EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an expanded article based on the 2020 Cooperative Program Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. For more information, please visit www.oklahomabaptists.org/cp.

In what he says was a “small” raised-bed garden, James Swain raked, spaded and watered what grew into “tons” of tomatoes and bell peppers he gave away last summer. He distributed different items in the “toolboxes” given this winter to Oklahoma Baptists’ four new regional ministry partners and four affinity ministry partners.

“It’s a new structure and new strategy,” Swain said. “One of our values as Oklahoma Baptists is a respect for context. We’re trying to learn from our pastors and leaders what their specific needs are in their setting.

“The top of our toolbox is the personal and family wellness of the pastor,” Swain continued. “We think one of the main reasons churches struggle is because pastors are not healthy. We want to do things to strengthen our pastors and their families—things that will enhance personal and family health.”

Another area of focus for the Church Relations group is the transition time between pastors.

“About 30 percent of our churches a year have a pastoral change,” Swain said. “That’s a transitional time, a time we can be a guide for them, to help them become focused on where the Lord is leading and help them find a pastor who’s a good fit for them in their context.”

Swain graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in religion, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1992 with a master’s degree in Christian education, and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2008 with a doctor of ministry degree.

He and Julie have been married 30 years. They have two grown children, a son and a daughter and one grandson.

“I have a very strong commitment to daily Bible reading,” Swain said. “That early morning Bible reading and quiet time is probably the greatest priority of my day.”

Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together. Learn more at www.oklahomabaptists.org/CP