Dr. John Perkins is one of the leading Evangelical voices to come out of the Civil Rights movement, today he is trying to pass on what he has learned out of struggle and wants to make a better future from the lessons he has learned from his past. Dr. Perkins mother died when he was 7 months old, he knew his father but was rejected by him early on. He says he grew up without an institution of love and an intact family. He and his four siblings went to be raised by his grandmother, but she gave 3 of his siblings away to be raised by other members of their family. He was left with his one brother who ended up going over to fight in WW II and to fight Hitler's racism to come back to his own home town and be killed in a racial incident when Dr. Perkins was only 16 years old.
He and his family left Mississippi in fear of something happening to them and he vowed to never come back. However 10 years later he came to know Jesus Christ and he found what he didn't have… the LOVE of God. If there was a God in Heaven to love him enough to give His only begotten son to die for him - he really wanted to know that God. He realized he was a deep sinner, and he also realized that he wanted to go back and live out his Christian life in Mississippi.
He looks back at that experience in his discipleship. We need to understand that God is a big God. He says that is a big problem for many people. We reduce God and think of Him as an individual buddy. We've reduced him to so little that He can only meet MY needs. God wants to do so much more than that. He wants us to enter in to His redemptive work, we can work together with this creative God. The God who called light to shine out of darkness. That God has shined that light into our hearts - to give us the knowledge of the glory of God. We have reduced God so much to our individualistic idea and He has a greater purpose for us than that.
So many people want a life that's easy and comfortable but the love of God compelled him to go back to a very tough place, circumstance and situation. But he was willing to do that because of the love Christ gave him first. He was in jail in 1960 and being tortured by a white police man. He saw the evil of racism but in it he saw himself because if he had a way to hurt them he would have. His sin was just as dark as their sin. He told the Lord then that if He let him out of that prison he would preach a gospel that was stronger than his racial interest. A gospel that can reconcile white, blacks, Jews, and gentiles to Jesus Christ.
He now has many honorary doctorates but he only completed school somewhere between the third and the fifth grade. Although he studied the Bible - he loves the Bible verse "I will bless them that bless you, I will curse them who curse you". He took that blessing for himself and asked the Lord to redeem his name - asked Him to help him understand the Bible so he could preach it and the Lord helped him with that.
To those looking for God's calling on their life? Find that longing in your heart. He was looking for love and he found it in Jesus Christ. He closes by sharing a song verse,
"I was Feeding on the
husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on. But Hallelujah! I have found Him"
(From Hymn "Satisfied", 1875)
God was love for Dr. Perkins and that is the central message of his life and of the gospel.
To learn more about Dr. John Perkins