Sermon Illustrations

RETURN GOOD FOR EVIL

Let me share with you the story of a lesser known man, Rev. John Perkins. He was a black minister in the South "lived through the worst nightmares of the civil rights movement."

Perkins started a church, then a Bible Institute, a radio program, followed by a health clinic, a co-op, a vocational training center, a recreational center for youth, as well a tutoring, after-school, and housing program. But when he started a voter registration campaign and led an economic boycott to protest police brutality in downtown Mendenhall, MI, he crossed a line. He was accosted by over a dozen white police men and beaten so severely that doctors had to remove 2/3 of his stomach, and it took him 18 months to recover.

Perkins has said that, "That time was without a doubt my deepest crisis of faith. It was time for me to decide if I really did believe what I had so often professed, that only in the love of Christ, not in power of violence, is there any hope for me or the world. I began to see how hate could destroy me. In the end I had to agree with Dr. King that God wanted us to return good for evil. ’Love your enemy’, Jesus said. And I determined to do it. It’s a profound and mysterious truth, Jesus concept of love overpowering hate. I may not see it in my lifetime. But I know it’s true. Because on that bed, full of bruises and stitches, God made it true to me. I got a transfusion of hope. I couldn’t give up. We were just getting underway in Mendenhall"

Many years later Perkins found himself back in Mississippi, where he spear headed a movement for racial reconciliation, often appearing with "Thomas Tarrants, a KKK operative who served time for murder, got converted in prison, and now pastors a multiracial church in Washington, D.C.".

(Source: Philip Yancey, "Soul Survivor" p. 31, 35. From a sermon by Don Hawks, "Speaking of the Devil" 7/20/08)

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