In America, a constant hot topic is reconciliation. The recent presidential election result has been laced with tones of racial equality and reconciliation. President-elect Obama, as the first African-American has the unique distinction of being the first 21st Century icon towards such an end.
For several decades, another man has quietly marched towards the vision given by Martin Luther King, Jr. That man, John Perkins has been preaching, teaching and living reconciliation tirelessly. John M. Perkins was born into Mississippi poverty, the son of a sharecropper. He fled to California when he was 17 after his older brother was murdered by a town marshal. Although Dr. Perkins vowed never to return, in 1960 after he accepted Christ, he returned to his boyhood home to share the gospel of Christ with those still living in the region. His outspoken support and leadership role in civil rights demonstrations resulted in repeated harassment, imprisonment, and beatings.
Today, at Seattle Pacific University, the John Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training & Community Development strives to continue his march throughout the United States and beyond. We would do well to learn from the efforts put forth by this hard-working center. Their vision to see "generations of global urban leaders, organizations, and institutions engaging the culture and changing the world by modeling reconciliation and contributing to community health and wholeness," should be shared by all Christians. In many respects, the Army is poised to share the lead in such efforts. We have the personnel, including adherent, soldier and officer alike. We have the reputation and clout - we are a respected force throughout the world and are privileged to walk through doors that may otherwise remain closed to others.
Such leadership would be risky to be sure. Were we to seriously speak out on issues of reconciliation and equality, our sturdy reputation may diminish. With a diminished reputation comes the potential of lost donors. With lost donors comes the threat of closed programs. Is it worth the risk? Certainly! In Deuteronomy 8:17-18a, Moses reminds the Israelites: "You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth." Let us place our reputation and our trust in God who can and will give us the ability to do his will throughout the world.