Two heroes, to be exact

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Yes, Derek got to meet his hero--he has stacks full of blues cds but won't fess up to them.  Not only did I get to spend time with Derek, meet and hear B B King, I also got to have dinner with John Perkins. 

For those of you who don't know John Perkins, you can read about his story in his Let Justice Roll Down.  As the conversation wore on through the evening hours, two things stood out.  The first concerns grace and the second concerns the power of Perkins's story.

Grace came to him, he said, in the anger, bitterness, and pain.  And that anger and bitterness and pain was much of the story of John Perkins's life.  John was there when his older brother, whom he looked up to as a father figure, died.  In fact, as Perkins tells it in Let Justice Roll Down, he cradled his brother's dying body in the back seat of the car racing to Jackson after Clyde had been shot by a police officer in New Hebron.  They made it to the hospital and there Clyde died.  Later, during one of his imprisonments for disturbing the peace or some such charge, while John Perkins was coming in and out of consciousness because he had been beaten within inches of losing his life, Perkins was convicted, convicted to love his enemies.  Grace in the pain and bitterness and anger.

But there's more to the story.  Years later, while volunteering at a juvenile detention center Perkins found himself serving alongside of fellow volunteer.  Perkins gave her a copy of Let Justice Roll Down.  As she read it she remembered the story her uncle, a police officer in New Hebron, would tell of shooting a young black man.  She looked into it and found that it was indeed her uncle who fatally shot John Perkins's brother. 

Perkins's message of racial reconciliation has taken him to the White House, has caused him to be the recipient of honorary doctorates and awards, and has become a model used many times over in cities in Mississippi and beyond.  At bottom, Perkin's message of racial reconciliation is about grace, grace that reconciles us to God and turns sinful hearts to him.

Sitting with Perkins you quickly get the sense that you are in the presence of a great man, who has a great story to tell.  Perkins dropped out of school sometime after the third grade.  His large family was broken up after the deaths of his parents.  He was a sharecropper, picking cotton and maybe having a hand in the family side business of corn whiskey--there was good water for it in those parts.  It would be a long time before that message of grace got to Perkins.  But since the time that it has, what he has done has been remarkable.  He is a story of grace.

More on Derek and the King later.  Let's just say it was a life-changing moment for him. 

Posted June 7, 2008 @ 12:15 AM by Stephen Nichols

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