By Richard Clark, Vice President for Advancement

I grew up in southeastern Virginia where my grandfather was a peanut farmer. Unless you are from there you probably wouldn’t know that the area is one of several laying claim to being the peanut capital of the world. Planters Peanuts called the area home, and for good reason. The dirt was perfect for raising peanuts. Any farmer will tell you that what makes it possible for a certain type of crop to thrive is the soil.

Did you know there are over 19,000 different soil types in the United States? The soil near Waverly, Virginia is loose and sandy, perfect for peanuts. It was an African American farmer, Benjamin Hicks, who invented the production means to harvest peanuts economically from that soil. It was another African American, George Washington Carver, who made the peanut a household staple.

But the story starts with the dirt and the farmer who plows or breaks up that dirt. There are legitimate reasons why a farmer might allow a field to lie “fallow” for a season. For one thing it is the best way for the land to replenish the nutrients that are needed to grow crops. God even prescribed a Sabbath rest for the land, a year of jubilee (Leviticus 25) in which his people were not to sow or reap and the land was to lay fallow.

But ground that remains fallow indefinitely indicates something is wrong. In Hosea 10:12 the prophet speaks to God’s people of a spiritual concern and refers to the fallow ground of their hearts when he says, “Break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

The appeal to break up fallow ground is the effort of one who loves a person who is not returning that love to awaken and respond. It does not come with pressure but with yearning to send blessing. This is at the heart of the Advancement Department of Johnson University. We exist to help others experience the joy and fulfillment of generously investing their lives and resources in extending the kingdom of God.

And this is the picture we want to paint with the theme for the new capital campaign. For many who are reading this, there is no fallow ground. You continue to pour out your love and your generosity toward Johnson’s students in your prayers, your words, your actions, and your financial support. For others, this could be an opportunity to renew an expression of love for Johnson’s students by supporting their needs for scholarships, or through monthly or annual support for the Royal Fund, or through your support of student educational spaces in the new science building.

However you choose to involve yourself, and to whatever degree, breaking ground spiritually and physically is not peanuts!