Intro to Watsonopolis

There was one who once said crazy things like, give your possessions to the poor, let your light shine, go to the ends of the earth, love God, love your neighbor, serve, pray, die and live. Those words, the words of Jesus, have gripped and shaped our lives.

Because of Jesus’ life, challenge and love we are propelled into an amazing life journey; a journey that most often finds us pitching our tent among the poor and those on the margins of our world, serving, living, teaching, learning and loving there.

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Thursday
May142009

Visiting with a modern day Saint

There have been times in my past, when speaking to a group of pastors, or volunteers or missionaries that I'll refer to those dear ones as 'saints'.  And, certainly they are and at the time of my delivery I certainly meant it.  Last week however, I spent 3 days with one who is undeniably, while still living, cannonized in the halls of Saint-dom.  

If you've not yet heard of Dr. John Perkins, I don't know how to put this politely, but the price you're paying for that ignorance is a costly penalty.  

I first met Dr. Perkins in 2002 in Pasadena, Ca while attending my first CCDA conference.  His sermons amazed me.  Then I began to learn about his life and that amazed me even more deeply.  Born to a bootlegging, sharecropping family in Mississippi in the 20's, Dr. Perkins' life is a tale of redemption that radiates out from his life and washes over a city, state, nation and world.  Fleeing a racist South in the 50's, Dr. Perkins was introduced to Christ as a young husband and father while living in California.  Following his conversion, God called him back to the segregated Mississippi to which he swore he'd never return.   

Perkins' 50 years of faith in Mississippi has walked between the beautiful balance of evangelism and social action; fighting for civil rights and contending for spiritual awakening, ensuring access to healthcare and education for the poor and ensuring that there are ministries and churches dedicated to communicating a holistic gospel.  

Last week I spent 3 days with John Perkins and other members of his family.  I sat at his feet while he shared his stories of struggle and joy - stories that stretch back before I was born.  Back before my parents were born.  Stories of God moving in the racial integration of truck stops woven through other stories of God moving in the training of black pastors and other stories of God moving in the hearts of whites and blacks for reconciliation.  Stories of redemption and life that find their origins in the empty tomb of Christ.  

So much of how Lisa and I have lived our lives for the past 8 years has been shaped by the life and ministry of John Perkins.  Our desire to relocate into the broken places of Fresno, Nigeria and now Memphis was first given language by Dr. Perkins.  Our heart to see people reconciled to the Creator first and to one another second - especially as it relates to racial reconciliation - has always been better articulated by Perkins.  Our passion to see the lives of people of means intertwined with the lives of people who have been made poor continues to be encouraged (and challenged) by 'Grandpa Perkins'.  In essence, the way in which I pastor, lead and preach is indebted to Perkins.

Even now, as I lead and love the spunky little suburban congregation on the outskirts of Memphis, Perkins' life and themes continue to dominate my thinking.  And coming out of my 3 days in Jackson, MS, I can't stop thinking about how these issues of the gospel are to be animated at Living Hope.  For we cannot dismiss them as simply 'strategies' of ministry in a poor, black rural or urban context.  The Biblical themes and mandates on such issues will not allow.  

On more than one occasion, JP told me (and the 12 other 'emerging CCDA leaders' I was with) that the mantle is passing and has passed on to us.  We who are living out this message of Jesus in a holistic way among the poor, among others who follow the ways of Jesus.  

I pray that I will be found a faithful steward of that mantle.  More importantly, that I'm found a faithful steward of the gospel.  A gospel that stands for the poor and marginalized.  A gospel that calls to the lost and invites.  A gospel that loves the rich and invites them to use what they have for Kingdom causes.  A gospel that changed the life of John Perkins.  And changed my life too.  And continues changing me.

 

Reader Comments (1)

The mantle has been passed to a good and faithful man. Your faithfulness gives me great hope for the future of the church of Christ and our family. May God continue to bless you all.

May 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterOto

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