BIMI

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Sowing and Sending from Yokosuka, Japan: A Unique Approach to Worldwide Missions By Ed Navato The Lord of the harvest sent Larry Hammonds, a BIMI missionary, to Japan to start a local Bible- believing church. As a result, Yokosuka Baptist Church was established in February 1985. Missionary Hammonds was assisted by BIMI Missionary Tom Bowlin who later became the second pastor of Yokosuka Baptist Church. They both have much “fruit that remains.” For example, one of the early members of Yokosuka Baptist Church was Brother Carl Sparks who is now a BIMI missionary to the Philippines. Yokosuka Baptist Church is the sending church for the Sparks. Yokosuka Baptist Church first started meeting in a military housing tower community room of the US Naval Base Yokosuka prior to obtaining a church building just outside the base. Over the years many sailors and civilians who visited Yokosuka Baptist Church got saved, and many Christians are now productive members of churches in the States and overseas. US Military Missions overseas have many challenges, but the Lord sustains His local churches. On March 11, 2011, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0 occurred on the Pacific Coast of Japan. The earthquake triggered a powerful tsunami killing 15,887 people. The tsunami also caused meltdowns at the three reactors in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant complex prompting the evacuation of hundreds of thousands, including family members of US Military personnel on the US Naval Base Yokosuka. Many of them were members of Yokosuka Baptist Church. After the evacuation only 11 individuals were left in Yokosuka Baptist Church—mostly civilians living in the area. BIMI Military missionary Steve Nutt became the interim pastor. Later, the church voted on me to become their next pastor and God sent us to Yokosuka Baptist Church. I arrived on a Friday, July 1, 2011, along with my wife Elvie and son Eli. It was soul winning day for the church and I led a soul to Christ outside the main gate of the US Naval Base. US Military Missions is very unique. Many Christians who hear about American missionaries overseas usually think that someday the missionary will leave and the church will be turned over to a local pastor. They suppose that the missionary would then plant another church in a different area. However, in US Military Missions the church members are the ones leaving their missionary and it seems that church planting is happening year-round. The US military members are only here for one to three years. Last year, a good 30 percent of our church members transferred due to military orders called “Permanent Change of Station Orders.” It is good to know that many of them are still in independent Baptist churches serving the Lord Jesus Christ. Brother Danny Hirte surrendered to the Lord and believes God is calling him to be a pastor. He just completed a Bible college degree this year through Faith Bible Institute that he attended while he was in Yokosuka Baptist Church. He is a sailor in the US Navy and served on the USS George Washington carrier while he was there. Before I even met him, he e-mailed me while he was sailing—what the Navy calls “underway.” He was a bit discouraged and wanted to know more about “soul-saving.” At the beginning of every year, we train our members in Sunday school, ushering, altar work, nursery work,