From Chris Crain, Director
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August 26, 2016, 12:00 AM

We Need Each Other

I remember praying the final prayer for our Wednesday night worship service. As I finished praying, my life changed in an unpleasant way. The weather alarm sounded. Then, thunder boomed, and the church went dark. As a young, part-time pastor working my way through seminary, I had never dealt with a severe weather situation in a church. “Everyone remain calm and move into the hallway,” I shouted. Although our church was safe, we began to get word that many of the families in our close-knit community had been impacted by an F-5 tornado that rumbled through western Birmingham. 

By sunrise, I was confronted with a frightening reality: I was ill-equipped to bring hope or healing to those who were left in the wake of this fatal disaster. This was a time of "firsts" for me. It was the first natural disaster that I had experienced as a pastor. It was the first time I had to deal with death on such a scale. It was the first opportunity I had to organize a church to face a crisis. It was the first time I stood in front of someone's home and cried with them in a time of total loss. Most importantly, it was the first time I was able to experience the comfort of Southern Baptists working together. 

Imagine my excitement and appreciation when I discovered that Alabama Baptists along with men and women from other states were arriving nearby to bring supplies and to assist in clean-up efforts. Because of the Cooperative Program, state missionaries were able to help in the recovery process. In that terrible circumstance, God gave me a deep appreciation for what can be done when churches participate together through the Cooperative Program. Since that galvanizing moment in my life, I have supported the Cooperative Program wholeheartedly. 

I have been blessed with opportunities to meet missionaries from all over North America and the world—men and women who are supported by the Cooperative Program. Many of these faithful missionaries have been guests in our mission home during their furloughs. Each missionary has expressed to me their conviction that Southern Baptists have the most efficient way of placing and keeping missionaries on the field. 

I am grateful for the comprehensiveness of the Cooperative Program. Churches of all sizes and types partner through the Cooperative Program to reach the world. Your church does not have to be a certain size or of a particular worship style to participate in a global missionary effort. I am amazed when I consider that churches both large and small, in many locations, assisted me through the Cooperative Program as I attended New Orleans Seminary and my wife Carol as she attended Judson College. Churches can give with confidence, knowing that they are in a partnership that has stood the test of time. 

Over the past several years, I pastored a church located on two campuses-one campus in eastern Birmingham and a newer campus in Margaret (north of Trussville). Missionaries funded through the Cooperative Program provided wisdom and resources when we were adding a second location to our church. Associational, state and North American missionaries helped us to make sound decisions. Without their prayer and expertise, our church would not be as effective in reaching people for Jesus. Our church has learned that you can make a greater difference when you work in cooperation. 

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