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CP EMPHASIS (First-Person, Kenneth S. Hemphill): Efficiency worth celebrating

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–I doubt there is anyone who doesn’t already know that it is Breast Cancer Awareness month. If you watched any sporting event over the weekend, you were time and again reminded with splotches of pink. I saw pink armbands, pink shoes, pink towels and pink hats. Many of these pink items were sported by burly athletes who would not normally be caught anywhere near the “pink department.” Boarding a plane in Dallas, I noticed that one of the planes had a large pink ribbon painted down the entire side of the plane.

Much of the money being raised is designated for research to help find a cure for this dreaded cancer that will impact 1 out of every 8 women. I have a personal interest in this cause since my wife of 40 years was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and underwent treatment for the cancer that was attacking her body. Not long after her treatments our family participated in a 5K walk for the cure. I am sure that many of the NFL football players were sporting their “pink” because this dreaded disease has touched their wife, mother or sister.

I am delighted to see such a visible and overwhelming response to breast cancer awareness. You see, I am the father of three beautiful daughters and I now have four lovely granddaughters and I want to see this devastating disease conquered so that they can grow up not having to fear this potential killer.

On one of my recent flights, the in-flight magazine had an article about the efforts to eradicate breast cancer and the author talked about the progress and the fund-raising needs. The article mentioned the efficiency of the fund-raising effort by indicating that only 15 percent of the money given was required to pay the expenses of raising and that 85 percent would therefore be available to fight cancer. It was obvious that they were delighted to report the efficiency with which they were able to raise and distribute the funds.

The mention of the percentages made me think about the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program. Do you have any idea how efficient the Cooperative Program is in delivering money for ministry? The money received by the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention is distributed by a formula voted on by the messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention. I can proudly tell you that 96.43 percent of the funds are distributed to the two mission agencies and the six seminaries. While that is exciting news, it really doesn’t tell the entire story. The cost of promoting and collecting the Cooperative Program funds is only 2.26 percent (and that is counting the entire SBC Executive Committee budget which is charged with CP promotions at the national level, but also much more). About 1.14 percent of the national CP budget supports the conduct of the SBC annual meeting and other costs related to convention business.

Now, that is efficient, and you may be wondering how we can do so much for so little. That is the power of our cooperative arrangements which links state conventions with the national convention in both promotion and collection of the Cooperative Program dollar.

I had two other impressions from the Lord as I thought about the parallels between cancer awareness month and the Cooperative Program. While cancer is a horrible disease, we are fighting an even more deadly disease and that is sin which leads both to death and eternal separation from a Holy God. This disease will impact 1 out of 1 persons around the world — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

By the way, we are not searching for a cure! The cure was provided 2,000 years ago when Jesus died on the cross of Calvary. This cure for the sin problem is 100 percent effective for all — “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

We are confronting a problem (sin) which will infect 100 percent of the world’s population. We have a cure that is 100 percent effective and we have a cooperative method of funding our global enterprise that gets 98.86 percent of every dollar contributed to national causes into ministry or facilitating work. Now that’s worth celebrating.
Kenneth S. Hemphill is the SBC’s national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth and the former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Read “Seek First” daily devotionals by Hemphill and others at www.auxanopress.com.

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  • Kenneth S. Hemphill