What an epic day in the Deep South! We awoke early in the Wal-Mart parking lot at Americas, Georgia (after a 6-hour drive and 5-hour sleep), boiled some instant oatmeal in our groovy Turtle van, and were thundering down the road to Plains by 6:30.
Why such an early departure? To meet with our 39th president of the United States—Jimmy Carter—who has been teaching Sunday morning Bible classes at Maranatha Baptist Church since the 1980s. I still cannot find words for my astonishment over a world leader who would teach the Bible to barely 250 people in a tiny church at a speck on the map in the middle of nowhere. No cell phone service here! But plenty of peanuts. I barely remember him serving a term in the White House, and news images of him hammering shingles on Habitat homes.
I was deeply impressed by Mr. Carter’s earnest preamble which was more political than religious, being a heartfelt cry for peace. This is something he has always valued highly. At the Jimmy Carter museum and boyhood home, we learned much about the many ways he has brought health and peace to the oppressed people of the world.
Next, we landed at Koinonia Farm, the first intentional community on our visitation list. They survived KKK bombings and boycotts back in the day when southerners didn’t take kindly to whites and blacks living, working and praying together. Hospitality has always been a high value at Koinonia, which was evident in the lack of awkward moments. We were quickly oriented and given our space to move freely. Potluck dinner and worship was perfect. Over dinner, Bren simply expressed the high value they place on connecting over food, reconnecting with God, and conveying the benefits we receive to the world in words and actions of peace and reconciliation.
Now we are looking forward to a restful sleep in our comfy camper. They have provided us with the perfect spot at the edge of wide open fields and pecan orchards. It’s been a full day, and I’m looking forward to a tour and conducting interviews tomorrow.