Love is the Final Fight

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. John Perkins, an 84-year-old Christian civil rights leader, author, and founder of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). He spoke at a Race and Reconciliation conference in Denver last month. It was right on time.

That week was the crux of my frustration and wanting to throw in the towel. Cancer testing, illness, a crashed hard drive, and fighting with my insurance; that all happened in one morning. Sometimes the first world problems of my life, annoying as they may be, make me lose focus on my work, on my Palestinian friends, and on advocating for them.

I was in ‘feel sorry for myself’ mode that morning. As I sat there and listened, what struck me is how grace and love just oozed out of this man. He had a rough childhood, grew up an orphan, and lacked basic education. After being involved in the civil rights movement in Mississippi, he was imprisoned for his activism and tortured. And yet, as I listened to him, it was all about grace. Somehow he never let his past define him and went on to form CCDA (, write books, and inspire others. What struck me is that he never became a victim.

This was a fun little realization as I sat there in self-pity mode. I walked out feeling encouraged. Yeah, it’s going to be hard and yeah, I might always struggle and be misunderstood, but in the end, how do I want to live? Using my freedom and my faith to advocate for others. He really is a great example of what one can make of one’s life when living out the grace and love of Jesus.

I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join a small group of people to have dinner with him a few days later. (Thanks to my friend, Julie, and to her friend who organized it.) He introduced himself to me and asked what I do. When I told him I work with Palestinians, he responded with, “I have an interest in the Palestinian condition.” I said, “Wow, me too!” You might find this hard to believe, but I don’t meet many people, especially Americans, who are interested in the Palestinians.

After dinner that evening, he came up to me and said that he wished he had more time to talk to me. Then he said, “Tell me, because we don’t have enough time, tell me what their lives are like, every day. Tell me what they suffer.”  At that point, I could feel my eyes welling up with tears that then streamed down my face. In the 11 years I have worked with Palestinians, not once, not one single American has ever asked me point blank how they suffer.

In a short amount of time, I told him what life is like for a Palestinian refugee in a permanent camp. We briefly talked about what reconciliation could look like. But, I walked away thinking, “wow, he gets it.” Maybe the question (even if in our own minds) when we encounter someone for the first time should be, “tell me of your suffering.” Or “I wonder what this person suffers.”  Would that disarm our fear or apprehension of engaging others?

The conversation was powerful for me and left a mark; because with one question, he reached right to the heart. And as a Christian, isn’t that what I’m called to do? There is a famous quote by John Perkins, “love is the final fight.” Wasn’t that Jesus’ motto, in a sense? I hope it’s mine as well. As I thought about some of the news stories this month that have upset me, it helps to have John Perkins’ words in my head. Here are some examples where I can live into "love is the final fight."

The contest to draw Mohammed in Texas

Which resulted in an attack on the conference, 2 dead, and more hate on all sides. 

To those who organized the contest and drew the cartoons and to those who perpetrated the violence.

Love is the final fight.

I wonder how others suffered as a result of my actions?

Good article here


The 18,000 Palestinians trapped in Yarmouk Camp, including 3,500 children

The UN says they are facing vulnerability of the highest severity and there is still no news coverage.

Love is the final fight.

What does every day life look for them? How do they suffer?


Separate Bus lines for Palestinian and Israelis in the West Bank*

Tell me how the Palestinians suffer? Tell me how the Israelis suffer?

Love is the final fight.


Because as Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”



*Update—Israel suspended the segregated bus lines in the West Bank.