Using the Amazon as an example

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With numerous smaller tributaries contributing, the Amazon River becomes a marvel to behold. WIKIPEDIA COMMONS/Special

For years there has been some debate as to the source of the Amazon River. Throughout the 1700s, the Maranon River in northern Peru was thought to be the Amazon’s source. Compared to other tributaries, the Maranon held the largest volume of water flowing into the Amazon.

Then the Ucayali River, a lower extension of the Apurimac River took the crown for a while too as it had the longest tributary into the Amazon.

A National Geographic team established the Mismi as the source of the Amazon in 1971. There is a video produced by Dean Jacobs who takes his viewers to Nevado Mismi 17,000 feet up into the Peruvian Andes and shows water springing up out of a rock. He insists that spring of water is the source of the Amazon.

Then in 2000, a follow-up National Geographic expedition confirmed Lake Ticlla Cocha at the base of Mismi as the headwaters and the Apurimac as the longest upstream extension of the Amazon.

However, researcher James Contos and his team, using GPS tracking data and satellite imagery, discovered that the Mantaro River is about 10 percent longer than the Apurimac River.

Scientists have debated where the mighty Amazon River begins for at least four centuries, and at least five Peruvian rivers have been crowned as the source at some point since the 1600s.

Regardless of the exact source of the Amazon we can be certain that high up in the Andes when there is just the right amount of sunshine and the wind is blowing in a certain direction a glacier will begin to melt, creating the slightest dribble of water.

As that dribble joins with another dribble of water there is the sound of trickling water and the trickles combine to form a small stream of water.

Eventually, the streams flow into creeks and then into rivers and finally there is the confluence of the rivers into the mighty Amazon. From its most distant source the Amazon flows 4,000 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

The Amazon is the world’s largest river and the lifeblood of the world’s largest ecosystem. The river spans two-fifths of an entire continent; and is home to a variety of animals and plants that dwell in its lush, evergreen environment.

According to the New World Encyclopedia, the Amazon is the mightiest river in the world by volume, with six times greater total river flow than the next largest rivers combined, and the most extensive drainage basin in the world.

The mouth of the Amazon is approximately 200 miles wide and it flows with such volume and force that the average discharge of water into the Atlantic Ocean is approximately 175,000 m3 per second, or between 1/5th and 1/6th of the total discharge into the oceans of all the world’s rivers. The discharge is so great that the Atlantic Ocean is a fresh water sea 60 miles from the mouth of the river.

Jimmy Draper, former SBC and LifeWay Christian Resources president, shared much of the above information in a meeting I attended in Fort Worth last week. He then explained that the Amazon is an example of cooperation. When all the trickles and streams and tributaries come together they form a mighty, life-giving river.

That kind of cooperation and combining of resources can make a church great and make a convention great. Together a synergy is formed that can produce phenomenal results. Synergy is the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, agents, or churches to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

For those believers and churches that want to enlarge their influence, try cooperation. Joining other believers in prayer, witness, and giving provides greater energy, accountability, and effectiveness.

For example, when thousands of Baptist churches give through the Cooperative Program a mighty river of blessing is the result, producing a vast missionary enterprise, an effective church planting network, an extensive collegiate ministry, and more spiritual benefits than can be numbered.

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