I have to admit, I was initially skeptical of visiting Koinonia. Perhaps this is because the phrase “intentional community” conjures up images of burlap and teepees and beards run amok. And while the vibe of the campus is not that of your typical suburban neighborhood (you don’t often find people gathered in the Smith’s garage for 7:30am silent meditation), it is far from the Kool Aid Cocktail environment I was expecting.
First, Koinonia has a solid history. Clarence Jordan founded Koinonia in 1942 in response to the unfair treatment of African American sharecroppers in Georgia. Beyond providing refuge and friendship he also went so far as to translate sections of the New Testament into the southern dialect in a version named the “Cotton Patch Gospels.” Because of this unconventional and radical stance on race, Jordan and the Koinonia community faced substantial backlash. They were subject to all forms of hostility – beatings, boycotts, excommunication. The building where I’m staying still has evidence of the bullets from shootings.
Koinonia persevered through the adversity and exists today as a fully functioning farm, Christian community modeled after the book of Acts (in which all possessions are shared), and center for social justice. Many similar organizations have been spawned on this campus, including Habitat for Humanity.
Second, the people here are sincere. They embody Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” The members of the community seem to genuinely care about each other and extend that care to anyone who visits their home. They are not “normal” members of society; they seem to be composed of individuals who tend not to fit in with contemporary culture. On the contrary, they know who they are and what they stand for. And what results is disarming authenticity.
The third element that swayed me from my initial skepticism was finally finding my place on the farm. After 10 weeks of feeling inadequate in all things farm related, I’ve found my niche.
Weighing, stuffing, sealing,
and eating bags of chocolate bark from the farm bakery.
At long last, I’ve discovered my calling.