BIMI

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In 1960 Dad became interested in a group effort to form a mission board which would later become known as Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI). He was part of the beginning “from the ground floor up” when it all began. At first, Dad was looking at India as a possible mission field for them, but the door was closed to missionaries. A missionary on furlough from Okinawa recommended that they consider Japan and the accompanying islands. After visiting Okinawa and Kume Jima, my parents were advised to move to Kobe, Japan, to attend language school. One of the most profound memories I have as a child growing up on Kume Jima was of my dad jogging. As a young man, Dad was an athlete. Long before jogging was “cool,” Dad would take off running. I asked my mother, “Where does Daddy go?” She told me that Dad went to talk with God up on the mountain. Years later, after learning to read and knowing about Moses, I became convinced and still am convinced that Dad did talk to God up on that mountaintop! My next memories are of Okinawa. Dad was building a church attended by nationals. At that time there was an Army chaplain who preached the Word. Before traveling back to the United States on furlough, Dad was contacted by military families desiring the opportunity to start an English-speaking church there on Okinawa. Dad, never forgetting his military service, cast a vision to men like Tom Freeney, Director of BIMI, that there was a spiritual need for the tens of thousands of servicemen and women who made their way through Okinawa. It was at that time that a man named Bob Elzey stepped forward to answer that call. The first services were held in our home in May 1968. Maranatha Baptist Church was formally established in September 1968. Six years later Bob Elzey felt called to ministry back in the United States. Maranatha Baptist Church then asked my dad to consider pastoring them. Under God’s direction, he answered the call. I have witnessed how God used the life of one man—James Kennard—for His glory. I do not believe that there is an accountant on earth who can calculate the number of lives who have been impacted by one life dedicated to the Gospel! My dad went on to become the Field Director of Military Missions for BIMI and currently serves as the International Representative for Military Missions, working in close tandem with Dr. Jeff Alverson. God has given Brother Alverson the same vision to lead this great work forward. The Macedonian Call has never wavered and continues under the leadership of Dr. Alverson. Jim Kennard with Maranatha Baptist Church bus