Our little church just rocked along slowly until our pastor invited a preacher to come from the State Board of Missions in Montgomery to preach a “stewardship revival.” Even as a kid, I enjoyed his explanation of tithing and his illustrations of supporting Gospel work. Our church was changed through that revival.
I was changed through a revival at another Alabama Baptist church. My parents allowed me to attend the revival the summer before my senior year of high school. I was born again. The following month, my pastor asked me to fill the pulpit for him. I respectfully and fearfully declined, but a home missionary — who was serving in New York state and speaking at our church — encouraged me to give it a try. That was 47 years ago.
The Alabama Baptist preachers’ school back then was Samford University. I applied and found that the Cooperative Program supported the school and “preacher boys” like me. I could afford to attend that beautiful and scholarly Baptist college because of Alabama Baptist churches giving through the Cooperative Program.
I was ordained at age 19, serving a church in Selma Association as summer youth director and interim pastor, teaching stewardship to members and encouraging stewardship as a church. Later, I served two half-time churches in Butler Association, one of which gave 24 percent through the Cooperative Program.
The closest to a church fight was the budget business meeting when we did not increase the percentage. The other half-time church began budgeting a regular monthly percentage, rather than giving a once-a-year offering.
After graduating from Samford and working a year on a church staff, I enrolled at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., a Cooperative Program-supported institution. Seminary was virtually free, except for matriculation fees and living expenses. I received a world-class education because of the Cooperative Program.
God opened the door to return to Alabama and serve again on the staff of a strong CP-giving church. They called me as their pastor, and I gladly encouraged increasing CP percentage. God began dealing with me about foreign missions service, and our family of six (four kids) entrusted our support to God through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
For eight years, we learned two languages, and we worked to evangelize and congregationalize. It was humbling to be 100 percent dependent on the Cooperative Program giving I had been promoting for years.
Twenty years ago, God led me to the North Shelby Baptist Church and led them to call me as their pastor. We have always been strong in CP giving as well as Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong. Our kids benefited from Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions missionaries and ministries on the university campuses of Samford, Montevallo and Auburn.
Our oldest child went on semester break and summer mission projects. Our second-born, Joy Love, was tapped at Montevallo to serve as a Baptist Campus Ministries International Mission Board student summer missionary in Mexico in 1999. She went home to heaven from there, due to the waves and currents of Hurricane Adrian.
Our Alabama Baptist and Southern Baptist family brought her body home and supported us. She had been an MK (missionary kid) and then got to serve on her own, because of CP support. She may still be cheering us all on from heaven to reach the world with the Gospel.
How can we fulfill the Great Commission? By praying, by going, and by giving — and there is no better way that we all can share in the work than by giving through the Cooperative Program!
Allan Murphy serves as senior pastor of North Shelby Baptist Church, Birmingham, and is a member of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions.