Never Alone. Never Unknown.
Feeling alone and unknown runs deepest when we have to rely completely on ourselves to make decisions. When it seems we’re the only one being called to stand. Where is everyone?
It’s at that moment where our belief is tested in full, when “God is with us” turns into “Is God with us?” It’s in that moment where He invites us to embrace where we are called.
These are the stories of (un)knowns. Common faces in uncommon times with uncommon clarity of God’s purpose for them.
Though they felt alone and appeared alone, their incisive faith reflected God with them and kept family close by their side.
As they spoke, listened, cared, did, willed, overcame, and championed they became who their family would have never imagined and how God already knew them in His incisive love.
As you walk in your (un)known, know with an ever-deepening faith that you are never alone, that you are never unknown.
Seen through a Song, Found in a Walk
“Jesus loves the little children / All the children of the world / Red, brown, yellow / Black and white / They are precious in his sight. / Jesus loves the little children / Of the world.”
It was within the voice of a son singing this simple children’s song that a father discovered that he is and has always been intrinsically loved by God. It was a revelation that turned the notes of his confusion into the music of his calling, writing a soundtrack for his generation and generations to come.
Dr. John Perkins grew up in the Deep South and to hear of God’s love despite one’s color was unfathomable to him. He was used to seeing “white churches” and “black churches,” “white water fountains” and “black water fountains.” The “superiority” encoded in those distinctions was made manifest to him as he watched whites killing blacks before his very eyes.
The Truth of God reaching through the song stirred up so much interest and emotion in him that he decided to follow his son to Sunday school one day. What was hidden from him was that in that walk set by a song was a son leading his father to the Father, a walk that set in motion his God-given path.
Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior led Perkins on a journey similar to Moses going back to Egypt: Perkins went back to his childhood home in Mississippi, a home that had been hardened by segregation, police brutality, hatred, and fear. Going back meant walking the same ground on which his brother was brutally slain by policemen who wore badges to protect and serve. Going back meant facing the unjust economy in which his mother died from starvation, which could have been easily prevented. Going back meant directly encountering this devilish divisiveness. And it meant becoming a light through the dark abyss of racism.
In 1960 at the age of thirty, John Perkins and his wife, Vera, started a church in the corrupt and brutalized area he grew up in. They carried the cross into boycotts, sit-ins, and marches when the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum, becoming champions of change amid social injustice.
They put their own lives on the line as they stood up for what was right and humane in God’s eyes. Though fear sometimes gripped their hearts, they knew God was on their side.
In 1970 while Perkins went to visit students in jail for marching, the police arrested him on the spot. He was tortured and beaten to the brink of death. He became consumed with so much hatred towards them that he imagined releasing an atomic grenade that would consume everyone in the building. At that moment God revealed to him the internal destruction of racism. Perkins made a promise to God that if he were to leave the jail alive, he would speak of the love of God that transcends skin color.
After he walked out of that jail, Perkins went on to write nine books around his philosophy of reconciliation, redistribution, and relocation. He and his wife developed and continue to oversee healthcare, tutoring centers, and community programs that give back to a community that was once so depraved in social, economic, and physical injustices. Through the John and Vera Mae Perkins Foundation, they oversee and support extensive community support programs like health centers, tutoring centers, and college scholarship initiatives.
Before time, God was always with Perkins in that children’s song. He used Perkins’ own son to deliver the Good News to him—just as He used His Son, Jesus, to be the Good News. Psalm 40:3 says: “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Just as the sounds of forgiveness led Dr. Perkins transformation from disillusionment to illumination, so have they guided Michelle Khan through her life from bitterness to sweetness.
Growing up, Michelle’s father physically abused her mother. As she witnessed the abuse and struggled to handle it, she also saw her mother refusing to allow bitterness and unforgiveness to eat at her soul.
Through her mother’s resolve to follow God’s truth, Michelle learned to let go and forgive also. This in no way condoned the physical abuse but revealed her mother’s strength through forgiveness. She now passes down the lesson that love and forgiveness is a choice to her own children.
It’s the same lesson her husband, Rasheed Khan, also learned growing up. As one of the few black children living in a predominantly white neighborhood, he was constantly discriminated against because of his skin color. In school, he was called words he cannot repeat. In his neighborhood, police officers stopped his family to ask why they were in the neighborhood. At his home, a bullet was fired into his family’s living-room window.
Fears, stress, hatred, and negative attitudes manifested in his life. It was only because of his encounter with Jesus that he was able to change his outlook. He had the revelation that what he was experiencing was a sin issue, not a skin issue.
This is the foundation from which they have raised their sons. “We were determined to raise them as strong men of God. Sure, we taught them about civil rights and about black history and pride, but we wanted their identity to be in Christ and Christ alone. So at very early ages we introduced them to Jesus.”
From son to son to the Son. Dr. John Perkins, Rasheed Khan and Michelle Khan are known today as Jesus has forever known them. Sensitive to His voice, each of them was brought closer to His resounding Truth through the people God intentionally placed around them. And they in turn brought others closer to Jesus. Hearing the song. Singing the song. Following the song. The promised notes in the Good News. You are never alone, you are never unknown.