In his book, Holy Sweat, author Tim Hansel tells the story of Clarence Jordan, a man with unusual talent and a total commitment to serving God and the poor.
Jordon was incredibly intelligent and had an amazing work ethic. He earned two PhD’s; one in agriculture and another in Biblical Greek. He could have chosen almost any profession, but he chose to serve the poor. In 1942, he founded the Koinonia Farm in Americus, Georgia, a community for poor whites and blacks.
His idea of loving the poor regardless of race did not go over well in Georgia at the time. Many locals attempted to stop his work. His farm workers had their tires slashed. In 1954, the Ku Klux Klan showed up with guns and set fire to every building on the farm. Only Dr. Jordon’s home was not burned, and it was riddled with bullets. The KKK chased everyone away except for one black family who refused to leave. Though the Klansmen wore masks, Dr. Jordon recognized many, including one who was a newspaper reporter.
The day after the violence the reporter returned to do a story on the attack. Amid the smoldering rubble he found the farm’s founder in a field hoeing and planting. He said, “I heard the awful news, and I came out to do a story on the tragedy of your farm closing.” As Dr. Jordon ignored him the reporter tried to make him lose his temper. Finally, he asked in a haughty voice, “Well, Dr. Jordon, you got two of them PhDs and you’ve put 14 years into this farm and there’s nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you think you’ve been?” The godly man replied, “About as successful as the cross. Sir, I don’t think you understand us. What we are about is not success but faithfulness. We’re staying. Good day.”
Dr. Jordon was good to his word. He and others rebuilt the Koinonia Farm. In 1965, millionaires Millard and Linda Fuller came to the farm for what they thought would be a two-hour visit. They were so touched they made Koinonia their home in 1968.
A year later when Dr. Jordon died suddenly from a heart attack it appeared his hard work might be in vain, but it was not. Scripture gives a voice to our hope when it says, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20, NLT)
Clarence Jordon never saw the final chapter of his life’s work. The Fullers eventually began a ministry that would touch thousands. Habitat for Humanity builds homes for needy families around the world. Dr. Jordon’s focus on faithfulness allowed him to achieve success beyond his wildest dreams. His example teaches us it is always too soon to give up on a God given dream.
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