BIMI

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A Chance Meeting Leads to A Lifelong Journey by Chris Parker A chance meeting on January 1, 1971, brought my wife, Junior, and me together. Then, on December 18 of that same year, we were married and moved to Beeville, Texas, where I was stationed at NAS Chase Field. Beeville was where we would spend the last six months of our time as a Navy family…or so we thought. In June 1972 we were discharged from the military and were excited about finding jobs and being “free.” Our first move as civilians was to Houston, Texas, but that did not work for us and we soon moved to Oklahoma to attend college. That move did not work either and we found ourselves back in the US Navy…not at all part of our plans! However, God was at work and he was placing us on a journey that has not as yet ended. My wife and I did not know that God had a plan for us and, furthermore, we did not care if he did. We did not know the Lord, but He knew us and was working in us. We had no idea what was happening, but the Lord began bringing different people and situations into our lives that would eventually lead us to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as well as revealing His calling for our lives. The next seven years were spent stationed in Rota, Spain. It was during this time that Junior and I were saved and learned about the privilege of serving God. We learned much under the ministries of two BIMI missionaries to the US Military who pastored Bethel Baptist Church during the years we were members. What a thrill it was when the Lord called us to full-time service as missionaries to the US Military! In 1979 we once again were civilians and on our way to Bible school to prepare for the task to which God had called us. During our time in Bible school, God called us back to Rota, Spain, to pastor the very church where we were saved and had learned to serve Him! We were going “home.” My wife and I were accepted as BIMI missionaries in 1981, graduated from Bible school in May 1982 and immediately started deputation. One week after our youngest son, Keith, was born in July 1982, we moved into our car with our three children and spent the next 10 months crossing America. The Lord gave us the opportunity to present our ministry and the burden of our hearts to many churches across our nation. We made many friends who have remained faithful in praying for us for over 30 years. This time of “deputation” was an exciting time for us. We learned much and met many people who had a desire to reach the world with the Gospel. The Lord taught us that He could and would supply all of our needs. And we knew that every mile we traveled and every church we visited meant we were getting closer to being in the ministry for which the Lord had been preparing us since that “chance meeting” in 1971. Junior and I arrived back in Spain in June 1983 and began a wonderful ministry that would last 20 plus years. It would take many pages to share the multiplied blessings God gave us there. Many people trusted Christ as their Savior and several surrendered for full-time Christian service. As a church, we became a family reaching out to those around us with the Gospel. Today it is a family that spans the globe. In 1998 we felt the Lord was moving us to Meridian, Mississippi. Leaving Rota was one of the hardest things we ever did but since it was of the Lord, we did not hesitate. Following the attacks on America on September 11, 2001, the Lord led us back to Rota, Spain. Perhaps that move to Meridian was the Lord’s way of testing us to see if we would go where he wanted because He had other plans and another ministry for us. In 2008 the Lord moved us to Iwakuni, Japan, to pastor yet another military congregation. This was a giant step into unfamiliar territory but as before, the Lord was and is directing our paths. In the five years we have been in Iwakuni, we have experienced two major rotations that have impacted the size of our congregation. Currently, we are struggling through a “rebuilding” process. If we were not sure this is where God wanted us, we could easily be discouraged. However, knowing God is in control and that we are where he wants us, we are excited about seeing what the future holds. The US Military is planning for a large increase of personnel at MCAS Iwakuni. To us that means that God has great plans in store for some of the troops and their families who will be coming our way in the near future. Even though we started with a “chance meeting” and had many failed plans, we realize that the Lord has been directing us even before we met. It was God who brought us together; it was God who drew us close and saved us; it was God who led us as we surrendered to His will; it is God who still guides us every day and it is God who continues to bless us after more than 30 years in the Military Ministry. We are still amazed that God uses us. What a privilege to serve such a great God!