Mission work is the thing that binds us together as Arkansas Baptists. Because of that, we are associated with missionaries all over our world, including some in extremely sensitive and high-risk locations. Carrying out mission work in these sensitive areas is an incredible challenge, but it is also incredibly important. Because of the Cooperative Program, each and every Arkansas Baptist sitting in the pew on Sunday is directly connected to these global missions — and in more ways than you might think.
One of the most sensitive locations on the planet is Southeast Asia, a part of the world where there are 643 unreached people groups. These people groups combined contain 467 million people. Because of the tight security needed in this area, very few details can be shared about the work there. But rest assured that work is being done, and it’s being done at a high, high level. This work takes money, and it is only possible because of financial contributions from a variety of sources, including every church in the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC). Here’s how that journey works:
1) You tithe to your church,
2) your church contributes financially to the ABSC,
3) a large portion of all ABSC funds goes to the national Southern Baptist Convention (SBC),
4) and the SBC contributes directly and powerfully to global missions.
Thus, each Arkansas Baptist is directly responsible for global mission work, all with the convenience of the tithe you already contribute to your local church. This is how cooperative missions works, financially. Sometimes the needs are deeper, though, and Arkansas Baptists can come alongside missionaries to meet these deeper needs too. The workers in Southeast Asia have a lot of needs on the field, and not all of these needs can be met with finances.
For example, each year missionaries in that part of the world gather for training, professional development, encouragement, and rest. Many of these missionaries are in secluded parts of the world, rarely having face-to-face contact with anyone who speaks their native language. Most have online access to communicate with leadership back in the United States, but in many cases this communication is limited both in frequency and in the topics they can openly discuss for fear of being watched online.
The annual meeting of the missionaries is the one chance they may have each year to take time away from the field and recharge their batteries, reconnect with their peers and leadership, and renew their commitment to the challenging work. The annual meeting is absolutely vital. Because mission work is often a family affair, there are large numbers of children in tow with the missionaries attending this meeting. This means that childcare is a real and sizable need each and every year. And because of the sensitive nature of the work being done, they can’t hire just anyone to do it.
For the last several years, Arkansas Baptists have provided for all of the childcare needed by sending high-quality and fully vetted volunteers to the other side of the world to take this large concern off of the table for these missionaries. This is a huge service for workers on the field and the value of it can hardly be put into words — but do you see how it goes beyond financial support? These volunteers sacrifice their time and comfort to make a difficult journey across the world, all in direct and faithful service of global missions. Their sacrifice can inspire and challenge us all to become more involved. What can you sacrifice to support missions?
This type of direct involvement with missions also leads to and enables new opportunities. Because of the willingness of Arkansas Baptists to go, we have developed a women’s retreat, which will be focused around issues women face in different parts of the world. If service at the primary annual meeting had not been so successful over the last few years, the women’s conference would not be possible. Service begets service and leads into further opportunities. Arkansas Baptists like you made this possible.
When Arkansans are directly involved in missions, it inspires other Arkansans to do more. Another example of this is tied to one of our partner universities in the state. Because of connections between missionaries and Arkansas Baptists, an Arkansas restaurant owned by a native of Southeast Asia was connected to an Arkansas university professor (this article is vague on details for the sake of security). This relationship grew and eventually led to a connection between the professor and an Arkansas church that is largely made up of people from his home area. Now, the plan is for the professor and the church to collaborate on a mission trip that several Arkansas college students will be able to attend. This opportunity would not have come up if Arkansans were not active in global missions. We are stronger than the sum of our parts and the service we do often builds to something greater.
The Cooperative Program is the bridge that links us to global missions and that empowers cooperative missions to grow exponentially and here’s the secret: It’s much bigger than just money. Yes, when we pool our resources, our impact goes much further, but the beauty of true cooperation is that it goes much further than dollars and cents. We serve a God who loves us, as people, and that’s why we serve Him, not simply as sponsors or subscribers, but as people. That means we support missions with our time, our prayers, and our very lives. The calling is that big, and the work is that important. It’s worth sacrificing for.
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