The happiest man in the world
James W. Jackson and his future wife, Anna Marie, were born at Samaritan Hospital on the NNC [now NNU] campus in the 1940s. At that time no one could have guessed that by age 30 they would be millionaires or that by age 40 they would give it all away in search of happiness.
Jackson graduated from NNC in 1963 with degrees in both ministry and secondary education. When speaking about his days in college, Jackson points to his coursework, the counsel of professors, and the spirit of the school itself as having formed his character from a young age.
“As the old adage says, a lot of things are caught and not taught. The education and the curriculum at NNC were so important, but there was a spirit to it from the first time I sat in chapel that became my lifestyle. The whole emphasis of ‘seek ye first the kingdom of God’—that became my system.”
After Anna Marie graduated in 1965, the Jacksons moved to Colorado and became very successful in real estate. By age 30, Jackson was a millionaire. Something was missing, however. James and Anna Marie realized that despite all they had they were not happy.
The Jacksons concluded that the happiest period of their life had been when they only had each other. Over the next five years they gave everything away, keeping only their home. Seeking God’s will for their lives, they began their journey towards happiness.
It was in 1987 in his second career as an economic consultant that God brought Jackson to a small clinic outside of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The building was surrounded with people who had needs that the clinic could not meet. Jackson recounts, “I went into the kitchen, and the doctor was actually doing surgical procedures in there, next to an empty oxygen tank and a small cabinet that housed a few dirty bandages.” People were being turned away due to a lack of resources, and his heart went out to them.
Jackson returned home to Denver with a vision but no concrete plan.
“I called together a bunch of my friends, and I told them ‘I need help. I’m in way over my head, and I don’t know anything. Someone around this table has a name or a number that can help me.’”
And someone did. Thirty days later, Jackson had $250,000 worth of donated medical supplies. This first shipment that Jackson sent to Brazil in ’87 marked the beginning of the now internationally recognized non-profit Project C.U.R.E. (Commission on Urgent Relief and Equipment).
Present-day Project C.U.R.E. is proof that God will do great things when we allow Him to work through us. Since Jackson founded the organization, it has shipped over one billion dollars’ worth of goods to more than 130 countries worldwide. There are now five distribution centers and 12 collection centers operating with the help of more than 15,000 volunteers.
Fifty years after graduation, Jackson proclaims himself to be “the happiest man in the world.” It has been a difficult journey, but he and Anna Marie ultimately found true happiness through giving instead of receiving, and by “Seeking first the kingdom of God.”