Despite being raised in Baptist churches most of my life, the North American Mission Board and Cooperative Program were foreign organizations to me. Before I became a church planter’s wife, I had very little working knowledge of what it was or what purpose it served. Today, my understanding of the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program has deepened. Instead of seeing it as a distant, corporate entity, I recognize it as a friend and resource, equipped and eager to maximize efforts in aiding church planters and their families to reach people for the glory of God.
Bryson and I have been married for a little over 5 years. I knew when he proposed that his passion was to reach as many people as possible with the gospel of Jesus. It was mine too, so we made a good match. Soon after our wedding, we moved from our home state of Texas to Arizona. Six months after we moved, God led us to a small Southern Baptist church plant in North Phoenix called Valley Life Church. We quickly recognized the mighty work God was doing through this church to reach the community with the gospel of Jesus and were eager to jump on board. The church’s vision is to “Make disciples and plant churches.” It was a matter of time before Bryson’s desire to plant was married to a real opportunity. When my husband started his paid internship with NAMB, we were in an unusually challenging season of life. Bryson worked long, tiresome hours as a car salesmen to make ends meet and our time with him at home was minimal. Our family had expanded to include a feisty little boy and I was expecting baby number two. I knew that if all went according to plan, and he was able to plant a church in 3 years time, our family would be well supported by this organization which poured so much genuine love and care into its church planters.
That was two and half years ago, and in the course of time God has used NAMB to encourage, equip, and enable our family to begin this journey of church planting. Today my husband has planted the 4th Valley Life Church, and we’re so excited to help build a legacy of making disciples and planting churches. Friends and family often ask me about our church plant and how I feel about Bryson being a pastor. Sometimes their excitement for us is coupled with a sympathetic caveat about how hard it will be on the family since pastors are often “on call”.
For our family though, it is the opposite.
We are so incredibly thankful to the Cooperative Program, which has directly helped Bryson to get ahead of his fundraising needs by financially contributing to our church plant. For the very first time in 5 years of marriage, he has a job that consistently allows him to be home before dark to spend precious time with his family. Honestly, we are only 3 solid weeks into this new life. Bryson and I are calling it the honeymoon phase, because it has been so sweet. Now that he is able to devote the bulk of his time to our church plant, a huge load has been taken off my plate. For one, I love his job. It doesn’t steal hours away from our family and I recognize the good fruit his work is producing in our marriage, our children, and the people that make up our church. Knowing our families’ financial needs are met affirms the dream God has given me to raise our babies without the need to find an extra job to pay our bills. Being a Southern Baptist church planter has been such a blessing. I am grateful to Southern Baptist churches who participate in the Cooperative Program, to NAMB, our sending church (VL Tramonto) and all those individuals who have helped our family during this exciting new season of church planting.