WINDER – Robert Whittington applied the phrase “a man for all seasons” to the English statesman and scholar Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) and it was used by Robert Bolt as the title of his 1960 play about More. The phrase refers to a man who is successful and talented in many areas.
Shuford Jones is a man for all seasons. At age 80 and with some physical limitations, he has not allowed his spirit to wane, his vision to fade, or his enthusiasm to evaporate. After more than 61 years of ministry he continues to find ways to be a good ambassador of Jesus Christ.
Few people have had a more varied career and a wider range of interests in life than Shuford Jones. He has been a church planter, pastor, denominational servant, entrepreneur, mentor to young pastors, businessman, fire chief, husbandman, veterinarian, church architect, newspaper journalist, and author of Bible commentaries.
Last year The Christian Index published an article about Jones when Alan Hall and the Mulberry Baptist Association honored him with the Lifetime Achievement Award. As the award was given to Jones, Hall said, “This an award we do not give often and certainly do not give it lightly. This award is significant because it is given to recognize a whole lifetime of service.”
This article is written to illustrate the versatility and contrasts in Shuford Jones life. He insisted, “I am like Amos who said, ‘I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdsman, and a gatherer of sycamore fruit.” As it turns out Shuford is both a prophet and a herdsman.
First, consider Jones’ role as a herdsman. His compassion for God’s creatures small and great has compelled him to take in or herd in all kinds of animals. Shuford, and his wife, Ann, have rescued a variety of animals including cats, dogs, chickens, and, yes, even on one occasion, a goat. They should be honored by the Homeless Pets Foundation, ASPCA, or the Best Friends Animal Society.
Through the years, Shuford and Ann have had an average of 20 goats. Today they still have a few goats, 8 cats, 2 dogs, and 60 chickens at their 5-acre farm in Barrow County. Over the course of many years Shuford indicated that he has had probably as many as 160 goats.
Shuford has gotten very close to some of his animals. Several weeks ago, one of his favorite cats got sick. He said, “I had a pallet that I put on the bed and that cat would come into the house and lay beside me.
“The veterinarian wanted to euthanize the cat when he got very sick, but I refused to let him do it at first. However, after several weeks I agreed to allow the doctor to mercifully give him a lethal injection. I made the doctor come to our home to euthanize the cat. I didn’t want to take him to the vet’s office, because I knew the cat would object to that. The only time he got in our vehicle was to go to the vet and so he generally rebelled against being transported anywhere.”
Caring for goats is not an easy task but talking to Shuford about his goats excites his glee and charges him with enthusiasm. Any interaction with his goats always seems to bring him good cheer, but the blessings are not void of challenges. Being a goat herder has often required him to deliver goats – dozens of goats, care for them when they were sick, and give them medicine and vaccinations. He is not actually a veterinarian, but often does the work of a veterinarian for his menagerie.
It has become difficult for Shuford to kneel down or get low enough to milk the goats, so he has trained them to get on a stand or table so that he can milk them while standing up. He says, “They are smart animals and easily trained.”
In contrast to being a goat herder or farmer, Shuford Jones is a marvelous author and Bible commentator. In recent years he has written a two-volume commentary on the Psalms entitled, Psalms: Fresh Hope for Today. These volumes were written after Jones had gone through a serious health crisis that required surgery followed by five months of nursing care at home.
Jones’ most recent commentary is a remarkable work on the last book of the Bible – The Revelation of St. John Explained for Everyone.
In a recent article in The Newnan Times-Herald, Winston Skinner reported, “He (Jones) has converted the book of Revelation into what he calls his Easy KJV format, and it is included in his commentary on Revelation. In his 351-page commentary, Jones offers an explanation for all 404 verses and 22 chapters. He goal was to explain the passages in clear, readable language.
“Jones studied Revelation under skilled theologians and has personally translated the book from its original Greek into English.”
Revelation 1:3 gives us a wonderful promise concerning reading this fascinating book of prophecy: “Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.” That verse alone should prompt people to read and study the last book of the Bible.
Jones book is obviously the product of fervent prayer, extensive study, excellent scholarship and the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The author has delved into the some of the most challenging passages in this New Testament book of prophecy with great care and explained his position with clarity and biblical support from other scriptural references.
From his incredible description of the exalted Christ in chapter one to his magnificent interpretation of the celestial city – heaven – in the last chapter of the book, you will find that Shuford Jones has a remarkable way of communicating God’s Word and bringing eternal truth to light.”