MLK and the Gift that Impacts Generations

by Jeff Simmons January 17, 2017

MLK and the Gift that Impacts Generations

Yesterday was Martin Luther King Jr. day, and it called me to reflect on the life of this great pastor and leader. I never had the opportunity to meet Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but he had a profound impact on my life. Because of his commitment to Christ and to racial equality, I grew up with the privilege of attending a diverse schools where I made some great friends. We played sports together, went to church together, celebrated birthdays and shared so much life together. And, more importantly, none of us ever considered our race, color, or nationality being different from each others’; we were simply friends. I was blessed by the friendships I had when I was young and loved learning from different cultures – about family, food, Jesus, and so much more. I am better for it today.

I am grateful for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who took a stand, so that future generations could be friends like this. So that they could learn to appreciate one another and to see the beauty of every person created in the image of God. My years have been deep and rich because someone stood up for how God created life to be.

It is not only in my relationships, but also in Dr. King's teachings that I find continued impact on my life. His teaching on love inspires me:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear."

His teaching on faith encouraged me to go forward in planting Rolling Hills:

"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."

His teaching on justice have called me to take a stand with JMI for what is right in my day and in my generation:

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

And, his call to love Christ and to love others has helped me stay focused each day in my ministry:

"Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?"

Grace at MLK MemorialLast summer, when my eldest daughter, Grace, turned 12, I took her to Washington D.C. on a daddy/daughter trip. While there, we visited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Memorial. As she stood posing for this picture, I considered the impact MLK was having not only on me, but on my daughter. I love that she also has the privilege to attend a school that is so diverse. I love that she attends church with people from so many other countries. I love that she is learning to love all people - regardless of race, color, nationality, socio-economic status or anything else that the world wants to use to divide us. That ultimately hate will be defeated and Christ will be exalted. I love that she is growing up in a country that is better and different because of the life of this remarkable pastor, leader and man.

One day I will have the opportunity to meet Dr. King. When I get to heaven, I will definitely be looking for him. And standing there, in the shadow of our amazing God who binds our hearts together in Christ, I will thank him. I will thank him for standing up for Christ and for love even when it was seemingly impossibly difficult. For having lived his 39 years on this earth to the fullest and investing his life in what really mattered. For modeling Christ, for changing our nation and for allowing me to have amazing friends. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. truly lived an immeasurably more life and, I pray that I will somehow and in some small way bring glory to Christ and instill love in others the way he did.

Thank you, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for impacting my life, my family and the lives of so many.

Jeff Simmons
Jeff Simmons


Jeff Simmons is the Founder and Lead Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN. He also serves as the President of Justice & Mercy International, a nonprofit that exists to make justice personal for the poor, the orphaned and the forgotten of the world. His faith in God and role as husband and father motivates him to be the leader he is and to do the work he has been called to.

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