Same Kind of Different as Me
The two authors are most unlikely collaborators in publishing this book with its intriguing title printed in an awkward scrawl.
This story, uniquely and powerfully, confirms that the amazing grace of God is able to touch and renew the lives of the most desperate and downtrodden people.
Ron Hall, a rich white man, and Denver Moore, a penniless, illiterate black man, first met in 1998 at a Christian outreach to the homeless, the Union Gospel Mission in
Miss Debbie Discovers a
The person who brought the two men together was Deborah, Rons wife who was convinced that God called her to minister to the homeless. She gave herself unselfishly in reaching out to the poorest of the poor, always treating everyone she met with respect and love. She looked behind the surface of failure and dysfunction, and saw gifts, such as love, faith, and wisdom, hidden like pearls waiting to be discovered, as she put it.
Deborah had a vision of making the mission a place where men and women did not just come for a meal but where they experienced the love of God in very practical ways.
She helped the women to take pride in their appearance, organized film evenings, and once a month brought a large birthday cake to recognize everyone who had a birthday during that month; the latter would get a second helping of the cake. Hall explains:
The cake was always a hit, so much so that people began having more and more birthdays it seemed - some every month. (During the twelve months we brought cake, some fellows at the mission aged twelve years.)
At first, Ron was a reluctant helper at the mission, and preferred to write cheques rather than spend time helping to feed the homeless. But he could not refuse Deborahs entreaties to reach out to the men and women at the mission.
Their marriage hit a rough patch but then their relationship experienced the healing touch of God, which also resulted in Rons taking a more enthusiastic role in meeting the homeless.
Deborah once told Ron that she had a dream about the mission and a man. She told him: It was like that verse in Ecclesiastes . A wise man who changes the city. I saw him.
A few days later while both were helping at the mission, they heard a lot of crashing noise near the chapel door and then saw an angry black man throw a chair across the dining room floor while some twenty people scattered in all directions. He screamed: Im gon kill whoever done it. Im gon kill whoever stole my shoes. Some mission personnel managed to calm him down and lead him away.
Deborah leaned over to her husband and said: Thats him!
Thats the man I saw in my dream! The one who changes the city
Thats him! She repeated, eyes sparkling. I think you should try to make friends with him.
Me! My eyes widened in disbelief. Did you not notice that the man you want me to make friends with just threatened to kill twenty people?
She laid her hand on my shoulder and tilted her head with a smile. I really think Gods laid on my heart that you need to reach out to him.
Sorry, I said trying hard to ignore the head tilt, but I wasnt at that meeting where you heard from God.
It was not easy of Hall to break through the wall this black man,
A Life of Hardship
Denver Moore was born in 1937 in rural
The following years he was living with a dirt poor sharecropping uncle and aunt. He never went to school and at age six or seven started to work in the fields. Later he got his own shack, but never managed to have his own share of the crop exceed what he owed the Man that owned the land you was workin.
In his opening chapter he writes that when he was 15 or 16 years old he met three white men on horseback who decided to teach this nigger" a lesson. (That was after he had helped a white lady to change a tire on her car; she did not speak up in defence of this Good Samaritan.)
One of the men on horseback put a rope around his neck, like he was ropin a calf, and dragged him at full speed. He would have died if the driver of an oncoming car had not interfered by pointing a shotgun and ordering the men to cut
In the early 1960s,
He writes that he went into the prison a man and left a man. For the next 22 years he lived on the streets, mostly in
A Dream Come True
His life then took a turn that no one in his wildest dreams could have imagined. But one person, Miss Debbie had just such a dream, and she urged her husband Ron to persevere in breaking down the wall
With a lot of coaching and patience,
And such a time arrived when Deborah contracted colon cancer and after a 19-month painful treatment died in November 2000 at the age of 55. It was especially during Deborahs struggle with cancer, her death, and burial that
At the memorial service the day after the funeral, many paid tribute to this godly woman. But the most remarkable speaker was this black man who for years had not spoken to anyone except his fellow homeless.
In simple language Denver Moore delivered a moving speech explaining how God had blessed him through Miss Debbie who had reached out to him in love when no one had cared about him. He told his audience that he had promised God to pick up her torch in caring for the homeless. Many were in tears and gave him a standing ovation.
Shortly before her death, Deborah urged her husband: Dont give up on
And so they did, but could not find a publisher willing to take on this project. So they self-published 50 copies for a small audience. But in 2006 the publishing firm Thomas Nelson decided to publish it, and they arranged for Lynn Vincent to help with the final editing.
Demand for the book quickly skyrocketed. By October 2009, 590,000 copies had been printed, and it had been on the NYT best-sellers list for 80 consecutive weeks the first time this happened in the companys entire history.
The result was overwhelming. Request for speaking engagements became an avalanche. Late last year the two authors have told their story more than 500 times and visited more than 200 shelters in
Just Workin Our Way Home
From a life touched by tragedy and begun as a modern-day plantation slave, nameless, and homeless,
But I found out everybodys differentthe same kind of different as me. Were all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us.
The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth aint no final restin place, So in a way we is all homeless just workin our way toward home.
In a world where more and more cracks are appearing in the fabric of our society, this book is a refreshing story of hope and reconciliation. After you read it, you will never again look the same way at the homeless.*
* For a fascinating interview with Ron Hall and Denver Moore, see Wittenburg Door, May/June 2007, posted at: http://archives.wittenburgdoor.com/archives/hall-moore.html