I know I said I would update sooner but I didn't. I do want to pick up where I left off though. I went with Dr. Perkins to grab some dinner and then we sat down to eat and to talk. He asked me a few more questions about Bonhoeffer, Perkins, and my dreams for the future and then he began talking about the community and how he loves to reach out to the children. He stopped for a brief second and just watched the kids run around the playground and others on the basketball court. He talked about how they were the future and all they needed was a little bit of love and leadership.
A man then walked up to Dr. Perkins and started talking to him about a ministry that he was a part of. I'm going to skip over this part of the story and combine it with another man that came up later in the evening. Fast forward to when the man left and we finished dinner. Dr. Perkins got up and I followed him like a little puppy dog to another table. Seated at that table were two women that looked to be in maybe their early 20's. One had two children and the other had three. Dr. Perkins assured them that they were welcome any time and that he hoped that they come back. He then shared his chips with one of the women's three year old son and commented on how beautiful the child was. About that time a man walked up to him and introduced himself. This is the second encounter that I will leave for another post.
When the man finally left so had the two women with their children. Dr. Perkins turned to me and said those two women are on the edge, they are near prostitutes if not fully in prostitution. They had five children between the two of them with five different fathers. He then told me that he loved them. He said he loves being surrounded by people like that. He said that for most of his adult life he had been surrounded by religious people and through all of those experiences he came to find that he isn't too fond of the religious people. No, it's not the religious that he wants to be surrounded by but the broken. He wants to spend the remaining year, months, or days of his life in a place a redemption.
He compared his longing for that of Henri Nouwen who decided to move to a L'Arche community in Canada where he worked with the developmentally disabled. Dr. Perkins doesn't mean that he wants to move away to a place like a L'Arche community but he wants to reach out and surround himself with broken people so that he can live, learn, and grow with them. So that he can be a redemptive love. He said that those two women represented many in the community who have sought out sex to fill a void. They then have children in hopes to show children a love they never have. They think that they an account for the lack of love they received by sharing it with their children. It is at that point that they realize because they have never truly felt love, they are incapable of sharing it. This then continues a vicious cycle of people incapable of loving and being loved.
Dr. Perkins then feels called to share love. To share the love of God. It all starts much like it did that night at the picnic table. He'll walk up to them, ask their names, ask if they are enjoying themselves, and then asks them to return. Dr. Perkins asked nothing from them but their company. All he wants to do is to love them. He has no agenda. He doesn't want sex, he doesn't want to abuse them, he doesn't want to demean them, he doesn't want to tear them down. He just wants to love them, and love them dearly.
Isn't this what we're all called to do? Didn't Jesus say that the greatest commandments are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Didn't Jesus love indiscriminately? Didn't Jesus feel called to the broken and marginalized? Didn't he say radical things like blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, the hungry, the thirsty, and those who mourn? Who did Jesus surround himself with? I'll give you a hint. It wasn't the religious type.
P.S. I could probably write 20-30 posts just in the two days I spent with Dr. Perkins. I'm not sure how many I am going to end up writing but I promise I will keep them coming. I know that these posts can't even begin to portray how much I learned and grew from having met Dr. Perkins but I hope they can be a taste. It may seem like I'm putting Dr. Perkins up on some high pedestal and maybe I am but it is only because he first humbled himself and allowed God to work through him and God still continues to bless Dr. Perkins and his ministries.