the U.S. military personnel stationed on that island. He relayed his burden to Baptist International Missions, which responded with a missionary to start a church with the U.S. military. When that missionary returned to the States, Brother Kennard was called as pastor of the Maranatha Baptist Church (a military church) in August 1974. Those years of pastoring were very successful, and many lives were changed through their ministry with the military personnel and their families.
Brother Kennard was appointed the Military Director for Baptist International Missions in April 1980 and was in charge of all military ministries. In June 2014 Dr. James Kennard transitioned into the position of Military International Representative, and he will continue his ministry with the military through the Assistance and Relief Missionary (ARM) ministry of BIMI. Those serving with the ARM ministry of BIMI are vital to the cause of missions. James and Gail Kennard have served the Lord faithfully for many years in missions and have a tremendous amount of experience to offer in the area of worldwide evangelization. They have an undying passion to serve their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Military Ministry of Baptist International Missions has continued to grow. They now have started over 50 churches outside military bases around the world and have a goal of starting a Baptist church outside every military base in the world that does not already have one. They presently have over 80 missionaries serving with the Military Ministry around the world and have started churches in 16 countries. There is still much work to be done with our US military. Because of the present military buildup, there will be more and more opportunities for us to start more churches.
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