Dr. David Pope – President
David was born in Atlanta, Georgia and re-born (came to faith in Christ) as a young boy in rural Hickory Flat, Georgia about seven years later. Upon graduation from Cherokee High School (Canton, Georgia), David received a congressional appointment to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado. By his own admission, David was a “young” 17-year-old when he entered and lacked the maturity needed to excel at such a rigorous institution. At the end of his first year, he had achieved “all-pro” status … both academic and conduct probation at the same time! In the middle of his second year, both David and the Academy came to the mutual conclusion that he should move on. This is when he moved to Starkville, Mississippi and began to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Mississippi State. By the grace of God, he met Cindy Smith in the fall of 1977 and, with a year left until graduation, they were married in July of 1978. Soon after graduation from MSU, David began a career in public utilities in Beaumont, Texas. The Pope’s first child was born in 1979 and a second followed in 1982 as they moved back to Georgia due to the tragic death of David’s father in an auto accident. By the time 1986 rolled around, he had broad experience in a number of financial roles with three different utility companies, had passed the Certified Public Accountant’s exam, and was at 28 excelling in his career. At the same time, David had grown increasingly uncomfortable spiritually.
In 1985, while away from home on a company outing, David received an unmistakable call from God and he told the Lord that from that point, he would go anywhere and do anything God told him to do. It would be another year before David would realize that this meant full-time vocational Christian service and, realizing he had little to no biblical education, made the decision with Cindy to move the family back to Mississippi where he would enter the Master of Divinity program at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, Tennessee.
From the moment Dr. Pope entered seminary (he would return to earn a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1999), he and Cindy had a desire to reach the nations for Christ. For nearly 20 years, he served as a pastor in a local church (New York, Indiana, and Pennsylvania). For two years, David coordinated the collaborative efforts of 17 churches in Central New York. For a little more than two years, the Pope’s served as full-time missionaries in West Africa. In the last seven years, David has helped lead two missions organizations: Reach the Rest and the Issachar Initiative.
Dr. Pope brings a strong sense of purpose, organization, and proven effectiveness to any effort and now with the launch of POPE Initiatives, he hopes to use these characteristics and broad experience cross-sector global mission initiatives.
Shanna – Vice-President of Operations
Shanna was born in San Bernardino, California, and came to faith in Christ at 12 years old in Tucson, Arizona. In her early years, she lived in a broken and unstable home. In 1985, Shanna met Michael (who would later become her husband) in church. In 1991, Shanna, though reserved and somewhat shy, felt the call to go to China to smuggle Bibles to people who were in desperate need of the Word of God. God showed himself so faithful during that time and Shanna grew in her faith and began to surrender fully to whatever God wanted for her life, letting go of her plan for a better plan.
Upon Shanna’s return to the United States, Michael began to see the change that God had made in her life and realized his need to surrender his plan for a better plan as well. By the grace of God, they were married in 1993. Michael and Shanna moved 3,000 miles away from home to Rome, New York, where they joined Floyd Baptist Church, pastored by Dr. David Pope. Shanna finished her degree in Business with a focus in Accounting and began working as David’s Administrative Assistant from 1994-1996. During their time in New York, God blessed their family with their first son, Joshua. The pregnancy was very difficult providing the opportunity to lean on God and their church family for comfort and wisdom. At a time when worldly wisdom said to terminate the pregnancy, God said, “Trust me.” Joshua was born early due to complications, suffering respiratory distress syndrome and mild cerebral palsy. Shanna also learned that she had a degenerative kidney disease and that one kidney had failed. This has become a constant reminder of the continued faithfulness of God.
As Michael was in the Air Force, the family moved back and forth across the country and went on to have two more sons, David (named after the Pope himself) in 1998 and Andrew in 2002. All along the way, Michael and Shanna actively served in their church, and Shanna was following the call on her life to raise their boys to know the Lord. In 2006, Michael, Shanna and the boys settled in Fredericksburg, Virginia and Shanna home-schooled through Michael’s deployments and his eventual retirement in 2013. Shanna did bookkeeping and accounting before she began working at a secular job in the insurance industry.
Throughout the previous 25 years, Cindy (David’s wife) played a mentor role in Shanna’s life, and the Pope’s and the Turbyfill’s became close family. With the launch of POPE Initiatives, it took no time to realize that it was in perfect alignment with the imprint on her heart that the Lord had made back in 1991. God has given Shanna a strong sense of purpose, determination and an urgency to be about His work, she is excited to be hands and feet for the greatest kingdom impact.
Shanna’s responsibilities include financial oversight, project processing/funding, and calendar scheduling for all meetings and events.
Spencer – Vice-President of Field Strategy
Spencer was born in Flowood, MS in 1978. By the grace of God, he was raised by parents that knew, loved, and served the Lord Jesus. Their witness and sharing of the Gospel led him to know Jesus at age 7.
After graduating high school, Spencer went to Belhaven University to study and play baseball. While at Belhaven, the Lord began to call him to ministry and also open his eyes to the lostness of so much of the world. After graduating in 2001, Spencer married his high school sweetheart, Melanie, and they moved to Memphis, TN to study at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. While at Mid-America, Spencer served as the Youth Pastor and Minister of Music at Highland Baptist Church in Senatobia, MS. During these years, the Lord continued to burden Spencer and Melanie about the lostness and lack of access to the Gospel among unreached people groups around the world.
In 2003 and 2004, friends led them on vision trips to unreached areas that confirmed God’s call on their lives to serve among the unreached. In 2006, Spencer, Melanie, and their two young children (Caleb and Eden) moved overseas to serve among the unreached. They served overseas for 12 years in 3 countries before returning to the US in 2018.
They now reside in Madison, MS with their four children: Caleb, Eden, Jeremiah, and Asa (the younger two being born overseas.) While their resident location has changed, God’s call on their lives has not. Spencer is excited to join Pope Initiatives in a role that will enable his continued pursuit of God’s call on his life.
Ryan – Accountant
Cindy – Director of Donor Relations
Cindy has served all over the world with her husband (David) as a pastor’s wife, Day-Care Director, Children’s Ministry Director, Women’s Ministry Director, West Africa Missionary, and whatever else God has asked! With a heart bursting to serve, Cindy has endeared herself to thousands in Africa and the US. If there is a job to be done, she will always be the first to sign up or the first in line to do what is needed.
Cindy holds a B.A in Communications (with a minor in Public Relations) and for many years held a certificate in teaching. She has taught in public and private schools in MS, NY, and IN. Finally, Cindy is the “help-meet” of one, mother of two, and grandmother of four.