Dr. David Pope – Founder/CEO
Dr. David Pope 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.
Mr. Rob Harvey – Chief Strategy Officer
Rob serves as Chief Strategy Officer working to design and implement unreached people group initiatives for POPE Initiatives under the direction of the Founder/President. He serves and assists our Implementing Partners by facilitating:
RESEARCH: Mapping people and resources
EDUCATION: Sharing learnings and fruitful practices
INNOVATION: Developing methodologies and technologies
COLLABORATION: Advancing integration within partnerships
Rob strategically coaches ministry leaders, caring for them and helping them develop new missional wine-skins for greater Kingdom impact. He is currently commissioned by Table 71 to develop a new round-table of oral practitioners called STREAM, offering a place for organizations using various methodologies for the purposes of storying for translation, reproduction, engagement, and multiplication. Rob also serves the International Orality Network as an International Council member and is Senior Associate for the Storying Gateway globally. Rob has served as Mission Advisor with MissioNexus and Finishing the Task, advancing the effectiveness of the Great Commission community.
Rob is joyfully married to the love of his life, Mary. He is Dad to three amazing boys and four incredible girls and they all live in their hometown of Franklin, Tennessee.
Mrs. Shanna Turbyfill – Assistant to the Founder/CEO
Mrs. Shanna Turbyfill was born in San Bernardino, California in 1970, 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 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.
Linda Bemis – Director of UPGI Prayer Strategies
As a senior associate at the International Orality Network, Linda worked with organizations and agencies to influence and bring an awareness of the reality that 80% of the world’s population are oral communicators. Oral peoples and people groups need God’s Word available to them in formats that allow them to really receive the message of the gospel, and to empower them to be Christ followers. Believing that prayer is the foundation of all our work to reach the lost, she also serves as the Director of Prayer for Unreached People Group Initiatives with POPE Initiatives and as the Prayer Strategist for the 4.2.20 Foundation.
Previously, Linda worked with Ethne, VisionSynergy, IAS, Vision 5:9, GACX and others to offer support, coaching, training, and prayer mobilization strategies in partnership with the International Orality Network. From 1998 to 2006, she served out of the office of prayer for the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board, and from 1998 to 2001 she served Henry Blackaby Ministries in prayer conferences.
Linda served the International Orality Network, Table 71, and the 4.2.20 Foundation to offer eyes-open prayer support during board meetings. She also collaborated as one of the authors featured in Orality Breakthroughs: Using Heart Language to Transform Hearts – Chapter 15 in 2010 and authored Prayer for Oral and Oral Bibleless People Groups in 2018 under the pen name of ION Prayer.
Linda and her husband, David, live near Orlando, Florida, and have three children and seven grandchildren.
Mrs. Cindy Pope – Relationship Manager
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.