CP Cooperative Program Making a Difference
A Cooperative Program Testimony
If the Cooperative Program were a gene, it would be a dominant one in my DNA.
My parents, both lifelong Southern Baptists, went to Charleston Southern University (when it was called Baptist College of Charleston) and North Greenville University (when it was still North Greenville College). My father attended New Orleans Seminary. He pastored two Southern Baptist churches, one of them for more than 20 years. (He would have pastored more but was rendered permanently disabled in a car accident while still in his early 40s.)
I grew up in a small, rural, solidly Southern Baptist church, participating in Mission Friends, GAs, Vacation Bible School, winter youth camp, and summer youth music camp. After graduating from high school, I served with the North American Mission Board as a summer missionary in St. Louis, Missouri.
It continued into college: by the end of my freshman year at the University of South Carolina, I was, as I put it at the time, “up to my eyeballs” in Baptist Student Union involvement. I remained involved all through college, working one summer at Ridgecrest Conference Center, one summer as a student missionary in Casa Grande, Arizona, one year as a pianist for Dentsville Baptist Church, and one summer as an intern at the S.C. Baptist Convention (SCBC).
That internship morphed into part-time and then full-time work after I graduated. Six years later my husband and I went to Golden Gate Seminary, in some figurative sense coming full circle with my parents.
As a lifelong Southern Baptist, I’d always been vaguely aware of the Cooperative Program. But as a denominational worker, I began to learn the intricacies of the Cooperative Program; and I felt an increasing debt of gratitude to the thousands and even millions of individuals who made it work.
It was Cooperative Program funds that subsidized the winter youth camp I attended in my formative middle school years.
Those funds provided for the two summer youth music camps that were significant to my spiritual and musical growth.
Those funds helped pave the way for me to have an enormously life-changing summer missions experience in St. Louis and another significant one in Arizona.
Those funds were incalculably instrumental to “my” Baptist Student Union, which fundamentally formed me as a follower of Jesus, second only to my parents and home church for their measure of influence on my life.
Those funds provided my very salary during my seven years at the SCBC—years of professional, personal, and spiritual growth as I had the privilege of traveling the state and even the world telling the stories of how South Carolina Baptists were reaching their worlds for Jesus.
And then those funds provided an affordable and quality theological education for me and my husband, even in the San Francisco Bay Area, far from the birthplace of Southern Baptists.
So when people ask me about the Cooperative Program, I’m glad to explain how it works; I’m gladder to share the story of how it has positively benefited me personally; I’m especially glad, above all, to share how it is used to grow the kingdom of God all around the world.
It isn’t perfect. It’s far from perfect. But that’s the world we live in—far from perfect. Anything designed by men (even inspired ones), and implemented by humans—which all funding methods are—will fall short of the Lord’s perfect plans. Nonetheless, the Lord has used it, in immeasurable ways, for nearly a century.
I am currently serving as a missionary with Resources for the Blind International. It’s a fantastic organization that serves the visually impaired of all ages and proactively shares the good news of Jesus in every act of service. It’s not affiliated with any denomination, and I am required to raise support for my salary. And I will tell you, there are some distinct advantages to this funding method: my supporters feel a greater sense of involvement in the ministry because they know me personally; I feel a keen sense of stewardship because I know my supporters personally; and the Lord has increased my faith, because I rely on his support through his people in a very tangible way.
And there are distinct disadvantages as well: my availability to serve fluctuates as my support level fluctuates; some of the time I would spend in ministry is instead spent on fund-raising; and, most obviously, more can be accomplished through the combined giving of thousands of individuals and churches than through a few dozen.
So, as a believer who has been on the inside and “outside” tracks of the Cooperative Program, I can say it is worth keeping and worth personal and church-wide involvement. Through it, the gospel travels from rural South Carolina, to San Francisco, to the Ukraine, and to the uttermost reaches of the earth.