Benefactor Walks 98 Miles

October 14, 2014

A 71-year-old retired pastor who attended Columbia International University in the 1960s, walked 98 miles in seven days to raise funds and greet CIU students who are benefitting from his ministry.

Ron Jackson, who attended CIU from 1965-1967, is the founder of Parson’s Pantry that provides financial assistance to needy pastors, widows of pastors and married ministerial students. He walked 98.2 miles from Gaffney in South Carolina’s Upstate, to the state capitol building in Columbia to raise funds for his ministry.

Waiting for Jackson at the Statehouse were five students enrolled in CIU Seminary & School of Ministry who have benefitted from Parson’s Pantry, including Dong Li from China.

“This kind of help reminds us that God is with us and supporting us,” Li said as he waited to meet Jackson.

Student Jacqueline McLauren from Tennessee said she wanted to thank Jackson in person for the help his ministry provided her and her husband.

“We were not expecting any kind of financial support, and we were going through a really hard time and (his gift) literally moved me to tears,” McLauren said. “It just wasn’t expected. It just brought on praise to God.”

Jackson was also moved to tears when he told the story about why he started Parson’s Pantry after he retired from full-time pastoral work in 2005.

When he was a young man trying to figure out how he was going to afford to move his family from South Carolina to New Orleans to attend seminary, a man he had discipled sold his antique guns and laid six $100 bills from the sale on Jackson’s coffee table.

“I never forgot that experience,” Jackson said as his voice cracked during a phone interview.   

CIU students are referred to Jackson by Dean of Married Students Brion Burns. Jackson recognizes that the students are in a financial position similar to what he was in, when received the $600 gift in 1970.

“What a blessing it was to meet those (CIU) students,” Jackson said after being welcomed at the Statehouse. “That just thrilled my heart beyond measure that we could have a part in their lives as they prepare to go out in ministry full time.”   

Once he arrived at the Statehouse, Jackson was presented with a South Carolina flag that flew over the Statehouse by State Representative Steve Moss of Cherokee County. Jackson also met briefly with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.   

Read more about The Rev. Ron Jackson's walk to Columbia in The Baptist Courier: