On a shelf, right behind my desk, is a Bible given to me by my parents on my seventh birthday. On the front page of the Bible are several names of international missionaries who came through our house when my dad was stationed at Clark Air Force Base.

I was just a child, but I can still remember these heroes of the faith coming through our church there in the Philippines and spending time in our home.

As I grew, my father retired from the military and answered God’s call to the ministry. His first church — First Baptist Church, Boaz — had three International Mission Board couples on the field. I always enjoyed hearing their stories and being amazed at the world in which they ministered. It was then that I became aware of the Cooperative Program.

I’m the product of the CP. My life was impacted by missionaries who were funded by the CP. I graduated from two of our seminaries, and the CP made that possible. I’ve been to several countries on short-term mission trips, and during that time I’ve met the great men and women who carry out God’s call to “go and make disciples of all nations.” They are there because of the CP.

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to serve on the board of trustees at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and on the Executive Committee and State Board of Missions of this great state. Both of those experiences have allowed me to be around great men and women who do incredible ministry, and much of that is possible because of the CP.

First Baptist Church, Pell City, is committed to the CP. We give 10 percent of our budget through CP because we know that we have One Mission, the Great Commission; One Program, the Cooperative Program; and Many Ministries, Great Commission Ministries.

I’m a Southern Baptist because of the CP. As we join together, we can accomplish more in our associations, in our state, in our nation and in our world.

John Thweatt serves as pastor of First Baptist Church, Pell City. In November, he was elected president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention.

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