Just What the Doctor Ordered

A Master Class in Finding Purpose, Loving People, and Lasting Joy

The modern West is in the throes of an epidemic, but not the one receiving all the attention from the media or CDC. This epidemic is hopelessness, loneliness, and lack of purpose; the clinical characterizations of which being depression and anxiety. Marking but one indicator of this epidemic is a survey conducted in the UK in 2019 revealing that the majority of 18 to 29 year-olds (89 percent) report that their life lacks purpose and has little meaning. Researchers have long chronicled the connection between having purpose with good mental health; and typically what accompanies finding a purpose is the commensurate benefit of connectedness with other people.

Yet unfortunately, the most vulnerable in our society to succumb to this epidemic are turning to the wrong counselors for remediation: social media influencers, most of whom are ill-equipped to offer any long-lasting relief, whose only seeming credentials are those of generating a large social media following. What is needed is a doctor in the house, one who not only provides the right prescription for relief, but also the credentials of an inspiring life story big enough to capture the imagination of the young. Introducing, 92-year-old Bible teacher, author, and civil rights leader, Dr. John M. Perkins.

Born in 1930 to a sharecropping and bootlegging family, John Perkins was raised during the height of Jim Crow in Mississippi. Having lost his mother to starvation before he was a year old, and abandoned by his father, the young Perkins found himself in the care of a loving grandmother, of whom he credits with giving him a sense of worth early on. In an interview with Moody Radio talk show host Christopher Brooks, the elder African-American gentleman explains how it was society that challenged his sense of worth, lamenting, “It was expensive, it took a lot of water fountains . . . a lot of jails, [and] a lot of policemen,” adding that the undermining of his value and that of others constituted a tremendous waste of money and societal resources.

The personal cost of Jim Crow to John Perkins and those around him continued to mount as his brother Clyde, having returned home from the war, was murdered by a Mississippi police officer while attending a movie with his girlfriend. The pain doesn’t end there; while recovering from a beating and torture at the hands of Brandon, Mississippi police, Perkins, now forty and rightfully angered by the evil that befell him, confesses he recognized in his own heart evil. At this, he prayed, “God, I want you to help me to preach a gospel that can save us [whites and blacks] together,” adding, “Lord, if I get out of this jail alive, that’s what I want to preach.”

From that jail, John Perkins was transported to a hospital. In recovery, he admitted, “I did not want to see no white folk,” but God did not let him off the hook. Under the loving care of two physicians – one black and the other white, Perkins recounts how they “out-loved” him, as they entered into his suffering and loved him back to recovery. Upon learning that this pair stopped by his bedside often and prayed for him while he was unconscious, he saw what he called “friendship possibilities.” God had used the pair to reveal what John Perkins was really seeking – a full gospel that facilitates close friendships that cross ethnic barriers.

From this initiation point, Dr. Perkins expressed an unshakeable purpose in life, leading him to found various ministries with outreaches to people living in neighborhoods affected by high crime rates and poverty (Harambee Christian Family Center, Christian Community Development Association, Spencer Perkins Foundation, to name a few). Concerned over the breakdown of the urban family, the mission-minded Perkins began publishing Urban Family Magazine  in 1992 with a circulation of 35,000.

In the early to mid-nineties, demonstrating his commitment to advance that full gospel he saw lived out from the doctors at his hospital bedside, Perkins befriends former Klansman-turned-preacher, Tommy Tarrants. Their friendship led to a collaboration and release of the book, He’s My Brother: Former Racial Foes Offer Strategy for Reconciliation. A prolific Bible-teacher and writer, Dr. Perkins has penned seventeen books in all, the last of which, Count it All Joy: The Ridiculous Paradox of Suffering has just been released from Moody Publishing. As if these accomplishments were not enough, Dr. Perkins was also an advisor to several American presidents.

The life, suffering, accomplishments, sheer resolve, and gospel witness of John M. Perkins, makes him an ideal candidate to mentor young people - lacking purpose – on how to live a meaningful life, or one that is well-lived. Moody Bible Institute, together with the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation has generously offered a free six-lesson e-Course to the public covering the life and wisdom of this living legend, entitled, “One Life Well-Lived.” For more details on this, watch the trailer below:

In addition to engaging video content, subscribers will also have access to several free chapters from Dr. Perkins last three books, One Blood: Parting Words to the Church on Race and Love; He Calls Me Friend: The Healing Power of Friendship in a Lonely World, and Count it All Joy, together with interactive exercises. The focus of Dr. Perkins message in this course is threefold, to enable learners to 1) find their purpose in life, 2) discover the people who will support their purpose, and 3) experience joy in the midst of trials and suffering.

After having gone through the course, I found myself challenged, forever changed, and inspired. This is a course to savor, not rush through. Its release is timely as it tenders a workable solution to the problem of hopelessness, purposelessness, and loneliness. After completing the course, I believe many will thank God for the extraordinary life of Dr. John M. Perkins, his commitment to preaching the full gospel, and his willingness to share his hard-won wisdom for a life well-lived.

graduated summa cum laude from California State University, Fresno, with a BS in molecular biology and a minor in cognitive psychology. As an undergraduate, she conducted research in immunology, microbiology, behavioral and cognitive psychology, scanning tunneling microscopy and genetics - having published research in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, and projects in scanning tunneling microscopy. Having recently completed an M.Ed. from University of Cincinnati and a Certificate in Apologetics with the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University, Emily is currently an instructional designer/content developer for Moody Bible Institute and teaches organic chemistry and physics. As a former Darwinian evolutionist, Emily now regards the intelligent design arguments more credible than those proffered by Darwinists for explaining the origin of life.

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