By K.J. Kennell
The Cooperative Program began impacting my life before I even realized what it was.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, my involvement began when I was only six years old as a camper attending Mountain Meadows Ranch at Christopher Creek. As a young camper, I was naive to the fact that churches around the state gave faithfully to ensure that kids like me had a place to attend each summer and learn about Christ. But this is truly where my story began.
My time at kids camp led to a lasting relationship with Deb Wolfrey, the camp’s director and one of the most influential people in my life. Deb is the key factor as to why I, along with my twin brother, Kody, and our best friend, Kelcey Fry, pursued summer missions in 2004 through the Valley Rim Association.
I often look back and wonder what Deb saw in the three of us — having to deal with the elk accident, the shooting range and the border patrol incident … to name a few. However, through her deep insight (or lack thereof), she encouraged our service.
It was because of this that I had the privilege of helping a young boy reach the decision to accept Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. This was one of the most impacting moments of my life. It was at this moment that I realized what it meant to accomplish something with an eternal value, which I would later realize is the ultimate goal of the Cooperative Program.
After receiving my calling into ministry during a mission trip to Mississippi in my senior year of high school, I began looking for ways to serve the Lord. One of the first opportunities I received was as a staffer at Zona Camp.
Being a college staffer at Zona opened the door to joining the Zona Camp admin team, where I have now served for four years. As a part of the admin team, I have had the unique perspective of seeing how much the Cooperative Program funds the camp, and, because of this funding, how many high school lives have been changed and dedicated to Christ.
My early years involved in the Cooperative Program were locally, statewide and nation-based. However, as I write this, I am preparing for my second two-week trip to Africa, this time with the state VBS team.
Two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit IMB missionaries John and Wanne Dina and to help train pastors in Quelimane. Though these two trips served different people groups and will use different methods, the core and purpose remains the same: to reach every person, in every place, for Christ and His Glory.
The Cooperative Program has transformed my life at every level: in my service, in my giving and in my perspective on sharing the gospel. I have learned that the Cooperative Program truly embodies Jesus’ command to “Go and Make Disciples.”
K.J. Kennell is minister to students at First Southern Baptist Church at Sahuaro Ranch in Glendale.