A Picture of the Cooperative Program
In the latter part of September of 2014, there was an incredible rescue event that was caught on video out in Utah. An SUV with four teenagers aboard crashed into a barrier and went into a fast flowing creek that had risen because of flash floods. The major problem was that the SUV was upside down. In just a matter of seconds the lives of four teenagers were turned upside down and in jeopardy. A man nearby seeing the wreck and recognizing that somebody was in peril, threw caution to the wind and jumped in the water to try and help rescue whoever was inside. The man had virtually no thought or consideration for his own well-being and was facing an impossible task, especially when you consider he was even thinking about turning the vehicle over. That’s impossible. Sloshing through the water and getting up to the car, he lost his glasses without which he could not see clearly. When he arrived at the car and started doing what he could to bring help to the panicked kids inside, but soon, and I mean within seconds, two others and then two others and then another jumped in the water trying to get to the car to help.
You could imagine, with the water rushing by and the car upside down and people gathering and yelling, it was hard to know what to do or who to listen to, but the first guy in, by his own description, was screaming at people and telling them what to do, for he was convinced that they could turn the car upright. Another person and two more came until there were twelve or thirteen gathered around this car, and with one man’s helping give direction and encouraging everybody else, they began to pick up and push as hard as they could, and the car began to turn. They continued to strain, and within seconds the car was still in the creek but right-side up. It did not take long until people were calling it a miracle, and indeed, it had the markings of miraculous things. It was a miracle of courage and willingness to help, with cooperation and sacrifice in order to rescue people, get them out, and get them help. Several days later on the news I saw the video that someone was taking from the bank, and I saw the man interviewed who jumped in to make a difference. As I watched the clip on the news I realized that, in a sense, I was watching the Cooperative Program in action every day.
The Cooperative Program is the dynamic, structured vehicle that allows every individual and every church to take hold of a worldwide rescue program in the name of Jesus and make a difference around this world. What one man, or even one church, cannot accomplish alone, as sincere as we might be, and as passionate as we may be, it is impossible to do alone what thousands doing their part in joining together can do in letting this world know that Jesus Christ has come “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). I have heard people refer to the Cooperative Program as a dinosaur that does not have a place in today’s world or an ancient relic of mission service that is ineffective today. My only response would be to show me a Christian missionary movement that is as large, as far-reaching, as sustainable, as effective as what God has brought about through the thousands of Southern Baptist churches across the land who say we will help to rescue people and families all across this planet. Together we can get it done and together we are doing it today.
When Jesus said to his disciples that they would be witnesses unto him both in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth, the question becomes how you can you be everywhere, all the time, reaching everybody. There may be other answers to this huge question, but I do not believe there is any answer that is in place, impacting as many lives in as many places as the mission work supported by the Cooperative Program. There are needs out there everywhere. There are lives and cars turned upside down and one-by-one, together, empowered by a passion to do the work of Jesus, we can turn things right-side up. God bless you as you faithfully give and lovingly respond as Jesus leads you and your church.