Periodically, while reading other state Baptist newspapers, I stumble across an extraordinary column. Such was the case with a column by Matt Tullos, the stewardship development specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Convention. I asked Matt for permission to make a Missouri adaptation of his column for you.
“It’s that time again when the sun bids us to flee from the status quo and frolic with the family in favorite locations,” writes Tullos. “Whether you are a one-week mountain man or a four-day beach bum, we all need a week to unwind, recalibrate and reconnect with family.
“But there is one thing that never goes on vacation: The Cooperative Program. For almost 100 years, the Cooperative Program has been doing some pretty amazing things.”
Let me remind you of just a few:
• Sending missionaries through the International Mission Board around the world to plant churches, evangelize and give hope in the desperate corners of the world. As of June 3, 2019, there are 3,683 international field personnel.
• Providing a safe place for kids in foster care through the Missouri Baptist Children’s Home. In 2018, 81 of those children were adopted by relatives or their foster family.
• 25 Missouri church plants are funded and underway through our MBC church planting network.
• “Lisa” was rescued from human trafficking and cared for by the MBCH. Although her mom and others sold her into prostitution, she is experiencing a changed life because of churches giving to the CP.
• Over 85 summer missionaries and their mentors are equipping student leaders this week.
• Disaster Relief teams were trained, equipped, and deployed to assist after tornadoes and floods in our state. These people give their time in some of life’s most difficult moments, and CP makes that possible.
• MBC’s three universities are preparing for fall students. Their hope is to equip professionals with a distinctively biblical worldview for the challenges of tomorrow.
• 26 campus ministries at state campuses are preparing for this fall’s ministries.
The list of ministries that Missouri Baptist churches do together goes on and on. Our purpose is to cooperate in such a way that the Lord uses us to transform lives and communities with the gospel. Just like the list goes on and on, even so the Cooperative Program never goes on vacation.
Tullos adds, “Like so many others, the Cooperative Program is all over my personal story. My great grandmother was a Baptist children’s home child, my aunt and uncle sensed God’s call to Thailand and spent 30 years there without having to raise a penny of support. Dad and I received an amazing education at two Cooperative Program-supported seminaries.
“I’m just one life that was changed through the gifts of Southern Baptist churches through the Cooperative Program. For 95 years the Cooperative Program never took a time out.”
Why would some of our faithful Missouri churches give over 10, 20, or even 30 percent of undesignated receipts to missions through the Cooperative Program? Why would some of our larger churches give right at $450,000 through the Cooperative program?
“The answer is simple,” writes Tullos. “Big or small, they realize that the mission is bigger than themselves and the Cooperative Program never goes on vacation and that is a very good thing!”
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This week at the Southern Baptist Convention, messengers are gathering for worship, reports, testimony and preaching. And yes, there will be business with voting. One of the items under consideration is the SBC’s structural response to the issue of sexual abuse with some churches aligned with the SBC. Pray for wisdom to prevail and civil conversations.
In Missouri, we are very fortunate that our Missouri Baptist Children’s Home (MBCH) has been engaged for years in equipping our churches with proper responses to this issue. They have a team that trains your church or association to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child abuse and particularly sexual abuse. Contact MBCH at 1.800.264.6224 to schedule this training or you can email RoseAnn.Jost@MBCH.org.