today, as i stood outside the historic downtown Jackson greyhound bus station, i wondered to myself how in the world i came to find myself in Mississippi. i can safely say that i never in my wildest daydream imagined myself here. yet God has a funny way of bringing us to just where we need to be.
As i gazed across the crowd at the greyhound station, my eyes did a double take. here i was, surrounded by Freedom Riders from all over the country, those who had risked their lives to take a stand in the name of justice and equality some 50 years ago. to simply breathe in the thick, hot mississippi air with them was already an incredible experience. but as i took in the scene, as i looked in-between the heads before me, there he was. Dr. John Perkins, casually standing near the front corner of the crowd. now i've read about him, heard him speak at various conferences, even met him a time or two, but that wasn't what gave me pause. as i looked again to confirm it was him, my spirit swelled up within me. the life and work of Dr. Perkins is why i'm now in ministry; it was through the legacy of his ministry that i first encountered the living and breathing message of the Gospel. and there he was, a casual observer honoring those who similarly dedicated their lives to God's work of reconciliation and justice.
50 years ago, the Freedom Riders stood up for what they believed the Gospel truly meant, and what strikes me is that many of them were likely my age or even younger. I can't help but ask myself, where will i be in 50 years? what will i have stood for? the Gospel was alive today at that old greyhound station, just as it was some 50 years ago. as i stood at that place, i remembered how indebted i am to those who have told me their story, who bear openly the wounds of the past for a new generation of seekers of justice through the Gospel.
I hugged a random Freedom Rider as we all dispersed from the event. Poor guy, i don't think he was quite prepared for that. but before he shuffled away with his walker, he simply looked at me and said, "i don't feel any remorse or anger about the past. read some of our stories, even though some are painful and hard. but they are important to know." may i have ears to continue to hear the story.