0205 - Stopping By Ephesus: Reflections 50 Years After MLK Jr.’s Assassination (w/ John Perkins)

Host: Isaac Adams

Guest: John Perkins

Overview: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) 

Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. Fifty years later to the day, Isaac Adams sat with Dr. John Perkins, an 87-year-old civil rights activist, a few blocks from where Dr. King was killed.  There, Isaac heard Perkins’ reflections on race and the church in light of his work and MLK Jr.’s legacy. 

Originally, Isaac and John were supposed to record on April 3, 2018. Dr. Perkins noted how he saw God’s sovereignty in the fact that they wound up recording on April 4 — 50 years to the day Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. 

And Dr. Perkins was right. 

Reflecting on Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Perkins talks about how he was teaching in a rural school when he heard MLK Jr. was killed. He speaks of the vanishing of hope on that day, a “horrible moment in the history of the world.” Dr. Perkins continued to meditate on how necessary prayer is in the work of racial reconciliation. We pray because “the problems are greater than the resources.” 

If you want to hear how suffering can be redemptive; if you want to hear how God used Perkins’ son to bring about his conversion; if you want to hear this titan of justice and advocacy pray for the church, then this is the episode for you. In this episode, Dr. Perkins seeks to put the gospel at the center of the conversation. Respectfully rebutting prosperity theology, Perkins makes clear that repentance is necessary for everyone because “sin, in its final analysis, is against God.” 

At the end of this episode, Dr. Perkins likens his life, which he readily admits is coming to a close, to Paul’s parting words in Acts 20. Perkins has done what we could with what God gave him. He has served his generation. He was grateful to come another 50 years since MLK Jr. was killed. Though things have changed a lot, and many things have not changed, Dr. Perkins would say goodbye this way: 

“You probably won’t see my face no more. I’m saying goodbye like Paul to the church at Ephesus…but it’s sort of joyful.” 

Links & Show Notes:

1. The Final Call of John Perkins A wonderful profile of John Perkins life, written by Sarah Zylstra. 

2. John Perkins Has Hope for Racial Reconciliation. Do We? A review of “One Blood” by Pastor Duke Kwon 

3. One Blood John Perkins’ parting words to the church on race. There is an entire chapter devoted to prayer in this work, “the weapon of our warfare.”

4. Dream With Me John Perkins’ latest memoir. 

5. Let Justice Roll Down John Perkins first book. 

6. The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues) Switchfoot wrote this song in honor of Dr. Perkins. He speaks about it in the beginning of his memoir, Dream With Me. This is the song played at the end of the episode. 

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Recorded and produced by Karl Magnuson
Graphic design by
Rob Alvey