(1942 – 1994)
We’re celebrating black heroes who made history, and I want to introduce you to Tom Skinner, a former street gang leader, born and raised in Harlem, New York. God radically transformed his life and protected him when he withdrew his gang membership—something that usually results in dire consequences.
As Skinner grew spiritually, he became a powerful evangelist who shared the gospel for over thirty years and in more than seventy different countries. He was also the chaplain for the Washington Redskins and served as a team motivator for other professional sports teams. He established a high technology learning center, which serves the inner city, and the Skinner Leadership Institute which provides networking, bridge-building and leadership development.
I met Skinner through Dr. B Sam Hart. He was a true bridge builder, seeking reconciliation and breaking down dividing walls of age, economic status, race and religion. Skinner emphasized social justice and racial reconciliation, but he did so by presenting the gospel and accentuating the kingdom of God. He had the unique ability to communicate with every age and cultural group—something that he helped teach me. I could not comprehend why the church should just be spiritual while neglecting the social, or why social activism should be done as it was so often done absent of a sound theology integrated in and through the local church. Skinner helped me to formulate a balanced view of the gospel.
His ministry of hope, renewal and reconciliation changed the lives of thousands of people, and for that, he should be celebrated.