One of my favorite recollections of being with my dad was a cool morning in December. I may not get all the details right, but this is how I remember what took place. We were on Christmas break, and I was riding in my dad’s ’58 Ford pickup.
As we approached a neighborhood intersection, we saw a little girl ride her bike out of a side street and into oncoming traffic. One of the cars ahead of us slammed on the brakes to miss the young girl. The driver was too late and ran over her and her bike. Before the car came to a stop, it rolled up in a neighbor’s yard, pinning the girl under the back axle of the car.
Immediately, my dad stopped his truck. He sprang out the door and headed toward the scene of the accident. The girl was screaming – not from pain, but from absolute fear of being trapped under the car.
I ran to my dad’s side. People were gathering from the neighborhood and from the cars that stopped. Some were saying we have to get this car off the little girl. As my dad surveyed the situation, his amazing mechanical aptitude was in overdrive! Then, as if he were the captain of a rescue crew, he announced to the gathering crowd, “We can lift this car off of her and someone can pull her out.” The people around him looked at him as if he was from outer space.
“Everyone gather around,” he barked. “Everyone find a place to grab hold.” We all, even me, a 65-pound weakling, lined around the back of the car. “On three, everyone lift and the neighbor lady can pull the girl out – one … two … lift!”
Collectively, we lifted the rear of that full-size Plymouth (you know, the ones with the big fins) and the girl was out. Unbelievably, she experienced only minor injuries.
Miraculously, we did something that no single individual could have done alone. It took us all. We all had an important role to play.
The Great Commission is about every Christian in every generation working with others in the redemptive work of our God. He has done everything necessary for us to experience His salvation though the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, He charges us to take the message of His compassion to the ends of the earth, starting in our own backyard.
We cannot do this impossible God-given task alone. There are too many people – too many barriers. We must work together to do the unbelievable. We must work together in our local churches. We must work together through our Missouri/SBC cooperative ministries.
Through your church’s faithful giving to the Cooperative Program you support:
• 25 full-time state missionaries and several part-time missionaries dispersed through out the state
• 30 or more church planters working to plant churches in all kinds of demographics
• Two world-class Baptist universities pledged to equip tomorrow’s leaders with a Christian worldview through the student’s chosen profession
• A diverse children’s home that touches the lives of hurting children, families and those exploited by the wickedness of our times.
There are more Missouri ministries supported by your church’s cooperative giving than I have space to list.
At the same time, with the same Cooperative Program giving by your church, our national Southern Baptist ministries are making an impact:
• Your six seminaries are training more than 14,000 of tomorrow’s ministry leaders.
• Your Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission is on the front line of educating the public about how priceless our religious liberties are and how close we are to losing this precious privilege.
• The North American Mission Board is making an impact in our nation’s major cities like never before in the history of our convention.
• The international missionaries you support are serving in high-risk locations to share the message of the gospel. There was one slain last month who was just trying to be a witness.
When the little girl was hit by the car, if my dad had not challenged all the men and women standing around to lift the car, the little girl could have perished. Instead, a life was saved because we cooperated.
Even though we all have the local things we must do to share the gospel, there are people we cannot see or we will never meet who need to know there is but one Savior and His name is Jesus. Through cooperative giving, we work together to do the impossible task of sharing the gospel with people we cannot see. We must all hold the rope of support for our missionaries and ministries in Missouri and to the ends of the earth even though we may not personally know people God is using.
These are the most important days in the history of your Christian life, and God desires to do amazing things through you and your church. So I encourage you to:
• Please, call out to God for the lost to be saved and the laborers to be multiplied.
• Please, see your fellow Baptists as co-laborers in the kingdom of our God.
• Please, in 2014 challenge your church to proportionally give by faith to the Cooperative Program at an impossible level that pleases God.