Podcast Episode #16
On this episode:
Author, minister, and culture-shaper Dr. John M. Perkins joins Pastor Talk host Marty Duren to discuss love as the final fight.
Dr. John Perkins (86-June 16, 1930) has been married to his wife, Dr. Vera Mae, for over 65 years (1951). In 1983, while in California, John and Vera Mae, along with his family and a few friends and other major supporters, established the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development (now called John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation) for the sole purpose of supporting their mission of advancing the principles of Christian community development and Reconciliation throughout the world. The Foundation is a volunteer organization headquartered at 1831 Robinson Street in Jackson, MS with a mission to spread the wholistic Gospel of Jesus Christ which transforms lives and communities. To that end, the Foundation advances reconciliation, justice and Christian Community Development nationally and around the world.
John M. Perkins was born in 1930, a sharecropper’s son who grew up in New Hebron, Mississippi amidst dire poverty. His mother died of a malnutrition disease called Pellagra when John was only 7 months old. Fleeing to California at age 17 after his older brother’s murder at the hands of a town marshal, he vowed never to return. However, after his conversion to Christianity in 1957 and three-year discipleship, he returned back to his home state of Mississippi in 1960 to share the Good News of God’s love. While in Mississippi, his outspoken nature as well as his support and leadership in civil rights demonstrations and voter registrations resulted in repeated harassments, beatings and imprisonments. He again was arrested in 2005 while protesting in Washington D.C. against U.S. Government defunding of programs aiding the poor.
Drs. John and Vera Mae Perkins have founded many ministries with the support of friends, which include focuses on Christian community development, multi-ethnic church planting, health centers, schools, leadership development, legal assistant, thrift stores, low-income housing development, and training centers.
- 1960 – Mendenhall Ministries in Mendenhall, MS
- 1972 – Voice of Calvary Ministries in Jackson, MS
- 1978 – Christian Community Health Fellowship (CCHF)
- 1982 – Harambee Christian Family Center in Pasadena, CA (now called Harambee Ministries)
- 1983 – John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation & Development (now called John & Vera Mae Foundation)
- 1989 – Christian Community Development Association (CCDA)
- 1995 – Harambee Preparatory School in Pasadena, CA
- 1999 – Spencer Perkins Center in Jackson, MS (Now the home of John & Vera Mae Perkins Foundation)
In 1982, the Perkins family returned to California and lived in the city of Pasadena where Perkins and his wife founded Harambee Ministries in Northwest Pasadena, a neighborhood that had one of the highest daytime crime rates in California. Harambee Ministries is yet standing, running numerous programs including after-school tutoring, Good News Bible Clubs, an award-winning technology center, summer day camp, youth internship programs, and a college scholarship program called Harambee Preparatory School – HPS.
In 1989, John Perkins called together a group of Christian leaders from across America that was bonded by one significant commitment – expressing the love of Christ in America’s poor communities, not at arm’s length, but at the grass-roots level. An association was formed and the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) held its first annual national conference in Chicago in 1989. CCDA has grown from 37 founding members to 3,500 annual national conference attendees.
Despite being a third-grade (3rd) drop-out, Perkins has been recognized for his work with 13 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities across the country. Wheaton College bestowed his first Honorary Doctor of Law, in 1980. Taylor University being the most recent in 2015. Three universities have established John Perkins Centers. Calvin College has endowed The Perkins Fellowship. He is an international speaker and teacher on reconciliation, leadership, and the philosophy of ministry known as Christian Community Development. He has served under five (5) United States Presidents.
John has authored 16 books including his autobiography Let Justice Roll Down (Baker Books, 2012, revised update), With Justice For All (Baker Books, 2011, revised update), Leadership Revolution: Developing the Vision & Practice of Freedom & Justice (Baker Books, 2012), A Quiet Revolution (Marshalls,1985, revised update), Making Neighborhoods Whole: a Handbook for Christian Community Development (IVP Books, 2013), and Do All Lives Matter (Baker Books, 2017). And his recently released memoirs, Dream With Me (Baker Books, 2017).