Daniel of the Year – John Perkins


MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, December 3rd.  You’re listening to WORLD Radio and we are so glad you are!

Good morning. I’m Mary Reichard.

MEGAN BASHAM, HOST: And I’m Megan Basham. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: WORLD’s 2020 Daniel of the Year.

Each year for more than two decades, WORLD has honored courageous Christians for their faithful work in the kingdom of God. 

This year’s honoree is civil rights leader John Perkins.

REICHARD: Perkins was born in 1930 and grew up as a Mississippi sharecropper. His grandmother reared him after the death of his mother. When Perkins was a teenager, police shot and killed his brother. 

Perkins fled Mississippi, vowing never to return. But after he put his faith in Christ, he and his young family returned to the South. He began a ministry to fight poverty.

BASHAM: Perkins organized economic boycotts of businesses that discriminated against blacks. That led to his arrest in 1970 in Mississippi. Police beat him so badly that much of his stomach had to be removed. 

Yet his response to these injustices? He’s spent the last 50 years preaching Christian forgiveness and reconciliation.

REICHARD: In last month’s WORLD Magazine profile, Marvin Olasky wrote: “John Perkins is our…Daniel of the Year because police killings, riotous responses, and a bruising presidential campaign have made his refusal to hate more important to civil peace than at any time since the Civil War.”

BASHAM: Six years ago, John Perkins spoke to the students of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri. His message was titled: “Reconciliation and Redemption.” 

In honor of Perkin’s recognition as our Daniel of the Year, here is a portion of that speech. Let’s listen.

JOHN PERKINS: The thing that’s driving me now is, there is a new people emerging in the world. And I think it’s because we understand the incarnation in a different way. I think we begin to understand the fullness of it. There’s a new generation coming, there’s a change coming. There’s a new people. 

It’s almost like He’s creating new churches. Churches that build on multiculturalness. Churches who want to reach across these racial lines. People who hear the gospel—that God was incarnated, and is incarnated in Christ.

And He’s reconciling the world unto Himself. And He’s given us the ministry, and there’s a new generation that’s coming and taking that responsibility. They take it out of joy. Because they begin to understand what God has done for them. We can understand this salvation, what salvation is all about. God saves us from our Adam sin. He saves us from our personal, day by day sin. 

I like John 1:9. I’m talking about salvation. I’m talking about God taking the burden away from us, and releasing us, and setting us free so we can serve God. That was the idea of redemption. Not to set us free to serve just ourselves. He even says, with the work of our own hands, so that we can give to those other than me. Myself is not the end. 

He says for me, to love Him with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength, and then to love your neighbor as you love yourself. God has told us to go into all the world. Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every ethnic group. Teach them to observe all things, whatsoever I commanded you. And He said that He’s now at the right hand of God. God is there and I think He’s working now.

I think He’s calling out right now, a people for His name, that’s gonna take on His work. And then we are going to overcome this racism and bigotry. There ain’t no room for that. It’s a contradiction to truth. 

The question I’m getting from these young people is how to? They’re saying how do we do that? Lord, teach me, I want to know more about it. I want to know more about the culture. I want to enter that culture. We want to be reconciled. We want to be brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. People are adopting children. They’re doing all these things. We’re being intentional about that.

Moses was ordered to make the tabernacle…what we make on earth is supposed to reflect what’s going on in heaven. And in heaven, there’s this multitude of people who got the land which they came from, they got their color, they got their nationality from those places, but they are worshipping God together.

That’s what He wants us to do. That was the church He sent into the world. That’s when He sent the Apostle Paul, from the Church of Antioch. He told them first to go to Jerusalem. The opening church was a multiracial Church. There were proselytes from all over the world, from all the nations that were known in the world. Those people were at Jerusalem.

And when that 120, when the Holy Spirit came to live in us, and to form the church—you have got to know that—there are two aspects: there’s the individual, and then there is the church, and the church houses the truth of God, and no one person has the truth of God. 

And if one person tells you that he’s got the full truth of God, you’d better run away from him. He’s a cult leader. The gospel, the truth of God was committed to the saints of God. There has to be the elders, there has to be the deacons. There has to be the overseers, whatever you call them. They were there in order, because God gives us truth in bits and pieces.

And that truth comes together. He doesn’t give everybody the same gift. Neither did He give everybody all of the truth. And we’re to learn from each other and be guided by each other. That’s what God wants, and I see that church moving in the world.

Jesus said, “Go into all the world. Lo I’m with you, even to the end of the world.”


BASHAM: That’s World’s Daniel of the Year, John Perkins, speaking to students at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri in 2014.


(Photo/Ronald Pollard) John Perkins

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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