I’m amazed at what God is doing across Tennessee through His people and through the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
In Dandridge, 15 more boys were recently saved, baptized, and set on the road to discipleship at a detention facility. These precious younger brothers in Christ add to the harvest of more than 100 new believers who have come to Jesus over the past three years at the facility through the ministry of Swannsylvania Baptist Church.
Just last year we saw 95 college students come to faith in Christ through our Baptist Collegiate Ministries on university campuses across our state. More than 4,700 students are involved in BCM and 152 of them are preparing for church-related vocations.
If you’ve ever been to a Tennessee Youth Evangelism Conference you know what an amazing ministry it is. Every year hundreds of youth give their lives to Jesus. We had 712 this past year. Multiply that over YEC’s 50 years and that ministry alone is responsible for thousands coming to saving faith in Jesus.
Here’s another incredible story. Last year more than 238,900 people were fed through compassion ministries at local churches and ministry centers across the state, and through those service opportunities, we saw 508 professions of faith and 147 baptisms.
I could go on, but the bottom line is this: God’s Spirit is moving across Tennessee, people are coming to Jesus, God is using Tennessee Baptists, and the Cooperative Program plays a major role in making it all happen.
This Sunday (April 8) we celebrate Cooperative Program Sunday, and it is worth celebrating. For more than 90 years the Cooperative Program is how we as Southern Baptists have funded our Great Commission missions initiatives. There has never been a more productive method by which a group of people have been able to so comprehensively support the advancement of the gospel, from across the street to the ends of the earth. As a pastor of over 34 years, it was a joy to walk with churches that grew dramatically and generously in their Cooperative Program giving. They understood how the Cooperative Program financially supported this vast SBC eco-system of Great Commission work.
Just think about it. Literally millions of people have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ through these decades because Southern Baptists came together to provide mission support to those called out from among our churches. That in itself is reason to celebrate Cooperative Program Sunday.
However — and here’s my challenge — we can’t allow the best days of our missions endeavors to be in the past. The world is crying out for peace and we know the only way it will ever experience peace is when men are reconciled to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that, any way you slice it, Tennessee is a mission field. I see it everywhere I go. Just last week I traveled 800 miles across our state and saw spiritual lostness everywhere. Nearly four million people — four million — have no relationship to our Savior. We have nearly 150 people groups from around the world – more than 35 of them among the world’s most unreached with the gospel – who have never even heard the name of Jesus, let alone the peace He can bring to their hearts. We must give more to advance the light more into the darkness.
In the midst of celebrating all I see the Lord doing in our state, I feel a heavy burden in my soul just thinking about how much work there is to be done. Jesus tells us in John 9:4, “We must do the works of Him who sent Me while it is day. Night is coming when no one can work” (CSB). I do know this; individuals and individual churches aren’t going to get it done. Apart from each other, we will never adequately reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.
But I also know this: God has multiplied our cooperative effort through the years and I believe He will continue to do so in the future as we are faithful stewards of the resources we designate for missions through the Cooperative Program.
Please, this Sunday, celebrate what God has done through the Cooperative Program in the past, and at the same time resolve to be a part of the future.
It is a joy to be on this journey with you.