Belmont’s first convocation of 2008 spoke to the issue of “Justice for All” with a talk presented by nationally known speaker and advocate for the poor Dr. John Perkins, who asked his audience today to build community through the three Rs: Reconciliation, Relocation and Redistribution. He also encouraged attendees to look for the root of the problems that plague their communities rather than merely focusing on symptoms.
Perkins, who serves as president of the John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development in Jackson, Miss., grew up in Mississippi amidst dire poverty. He fled to California when he was 17 after his older brother’s murder at the hands of a town marshal and vowed never to return. However, in 1960, after his conversion to Christ, he returned to his boyhood home to share the gospel. His outspoken support and leadership role in civil rights demonstrations resulted in repeated harassment, imprisonment and beatings. Through it all, Dr. Perkins returned good for evil, love for hate, progress for prejudice and brought hope to black and white alike.
“Justice is understanding who owns the earth while injustice is about enslaving and exploiting people for your own aggrandizement,” Perkins said. “Justice was God’s motivation for redemption. Justice motivated God to come down from heaven, incarnate himself as Jesus of Nazareth… so that he could be just and justify you and me.”
Despite dropping out of school in the third grade, Perkins has written nine books and has received recognition for his work with seven honorary doctorates. He is an international speaker and teacher on issues of racial reconciliation, leadership and community development and is the co-founder and chairman of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). An association of Christian leaders from across America who are bonded by a commitment to express the love of Christ in America’s poor communities, CCDA has grown from its initial 37 founding members in 1989 to 6,800 individuals and 600 churches, ministries, institutions and businesses in more than 100 cities and townships across the country.