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Volunteer Missions: an example of cooperation


Joe Westbury/Index

Nearly 90 volunteers from 30 churches, led by Noonday Baptist Association’s Builders for Christ, traveled 1,200 miles to New England in 2004 to help Providence Baptist Church build its new sanctuary. In this file photo, then-pastor Brad Graves enjoys a light-hearted moment with Georgia Baptist construction volunteers as the church begins to take shape. Graves said the presence of the Georgia Baptists, armed with hammers and saws, was a topic of conversation in the small community and helped the Epping, N.H., church gain visibility. Such experiences are an example of how cooperation, whether it be in praying, giving, or going, is vital to a healthy denomination.

Mike Gravette is Georgia Baptists’ state missionary who develops ministry opportunities for all Georgia Baptists to become mission partners throughout Georgia, North America, and around the world.

Gravette declares, “There is a vast difference between building a partnership and just going on mission trips. Through our office the Georgia Baptist Convention acts as a general contractor with the owners (our missionaries, our mission boards, international Baptist Unions, and local churches).

“We go to places near and far to meet with the ‘owners’ and work with them to develop an overall plan or strategy to build the kind of ‘spiritual house’ the missionaries and local churches have envisioned.

“Then we ‘subcontract’ partnerships and mission trips to Georgia Baptists who help develop the house. To accomplish our objectives we have to take a team of physicians and nurses from one church, a crew of carpenters from another church, and personal soul winners from another church to accomplish the overall objective.

“Like true subcontractors, they may never see the finished product, but their part is vital to the overall health and well-being of the ‘house’ (mission project).

“As a general contractor we are in constant contact with the owners to make sure the ‘house’ (project) is being built efficiently and in accordance with the owners’ wishes as they are led by the Holy Spirit. Our hope and prayer is that when we conclude one of our partnerships, we leave a Kingdom House (a well defined missions project) that brings glory to God.”


A mosaic endeavor

According to Gravette the mission partnership concept allows the GBC to get the big picture from the various mission fields and put all the detailed pieces together like a beautiful mosaic of ministry so that the “house” (endeavor) is healthy, complete, and lacking nothing.

Gravette’s description of partnership missions is similar to the intended design of the jigsaw puzzle. In a jigsaw puzzle each piece usually has a small part of the picture on it; when complete, all the pieces produce a complete picture.

The combined instruments that comprise an orchestra present the same concept. Who would want to hear a cymbals solo or even a tuba solo? Yet, when all the instruments are combined together into one symphonic masterpiece the sound is incredible.

That is exactly why cooperation is important. We can do far more together than we can alone.

Pastor Mark Tonkery says, “The foot, for example, has 26 bones, 19 muscles, 107 ligaments. Walking upstairs requires the cooperation of 300 muscles. The sense receptors in your foot let your brain know exactly what kind of surface you’re walking on – rocks, ice, sand – and your foot immediately adapts. In the course of your life, you will walk 100,000 miles.”

Walking, perambulating, moving forward requires cooperation.


Cooperation brings results

It has been wisely said, “If you want to be incrementally better: Be competitive. If you want to be exponentially better: Be cooperative.”

Gravette explains, “I am convinced that the record number of baptisms among our International Mission Board personnel over the past few years are a direct result of a growth in well-orchestrated short term mission partnerships.

“Many of those who go on short term mission trips will be called by God to become career missionaries. In fact the IMB says that a full 90 percent of their career missionaries come about as a result of people who are spiritually impacted by short term mission trips.”

The GBC Annual Church Profile indicates that 139,000 Georgia Baptists were involved in short term mission trips in the 2008-2009 church year. Gravette longs for the day when 50 percent of Georgia Baptists are involved in short term mission trips.

“I want to see the number of career missionaries double” declares Gravette; “and I want to see Georgia Baptists build the strongest and most enduring and influential partnerships ever – partnerships that will impact millions of people for Jesus every year.”

It can happen as we experience the grace of cooperation!


This is the third in a series of articles which will appear on the back page throughout the year. Since the inception of the Cooperative Program in 1925 it has been a proven method to sustain missions and evangelism efforts of Southern Baptists throughout the world.

Your church can touch the world with a powerful witness for Christ by working toward 10 percent to support multiple mission and ministry causes through the Cooperative Program.


Accept the challenge…

• Every member tithing

• Every church working toward at least 10 percent through the Cooperative Program

• Together we can experience the grace of cooperation


Thank you for sending your gifts to:
Dr. J. Robert White
Executive Director
Georgia Baptist Convention
6405 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth, GA 30097