COOPERATION FROM A MISSIONARY'S PERSPECTIVE
Planting a church in the least-reached city in Russia. Leading a Russian woman from a difficult background to Christ – and hearing how she led a Central Asian Muslim to Christ on a business trip. Seeing God make incredible divine connections so that the Gospel could be proclaimed among unreached Roma Gypsies in Russia. If you gave to the Cooperative Program, then you were a part of the things God did during my family’s ministry overseas.
Before moving to New England two years ago, my husband and I served as church planters with the International Mission Board for seven years. It was an amazing, challenging, beautiful, stressful season of life, and I thank God for using us in this capacity. I am also thankful to Southern Baptists for enabling us to follow God’s calling. In fact, while we were serving overseas, we became acquainted with other missionaries – some serving through different organizations, and some sent by individual churches. And although every system has its own weaknesses, I firmly believe that the International Mission Board is by far the best missionary sending agency there is.
For those who don’t know, the International Mission Board is the Southern Baptist mission agency for sending missionaries overseas. It is supported by two streams of income. The first is the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which is collected every December in thousands of Southern Baptist churches across the nation. The second is the Cooperative Program.
When your church gives to the Cooperative Program through the Baptist Convention of New England, your gift impacts numerous areas. A portion of it provides for Gospel work right here in New England. The remainder of it supports national and international ministries, including the six Southern Baptist seminaries, the North American Mission Board (which sends church planters to locations in the US and Canada), and the International Mission Board. It is truly an Acts 1:8 strategy.
The benefits to churches are clear – even the smallest church can have a part in reaching the entire globe with the Gospel. But what are the benefits to the missionaries?
- Unlike missionaries with many large organizations, IMB missionaries are fully funded. To be honest, living overseas is difficult. Between learning a language, coping with culture shock, dealing with security concerns, navigating new ways of doing life, and searching for Gospel inroads, it was a relief to know that our monthly income was reliable. We knew that our bills would be paid each month and that our support would never be late or suddenly withdrawn. We were able to build a team of prayer partners without the uncomfortable obligation of constantly soliciting donations.
- Unlike missionaries who are sent by individual churches, IMB missionaries have access to an abundance of resources and an incredible network of fellow missionaries. Before even leaving for the field, we attended an excellent training program in the US, and each year missionaries in our region gathered for additional training, as well as fellowship and English worship. Some years this was a lifeline to both us and our children. And when the unexpected happened – from schooling issues to a medical emergency to having a visa revoked – we knew that there was someone experienced nearby to help us work through difficult situations.
So on behalf of my family and the Russians God graciously allowed us to share with, thank you for funding Great Commission work around the world through the Cooperative Program. You not only supported us – you supported us well.
Kimber Ross serves as communications coordinator at the Baptist Convention of New England.