When my friend lent me a copy of Same Kind of Different as Me, he warned, “This is a hard book to read”. Ok, I thought, as he handed it to me, but I wasn’t sure what he meant. Was he implying it was written in a style that was challenging, full of big words and concepts? Or that the subject matter was heavy?
It turns out he was right, in the sense that the book was challenging. It challenged my perceptions of others and my actions, or inaction, when it comes to loving those different from me and in need. Because in the end, we all have needs and we all sometimes feel different, but we all face the same challenge. We cannot save or fix ourselves. That is God’s work, which he does in and through us, as so lovingly demonstrated in this true story about a rich art dealer, a homeless former sharecropper, and the woman who brought them together so God could do His thing.
This book does a great job of spreading good news about the love, faith and hope that is available to all of us. It does it without being preachy. It doesn’t hide the harsh realities of life. And it does it in a heartfelt manner, told from the perspective of both Ron Hall, a businessman who made his fortune dealing in International art, and Denver Moore, a man as big as his heart, but surrounded by a hard outer shell from years of living on the streets, riding the rails, or working for “the man” as a modern day slave in Louisiana.
It took Ron Hall’s wife to be the catalyst. Miss Debbie, as Denver Moore eventually fondly calls her, wants to help a mission serving the needs of the homeless in Dallas/Ft. Worth. But that means more than just coming down once a week to help with meals. She wants to really connect with those most needing care and concern. In other words, she takes the teachings of Jesus seriously. Husband Ron tags along, mostly to help his marriage. Denver is a harder nut to crack. He maintains his distance. Years of homeless living have made him wary and street savvy. Over time he warms to the indefatigable spirit of Miss Debbie. And what she does is put the two men together. The story, and some tough life tragedy that accompanies it, grows from there. There is plenty of sadness in this story. But there is also joy. And isn’t that just how life is? We all experience some good and some bad. And if we are fortunate we someday discover that deep down inside we really aren’t that different.
Same Kind of Different as Me is a book to be savored and shared. It can be used in a discussion group or read alone. Soon it may become a major motion picture, reportedly with Samuel L. Jackson in the role of Denver Moore (story here).
Official Same Kind of Different as Me website