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Same Kind of Different As Me


Same Kind of Different As Me

The first few chapters of this inspiring book draw you into the early lives of the two men who gradually reveal the story of their unlikely friendship. Denver Moore's voice in chapter one takes you back to his teen years in the 1950s in Red River Parish, Louisiana, when he is nearly killed by white toughs out to teach him "a lesson about botherin white ladies" --- the woman being a stranded motorist for whom he was changing a flat tire. In chapter two, co-author Ron Hall relates an unfortunate childhood humiliation by a teacher in Fort Worth, Texas. Right off the bat, you're introduced to the disparate worlds of an illiterate sharecropper bound by a seemingly inescapable economic system and a "lower-middle-class" white boy whose mother hand-made his shirts up until he went to college in 1963.

Ron, with a good eye and knack for buying and selling, falls into the art world as a dealer of works by world-renowned names, starting with Georgia O'Keeffe. He's living well in Texas, and that might have been the end of the story, if not for a marital infidelity that shook him to the core and prompted him to work desperately at restoring his marriage.

I haven't yet mentioned Ron's wife, Deborah, who, with the Holy Spirit, is the catalyst for the whole story. In 1998, she feels God's call for her --- and reluctant Ron, eager to save his marriage --- to volunteer at the Fort Worth Union Gospel Mission. Every Tuesday night she and Ron help serve dinner, and there they meet Denver Moore, who as a young man hopped a train out of Red River Parish and has now drifted --- trains, streets, prisons --- for decades. He's a tough, solitary, volatile man who stays on the edge of the mission landscape. At first sight, Deborah recognizes his features as a man she has dreamt about, even his role as a biblically described "wise man who changes the city."

Deborah and reluctant Ron slowly draw Denver out of himself and into friendship that goes beyond philanthropy, beyond patronization. Chapter 19, in Denver's voice, gives his take: "Things was goin just fine at the mission till that smiling white couple started servin in the dinin hall on Tuesdays." And chapter 21: "I'd been watchin Mr. and Mrs. Tuesday. They wadn't like the holiday volunteers." And chapter 22: "Folks at the mission thinks you and your wife is from the CIA!"…"Why would anybody be wantin to know a homeless man's name and birthday, if they ain't the CIA?"

A conversation about fishing ("I heard that when white folks go fishin they do something called ‘catch and release.'") confronts Ron and moves him to a deeper bond of friendship. "If you is fishin for a friend you just gon' catch and release, then I ain't got no desire to be your friend." Without giving too much away, I will reveal that Deborah, whom Denver calls Miss Debbie, does not survive to the end of the book. Her death watch is difficult to read, as cancer ravages her body. Denver has a prophetic role in her timely release from this life.

Indeed, it seems that Denver --- and Deborah and Ron --- has changed the city of Fort Worth and even the country's awareness of the homeless population among us. The Gospel Mission has been revitalized and rebuilt. The book, initially published in 2006, has drawn a great deal of attention. The current edition includes a well-executed "Where Are They Now?" update, which I read hoping to discover that Denver has learned to read. Maybe not, as he says he hasn't read the bestselling book, the cover of which bears his own name and image.

Reviewed by Evelyn Bence on March 11, 2008

Same Kind of Different As Me
Ron Hall and Denver Moore, with Lynn Vincent

  • Publication Date: March 11, 2008
  • Genres: Christian
  • Hardcover: 245 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson
  • ISBN-10: 084991910X
  • ISBN-13: 9780849919107