BIMI

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WE ARE A TEAM By Dr. James Kennard While I was working with the nationals of Okinawa, I can recall a time in 1967 when some military families were coming to me saying that they needed a church for military personnel on the island. We were at the peak of the Vietnam War and the need was very great. I told folks to pray as we were going home on furlough and we would see what we could do about getting a missionary to come for the military. We all began to pray. When we got to the States, I went in to talk to the men of our mission, Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI), about the need to have someone who would have a real burden for military personnel and who would go to Okinawa to start the church. The Mission said if we find someone to go, they would approve him. I met Brother Bob Elzey and his family and we talked about this great need. Later they came to me and said God wanted them to go to Okinawa to work with the military. We were thrilled at that news! Preparations were made and we went back to Okinawa in January 1968. The Elzey family followed soon after. The Military Ministry of BIMI was born! I helped them all I could and this developed into a good working relationship. We each had our own ministries but we had a great burden for each other’s ministry. Bob and I would go to a men only exercise room on Monday mornings. We would exercise, shower, and go to breakfast together and then we would go somewhere and pray together for one another’s ministry. We were a team, and I cherish the time we had together on Okinawa. Bob and Marlyn Elzey were very special to Gail and me. We enjoyed their whole family. Their children, Debbie and Bobby, were real assets to the ministry on Okinawa. First Meeting Place First Building Rented The great Maranatha Baptist Church was born under Bob’s leadership and has been labeled by some as one of the best churches they had attended. Thousands have been saved and hundreds are in full-time ministry today from this church. They have always had a strong soul winning emphasis. This has all been with a constant rotating congregation. Also, the military personnel through the church came in contact with missionaries working with the nationals as well. The church was organized in the right way and has stood for the truth since 1968. The church is still doing great today. Bob will be missed by all of us, but Gail and I will always remember the wonderful times we shared with Bob and Marlyn Elzey on Okinawa. First Building Then and Now By Dr. James Kennard The Maranatha Baptist Church held their first service in May 1968 in our living room with 12 people in attendance. The church was officially organized in September 1968. After a number of services in our home, the church rented a storefront building that it used for the next few years. Second Building Brother Bob Elzey was the first pastor and served six years and then I became the pastor and led them through their first building program. The church had outgrown the storefront and needed a bigger place. We found a building for sale a few blocks from where we were meeting. We purchased it and remodeled it into a beautiful building, which the church used for the next few years until they outgrew that building and were able to lease land on which to build a new building. Brother Steve Nutt was the pastor when they launched the new building program and he led the church to see this completed. Brother Gary Craft is the pastor now and they are seeing wonderful results. I had the privilege of relieving him for eight weeks and what a blessing it was! The church continues to be very strong. Souls are being saved, and God is still calling full-time Christian workers. From the very beginning, Maranatha has kept its focus right. I am proud to be affiliated with this great church. Current Building