If you have not read works by John M. Perkins or listened to him speak, now is the time to do so. Mr. Perkins is a minister, civil rights activist, community developer, and author, among other things. The son of Mississippi sharecroppers, he fled to California after his brother was killed by a policeman. He came to Christ at the age of 27 and soon after returned to rural Mississippi with a vision to bring the Gospel and change to the rural poor. He and his wife founded Voice of Calvary Ministries and Mendenhall Ministries there, and were involved in civil rights activities during the 1960’s which led to his arrest in 1970 and torture by local police. Perkins also founded Harambee Ministries in Pasadena, CA and the Christian Community Development Association. His most well-known books include Let Justice Roll Down (1976), One Blood: A Parting Word to the Church on Race (2018),, and Dream With Me: Race, Love and the Struggle We Must Win (2017).
These past few weeks we have seen impassioned, and at times violent, calls for justice, for racial equality. We all know that this is a problem in our country, there is not arguing that. But what is the answer? What does God say on the issue and what should our Christian response be?
In One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love, Perkins pours his heart out to the Church. His words are based on decades of experience and time spent at the feet of Jesus. The title, One Blood, is the basis of Perkins years of work. There is only one race – the human race. There is no Biblical foundation for different races as we know them, rather the Bible talks about ethnic groups based on language, culture, country of origin, and lineage, and how God desires for all ‘ethnos’/nations to come to Him and worship him together.
Perkins calls the Church to lament its broken past, to confess actions and attitudes, and to forgive as God has forgiven us. We must also continue to move forward for Biblical reconciliation (Note: Perkins prefers the term ‘Biblical reconciliation’ over ‘racial reconciliation’ as it accurately expresses “the removal of tension between parties and the restoration of loving relationship” that the Bible teaches. p. 17). Throughout the book Perkins gives us historic examples of those who have fought for the reconciliation, as well as present day examples of multi-ethnic churches working towards reconciliation in cities around the country. Perkins calls us to prayer, to time before our Lord for our hearts, for our brothers and sisters, for those organizations fighting for reconciliation and for the Church. And most importantly – love. The goal of Biblical reconciliation is restored loving relationships. Love is messy and hard and requires commitment and work. Perkins calls us to commit and work toward love for our brothers and sisters, no matter the color of their skin.
One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love is a compelling and short read. It also includes discussion questions so it makes a great group read as well. It’s available in hardback, paperback and Kindle versions. Add it to your reading list this week!
[…] companion to our previously-reviewed Becoming Whole, A Field Guide to Becoming Whole offers practical principles for poverty-alleviation ministries as…
Thank you Nancy for this reminder of a great man’s service and work.