Hearing a “faith-funded” missionary couple appeal to messengers for financial support during an association meeting earlier this year reminded me of the challenges many missionaries face in raising support. Surprisingly, God also used the experience to remind me of His calling on my life. How so?
Like the typical missionary, this couple was making a desperate plea for funds from anyone willing to listen. They were also taking precious time away from their mission field and gospel work in order to raise financial support, knowing their work is always in jeopardy if the pledges aren’t kept. As much as my heart was touched by their emotional appeal, I left the meeting thanking God for churches and pastors who support Great Commission work through the Cooperative Program.
Why am I so thankful? Three reasons rise to the top among many.
First, because I am convinced that CP mission dollars go far. For example, just as a gallon of milk is cheaper at Walmart than at the gas station, the evidence suggests that a dollar invested in the strategic focus and expertise of the largest overseas missionary sending agency in the history of missions (the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention) can get more boots on the ground among the world’s unreached than a dollar given to support an independent missionary.
Second, CP mission dollars have high accountability. At home and abroad, bureaucracy in Southern Baptist missions has been deeply cut, resulting in much leaner support and accountability structures. But those structures still exist and are very effective at providing appropriate oversight and accountability to frontline missionaries that will safeguard the work.
Third, CP mission dollars are focused. Instead of every missionary taking time from the harvest field for extensive travel to do fundraising, the Southern Baptist system provides for a limited number of people to promote the work among the churches and keeps the missionaries in the field.
Listening to this passionate couple share about their work and how they longed to return to it, I realized anew the privilege God has given me. When I accepted my current ministry assignment from the Kentucky Baptist Convention Mission Board, I told the members of the Mission Board that I would consider being “Cooperative Program Fundraiser-in-Chief” as one of my primary responsibilities. Why? Because I believe in, not so much a Southern Baptist program, but God’s Great Commission program, and I see how the Cooperative Program of Southern Baptists is accomplishing God Great Commission “program.” And I am grateful for the privilege of setting before our churches the cause of Christ in Kentucky and to the ends of the earth so those missionaries who are the frontlines can stay on the frontlines.