In 1942 farmer and Baptist minister Clarence Jordan (1912-1969) started Koinonia Farms, an integrated farm cooperative near Americus, Georgia. Any kind of integration was a threat to many people in the heavily segregated Deep South of the middle years of the 20th century, and the Ku Klux Klan was an ever present threat to those who lived at Koinonia. Jordan led a courageous and determined non-violent response to the threat, even refusing the offer of the protection by Federal troops during a particularly dangerous time. The following story is from Cotton Patch Sermons by Clarence Jordan.
A lot of people think that Christians are just fuzzy-minded people living in a world of illusion. That isn’t true. Those who have gotten up out of the stupor of sin and put their faith in Jesus are the ones who are living in the world of reality.
One time about 93 car loads of Ku Klux Klansmen came out to Koinonia and suggested to us that we find a climate a little bit more conducive to our health. We declined their suggestion, and word got out that I was about to be lynched. Some very dear friends came to me and suggested that I find refuge north of the Mason-Dixon line.
I said, “Well, we came here because of the will of God and, if we leave, it will have to be because of the will of God.”
They said, “Now wait a minute here, you’ve been a preacher too long. You got to get your head out of those theological clouds and face up to reality. The Klan is about to lynch you and you might as well face up to it.”
Well, I hadn’t been sitting there getting shot at and machine-gunned and all like that for three years without being aware of the fact that I was in danger. But I said to them, “Now what do you mean face up to reality?”
They said, “Be practical. It’s all right to discuss theology at the seminary, but you got to face up to the cold stark facts of life.”
I said to them, “Now listen, I think I’m the one that’s being realistic and you are the ones being unrealistic. You’re facing up to the demands of the Klan which is temporal and transient. And I’m facing up to the demands of God who is eternal. Now who’s being realistic? I think God was here before the Klan and I think God will be here after the Klan is gone. And I think God is more real in this universe than the Ku Klux Klan.”
Luke 12:4-7 — (Jesus said), “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Psalm 27:1-3 — The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked advance against me to devour me, it is my enemies and my foes who will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me even then I will be confident.
PSALM 3:1-7a… 8a
Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”
But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.
Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God!… From the Lord comes deliverance.