Recently while waiting to be seated at a restaurant, I heard a voice call my name. I turned to see Alan Thompson, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Clairemont in San Diego and a member of the California Southern Baptist Convention Executive Board. Alan and a member of his congregation were just returning from a mission trip to Africa.
They were so excited about how God had worked during their trip. Alan also shared how God had blessed their congregation during 2010 to do more for missions than ever before. He explained that while average attendance had dropped during the year for a variety of reasons, their expenditures for mission causes totaled 42 percent of the church's receipts.
This congregation is one of the most generous mission givers around. Last year their income was $482,000; Alan said the congregation gave $202,000 to many mission causes during an economically depressed year. He proclaimed that there is much for which to be thankful.
I agree. One of the joys in my life is ministering with pastors and fellow believers to impact this world for Christ. While others may view the world with all of its problems, I am privileged to see God moving in amazing ways through His people. God is using Christians to call men, women, boys and girls to Himself in great numbers, and is accomplishing His will to the four corners of the Earth. Because of my brief encounter with my friend, Alan, I now have new and exciting reports of what God is doing in Africa.
April is Cooperative Program Month for Southern Baptists. It is a time for us to celebrate the marvelous tool we've embraced for more than 85 years to support state, national and international missions as well as a variety of other ministries. I personally believe it is an effective tool that has helped Southern Baptists develop one of the largest missionary forces of any denomination and/or organization in the world.
Cooperation is the key distinctive of Southern Baptists to give more, to do more for the glory of God and to enlarge His Kingdom. Cooperation among us is vital if we are to continue taking the gospel to a lost world. My prayer is that during this month of Cooperative Program emphasis, each congregation will find renewed commitment to reach the world for Christ, beginning here in California where California Southern Baptists can have the greatest impact on our communities.