I have vivid memories of my boyhood church experiences. I remember the Panamanian church building where I attended. My mother served as the church organist, and we attended almost every time the doors opened. These humble beginnings of Christian education and commitment on my part were the result of Southern Baptist mission endeavors in Central America. It was Cooperative Program gifts that provided the resources to build the church in Panama. It was Cooperative Program gifts that supplied support for missionaries to preach God's message of salvation. It was Cooperative Program gifts that proved to be the catalyst for a missionary pastor and Sunday school teacher to lead me to Jesus.
I am the result of Southern Baptists who cooperatively pray, give, and go to tell the Good News. I am thankful to God for what He has done through Southern Baptists to bring men and women and boys and girls to a saving knowledge of Jesus.
After surrendering to preach, I moved to Canada to further my education and served as a summer missionary in New York. That experience taught me the link between missions and giving. As I walked the streets of New York City, and worked in migrant missions in New York State, I realized that the resources for ministry came from Cooperative Program gifts.
I also served as a summer missionary in California. While in the Golden State I enrolled in California Baptist College (now University), also supported by the Cooperative Program gifts of California Southern Baptists. During my college years, I became pastor of First Spanish Southern Baptist Church in Pico Rivera. Once again, the Cooperative Program impacted my life and ministry. Cooperative Program gifts, through the Home Mission Board, helped secure the church property and provided pastoral salary supplement.
After serving as pastor twelve years, I moved to the California Southern Baptist Convention, which gave me a state perspective of Cooperative Program ministries. In 1977, I went to the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) which gave me a national perspective on missions, and the Cooperative Program's impact on ministry and evangelism throughout the nation.
At HMB, while working in language missions, and later in planning and coordination, I marveled at how Cooperative Program gifts helped new churches, innovative ministries, evangelistic outreaches, and much more.
Today, serving California Southern Baptists, I have opportunity to see and hear the marvelous things being accomplished in a state that is 90 percent unchurched – where 30 million people are headed for a hopeless eternity. Because of Cooperative Program support by faithful congregations our state convention and NAMB are able to minister and evangelize. Many congregations give sacrificially so that missionaries can share the Good News of the gospel in California, throughout the United States, and around the world.
There are many avenues of supporting missions, but I believe none more effective than the "rope of sand" we call the Cooperative Program. I don't believe there is another denomination like the SBC supporting such a spectrum of ministries and mission opportunities.
Imagine what God can do in and through your congregation. Look at what he was able to do with a young Royal Ambassador on the mission field in Panama forty-six years ago. To God be the glory, great things He has done!