Because of scheduling, very rarely do I get to preach at the same church twice in the same year. I preached the first Sunday of August for my friend Monte Shinkle at Concord Baptist Church in Jefferson City. Then he asked me back again on the last Sunday of September, and providentially I had held that Sunday open because Sharon and I were driving in from another engagement.
As I prepared, I looked over my calendar and noted how many amazing things I knew had occurred during the 60 days between those two speaking engagements. From my vantage point, I saw the hand of God at work in incredible ways. Missouri Baptists, the Lord is moving among us.
First, I was a participant at the “For the Church Conference” at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The chapel was full, predominately with next-generation men and women studying and preparing for ministry. When the academic year started for all six of our Southern Baptist seminaries, more than 20,000 students were enrolled. What an amazing stewardship we have as Southern Baptists to be chosen by the Lord to prepare this next generation for ministry and mission leadership. These institutions, including our state universities, SBU and HLGU, receive a huge amount of their funding from the Cooperative Program.
Secondly, I attended the 86-member SBC Executive Committee meeting, where I serve by virtue of my office as SBC recording secretary. I learned about the faithfulness of our missionaries on the field where more than 60 percent are serving in high-security areas of the globe. It is hard to get to know these precious servants when you don’t even know their names, but because of your church’s giving to the Cooperative Program, they do not find it necessary to directly solicit you for financial support.
Third, at that same meeting, our new SBC president, J.D. Greear, challenged us to identify the one person in our world who needs to know Jesus. His question is, “Who is your one?” I am increasingly convinced that the Lord is calling Southern Baptists to fall on the altar of intercessory prayer for the person in our world who has yet to receive Christ. The Lord is leading us to talk with people about Him in such a way that many will surrender their lives to Him.
Fourth, the reports continue to flow out of Ft. Leonard Wood about the North American Mission Board chaplain who is preaching and introducing our soldiers to Christ. In the past 60 days, those numbers have continued to increase to nearly 3,000 who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Fifth, during the same span of time, Hurricane Florence came ashore in the Carolinas. MBC deployed Disaster Relief volunteers. These heroes rolled out with their equipment. They fed thousands and assisted hundreds of people with mud outs and chainsaws. They led several people to Christ. Your Cooperative Program gifts provide the infrastructure for Disaster Relief ministry, while designated gifts like the Missouri Missions Offering and love offerings cover the travel costs and support for our volunteers.
Sixth, during this same 60-day span of time, the MBC news journal, The Pathway, published an article about Ron and Terri Robinson’s journey with foster care for special children. If you don’t shed a tear while reading the story, you might be suffering from hardness of the heart. Imagine, 65 children needing a family over a span of 22 years, and they continue to work through and with our Missouri Baptist Children’s Home that is supported by your gifts to the Cooperative Program.
During that same span of time, MBC hosted the Ministers Juggling Act—a pastors’ and wives retreat at Branson. At the retreat this year, we did many things and learned many insights, but perhaps the most important thing we did was minister to two pastors—one who suddenly lost his son and another whose 20-something daughter was shot and killed by her husband. I was so grateful Missouri Baptists had such an event to minister to these in the throes of deep hurt. Your gifts to the Cooperative Program make this event possible.
There are so many other things I could share with you about God at work among us. Many are testifying of unusual things occurring in their local churches such as seeking forgiveness, increasing offerings over the summer months, revival meetings (yes, some of our churches still host these kinds of events), and baptizing those who have received Christ through the faithful witness of God’s people.
There is something special that God desires to do through every Missouri Baptist. I know for sure He desires for us to live on mission with Him.
This is the time of year the majority of our churches begin formulating their annual budgets. Is it possible that through prayer the Lord would lead you to step out in faith and increase your percentage of support to your church, and then your church increases its percentage through the Cooperative Program? Never in the history of Christianity has there been so powerful a method of supporting missions and ministry like the Cooperative Program. Through CP, your church is part of a huge network of churches supporting multi-generational, multi-church missions and ministries in the heartland, the nation and the world.