Get the Big Picture of Missions

“Why I Am a Baptist” was the title of a great sermon I heard years ago. In addition to a clear presentation on Baptist beliefs, the minister articulated an additional reason I have come to appreciate more with every passing year. The way we cooperate to accomplish missions efforts around our nation and world is distinctive of what it means to be Southern Baptist. From how we appoint and support missionaries to the plan for shared giving through the Cooperative Program, what we do together through our churches extends our reach further than if we tried to do it alone.

When I served as a missionary in St. Vincent, I was mindful of the fact I lived in a house and drove a car provided by Southern Baptists through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering®. The money we received to buy food and educate our children were gifts from individuals in churches who understood the importance of shared missions. The most striking reminder of how blessed we were occurred when our Swedish missionary friends left the island for three months each year to return home and raise financial support for the next nine months of service. I knew then the way we cooperate was unique and a special gift. People I had never met cared enough about me to pray and give so I could serve full-time without the added burden of returning home to be a fundraiser once a year.

Not everyone today seems to understand the importance of working together to advance the cause of missions. I recently had a call from a friend in a Southern Baptist church that had made a choice about its children’s missions program that had caused quite a stir. When asked why the church was choosing to write its own missions curriculum instead of using one of the many different options provided through WMU® and LifeWay®, the person gave a very disappointing answer. Basically, the church members only wanted their children to learn about missionaries supported directly by their church through their offerings. The fact that WMU tells the entire missions story, from across our nation to all parts of the world, was not something they were interested in. I fully support personalizing missions in our churches, but to deny children the opportunity to learn about the full scope of where our missionaries serve and how Baptists work together to touch the world seems rather shortsighted.

The minister gave me much to think about that day after his sermon. I was born into a Baptist family and married a Baptist minister, but today I choose to be a Baptist not only because of Baptist beliefs but also because of the way we cooperate for missions. In the spirit of cooperation, I want the next generation of children to know the larger missions story as well. From Alaska to New York to Houston, from Asia to Africa to South America, and in all the points between, I have the privilege of knowing I am a partner with our missionaries through my praying and giving. I feel blessed, and I hope you do as well.

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