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By Sammy Popwell
My wife, Joan, and I have been serving with Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI), for over 30 years.
Before joining BIMI, I served in the Marine Corps for 20 years. We were sent to Okinawa, Japan, in 1976.
Maranatha Baptist Church is where I rededicated my life to the Lord. It was at Maranatha that our oldest
daughter was saved during Vacation Bible School in 1977. We were active in the bus ministry until we
rotated in June 1979, and we were assigned to Hawaii for a three-year tour.
God started dealing with me about being a missionary. In March 1980, I surrendered to do whatever
God wanted me to do. I retired from the Marine Corps in July 1985 and enrolled in Tennessee Temple
University as a missions major. Upon completing my studies, my wife and I were accepted as missionaries
with BIMI. We have served in churches in Mississippi, Puerto Rico, and Misawa, Japan. Due to my
health needs, we had to leave Misawa, Japan; however, we were given the opportunity to continue to serve
the Lord through the Assistance and Relief Missionary (ARM Personnel) ministry of BIMI.
In September 2016, Joan and I were asked to go to Maranatha Baptist Church in Okinawa, Japan. It was hard to believe that after
40 years I was going to get the privilege to serve in the ministry where the journey had begun so long ago! This was the highlight of
a 30-year path.
Maranatha Baptist Church has many areas of ministry in which to serve. Some are the Faith Bible Institute, Christian school, Singles
ministry, Music program, Outreach ministry, and Youth ministry. There are great opportunities for military families to get involved
What a blessing to see young men and women saved almost weekly! The church saw good growth through the Sunday school and
our outreach programs. We made many friends who will last a lifetime. Maranatha was a home away from home for many young
military people. We had families that would prepare home cooked meals on Sunday for the single and unaccompanied. It was such a
blessing to have lunch with these young men and women and to get to know where they were from and what their goals were for life.
It was amazing to see the level of commitment they had to our great country.
We had two church picnics where we had games, food, and a wonderful time. It was a time to get away from the daily routine of
working very long hours in rough conditions. The competition was fierce among the different services, but they were all one team
when it came to being a committed force.
Maranatha Baptist Church also had a great group of young teachers from the Philippines who taught at the International school.
Many of them had to leave their homes and families so they could provide for their children, and they would stay in Okinawa for
several years. These young people truly loved the Lord. Their commitment was “second to none.” If a new teacher would come, these
ladies would make sure they were saved. If not, they would work on them until they were saved!
It is our desire to be used of God by working with the U.S. Military under the ARM ministry of BIMI. We plan to stay busy promoting
missions through the local church, filling in for missionaries who need short-term furloughs, helping new missionaries get to the
field, and being used however we are needed.
We need to stay available. One never knows what opportunities God has for us.
Faith Baptist Church
Where Christ Is Preeminent
By Brandyn Knight
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church:
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in ALL THINGS he might have the preemi-
nence (Colossians 1:17–18 emphasis added).
God called my wife, Alicia, and me and our two children,
Dawsyn and Gavin, to military missions before we had ever heard of the small, yet rapidly
expanding town of Iwakuni, Japan. It is uncanny how the Lord works. As I meditate on the
verses above, I think of the burden that God deposited within my heart back in 2011 when
He called us to military missions. No matter where God called my family and no matter how
prominent or seemingly insignificant the work when others looked at that ministry, they
would see the hand of God and not the hands of the Knight family.
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni is a base with a rapidly growing prominence in the Pacific
theater. Numerous marines and sailors arrive to meet the demands of such a place. With
them often come their families, who stay anywhere from 18 months to 3 years. No doubt
someone would look at the numbers, as I have many times, and think that a ministry like
Faith Baptist Church (FBC), planted in 1982, would be primed for a unique opportunity to
minister to so many lost and needy souls. One would be right. On paper, it just makes sense.
Yet, we have learned that before God can truly use a people, before we can truly see God do
a LASTING work in the hearts and lives of a multitude, He first desires to purify the vessels.
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