Every Child
2/24/15 at 09:33 PM 0 Comments

A New Family Tree

text size A A A

In honor of Black History month, guest blogger Dr. Steven Timmermans, executive director of Christian Reformed Church of North America, shares how our nation’s roots in racial reconciliation helped to plant the seed for a family tree he and his wife never imagined.

Dr. John M. Perkins has been a contribution of relocation and racial reconciliation. Raised by his grandmother and extended family of sharecroppers, Perkins’ early life was marked by racism. He was 17 when he lost his brother to a fatal shooting by a police officer. He moved to California where he started a family. Ten years after his brother’s death, Perkins accepted his son’s invitation to attend church, and there he found new life in Christ. In his early thirties, he moved to Mississippi and founded the Voice of Calvary Bible Institute.

When my wife and I traveled to Mississippi for a conference more than 35 years ago, we never expected the life-changing challenge we received from Dr. Perkins. His words changed our lives forever. Perkins shared that Scripture calls the races to be reconciled, just as God reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and that God has given us a ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). He said that he considers his life to be a holistic ministry—an effort to free us all from the bondage of racism and repair the damage racism had done.

He challenged us to relocate to a community where we could learn reconciliation. So we did. We lived for the next 25 years in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, and God changed our lives more than we could imagine.

God’s first surprise was when a neighboring teen moved into our home. His mother, single and unemployed, was struggling to care for her four children. We were able to help her get a job, and her son became like a son to us; we’ve been a part of his journey through high school to college and beyond.

God surprised us with other open doors, too: directing a weekend retreat program for single parents and their children, working on pre-college programs with both white and black congregations, developing in our children an appreciation for cross-cultural encounters, and leading one of our daughters to study in Ghana. Most surprising, nearly five years ago, He led us to Ethiopia where we added to our family through international adoption.

Perkins’ strategy for Christian living was simply responding to need. His radical roots of faith-based community building changed our lives and our family. We are called to respond to need, and we are called to be unified as one body.

We are invited to discover community and family as God intended—and we are called to extend both the invitation and challenge to others. Dr. Perkins’ personal challenge and the God’s word have given us a family ministry and we have learned when God says “go” we must listen and obey. Without responding to this call and Perkins’ shocking challenge to embrace a new culture, our family picture would be incomplete.

Our blended family is a picture of reconciliation only God could paint.

Listen to Bethany's Every Child audio podcast. Bethany's leadership engages Christian artists and leading voices from ministries, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies in discussing issues relevant to children and families. Learn more and hear about topics such as child welfare, family preservation, social justice, and sustainable, culturally appropriate social services in developing countries.

Bethany Christian Services is a leading nonprofit adoption and child welfare agency helping to heal and work with hurting families and find children the sustainable support and essential love they need.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).