Prior to the establishment of the First United Pentecostal Church of Okinawa, Japan and the Asia Military District (now Asia Military Ministries), there were two groups of Oneness Jesus Name believers on the island of Okinawa. The first group was the First Pentecostal Church, led by Mr. & Mrs. Arthur M. Jackson. The second group was the First United Pentecostal Church of Okinawa, led by Mr. and Mrs. Jim Laughter. Both of these bodies were comprised of Military and Department of Defense men, women, and family members who sought to serve God while stationed on Okinawa.

Due to US Military rotation schedules and other events as directed by Almighty God, the memberships of both existing church groups began decreasing and continued to do so until only a very minimal number existed in either group. In February of 1979, the Jackson family and the Laughter family met in the Laughter’s home to discuss the possibility of joint services. This meeting proved very worthwhile and a schedule of joint meetings was arranged. The first of these joint meetings occurred on 11 February 1979 in the Laughter’s home on Kadena Air Base. The congregation included the Jackson family, the Laughter family (picture to left), the McFarland family, one single Marine, and one visitor. From these humble beginnings, these joint meetings formed into a fellowship group. The services continued under the teachings of Brother Laughter and Brother Jackson, and the services were rotated between the two respective homes.

In April of 1979, the church group began to earnestly petition God to provide a full-time missionary to Okinawa, someone to pastor this work. In May of 1979, the group decided that since they didn’t have a missionary on the island and they deeply desired one, they would begin supporting foreign missions. They agreed to select a missionary family and send monthly offerings to help support them. During the Sunday service on 20 May 1979, the congregation agreed this would be the day they would select the missionary they would begin to support believing that if they helped others, God would in turn meet their need. Each member of the congregation placed the name of one missionary in a bowl. The names included missionaries from Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Germany, African nations, and American Samoa. After praying for God’s will to be done, one name was drawn from the bowl. The name selected was the Paul Dennis family. The Dennis’s were missionaries in Hokkaido, Japan. At this time, an initial offering of $20.15 was received and service was dismissed. Brother Laughter would contact UPCI Foreign Missions Division to determine how to get the offering to the Dennis’s.

The next day, Brother Laughter received a long-distance phone call from Brother Paul Dennis. Brother Laughter then explained the strange ‘coincidence’ of the call. Brother Dennis told Brother Laughter to hold the money and they would personally pick it up, because they had just been notified of their transfer approval to become full-time missionaries to Okinawa. They were scheduled to arrive on Okinawa at the end of June 1979. Realizing the wonderful workings of God’s will, Brother Dennis and Brother Laughter made plans for the Dennis’s’ arrival. When the church was told about the fulfilled prayers, they all became very encouraged and praised God for His provision.

The Dennis’s arrived on Okinawa on the 29th of June 1979.Over the last 40 years, the doors of the First United Pentecostal Church of Okinawa has had thousands come through its doors. We are thankful that there have also been over 645 people baptized and over 492 have received the Holy Ghost. The FUPC began as a church group founded on prayer and a desire to support missions, which remains to this day. We are thankful the impact of the FUPC reaches far beyond Okinawa, as the many men, women and families who have come and gone, continue to carry the light of the Gospel all over the world.

The FUPC and Asia Military Ministries could not and would not be what it is today without the dedication, sacrifice, commitment, prayers, and labor of those who have pastored over its 40+ year history. The FUPC has stood as a spiritual lighthouse for these many years, and with the help of the Lord, it will continue to do so until He returns!