John M. Perkins was born to sharecroppers in Mississippi in 1930. His mother died when he was a baby and his father abandoned the family, so he was raised by his grandmother and other extended family members. At the age of 17, after his older brother was murdered by a town marshall, John ran away to California. About thirty years later his son, Spencer, led him to Christ and a short time later he returned to Mississippi with his wife, Vera Mae and their children in order to minister to the people there. They started a foundation called The John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation which they still lead today.
Dream With Me: Race, Love and the Struggle We Must Win is a memoir of struggle, hope and determination. It is a truly beautiful book by a remarkable man who made a significant impact on our nation’s history. Mr. Perkins interweaves his own personal story and struggle with wisdom he’s learned in his almost 60 years of ministry. In this book, his voice is firm yet tender and comes across as both authentic and impassioned. His insights into America’s racial divide are deep and powerful. Mr. Perkins paints a picture of a better future for those among the margins – not only racially, but financially. This book isn’t necessarily a roadmap about how to get to the reconciliation that desperately needs to happen, but it does make you believe that it is possible. In sharing story after story from his own life about enlightenment, change and reconciliation, Mr. Perkins gives us a wisdom that can only be gathered from years of mistakes and heartbreak. He pours out his own pain on the pages and allows the reader to learn from his journey in a way that is raw, real and truly beautiful.
I take from this book a desire to know more about John M. Perkins, a longing to see his dream become reality and a greater understanding of where we’ve come from as a country and where we might be able to go. This book is an inspiration for all who yearn for both justice and grace. There are so many lessons to be taken from this book and I highly recommend it!
My Favorite Quotables from Dream With Me By John M. Perkins:
“God’s love and justice come together in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and we can’t be about one and not the other. They’re inextricably connected.” p 29
“Love is the first, middle and final fight.” p 30
“Once you know their hurts and feel their pain, your neighbors’ issues become yours too.” p 75
“The oppressed already have a voice; the problem is that no one is listening.” p 75
“Our unity – our reconciliation – bears witness to the world of the surpassing love of God in Jesus Christ.” p 84
“Both sides are yelling too loudly to listen to one another. We have accommodated the racism and the segregation in society for so long that we have lost our ability to hear or understand one another.” p 105
“I believe in the inherent dignity of all human beings. The Bible states clearly that God created men and women in His image from the very beginning. No matter how damaged people become, they still bear that image. No matter how much people have been oppressed or how much they have oppressed others, the part of them made in His image is worth rescuing and restoring. Since we all inherently bear this image, we also inherently have dignity. We do not give people dignity; God gives it to them, but we must work to affirm it in others and ourselves.” p 129
“Dignity has always been part of the justice equation.” p 135
“Love is most powerful when it is unexpected – and when it does not come cheaply.” p 148
“A free society cannot exist for long if too many people in that society put their own image above that of their community.” p 167
“During my lifetime, I fear that more people have seen the church as a messy contradiction defined by division and hot-button issues than have seen it as a prophetic voice living out the gospel. Most people outside the church see it as estranged regarding issues of race, economics, sexuality, and so many other things. They see the church as a place that condemns, rather than loves. They hear the voice of the church speaking a language of hate, rather than a language of redemption and reconciliation. We have lost the fullness of the gospel.” p 188
“The fullness and adequacy of the gospel is a message of togetherness and love across ethnic barriers.” p 197
“In the midst of seeking and telling truth, we find God’s presence.” p 197
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book through Baker Books Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.