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Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian reverend known as a writer and activist. He founded Sojourners Magazine in 1971 and currently serves as its Editor-in-Chief. His most recent book is The[…]

Wallis, on the first time he heard about Dr. Martin Luther King.

Jim Wallis: I’m the author of “God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and Why the Left Doesn’t Get It”.  And I’m the Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners magazine.


Well I was raised in this very evangelical church where it was our whole life.  It was all week long, not just on Sunday.  And when I got to be about 14 or 15, I began to ask these questions.  I was listening in my city.  I was reading the papers now and paying attention.  And I wondered how come we lived the way we did in white Detroit and life seemed so different in black Detroit just a few miles or blocks away.  We never had a black preacher in our church.  I had never been to a black church.  And who was this minister in the South named King?  What was he up to?  And then one night . . . one fateful night this elder in my church said to me . . . he said, “Jim you have to understand.  Christianity has nothing to do with racism.  That’s political.  Our faith is personal.”  I think that’s the night that I left in my head and my heart, and I was gone altogether in a couple of years.  I found my way back to faith, but I didn’t have words to put around that experience then.  I do now.  And my words would be these: God is personal but never private.  And I find a public God in the Scriptures who cares . . .  The prophets talk about land, labor, capital.  They talked to princes, and rulers, and employers, and judges.  They talked about widows, and orphans, and those workers – those left out and left behind.  So this is a God who is personal.  Yes, He wants a relationship.  He knows everything about every one of us and wants a relationship anyway.  But the reason is to sign us up for God’s purposes in the world.  That’s the whole purpose of conversion, transformation – to sign up and join the big things God is doing in the world.