About half-a-year ago I got a book in the mail called Same Kind of Different As Me. I read a fair amount of books but am not really crazy about contemporary testimonial-type stories; sometimes I feel they’re not written well. This one caught me by surprise…three-quarters of the way through I was crying like a baby. Not sure if I was just in a vulnerable place (it usually takes a sound track to make that happen), but I suspect it was touching the usual button for me: racism.
But then there was the part about Ron’s wife, Deborah. That didn’t help either.
Anyway, it was good to have these guys here. Denver is quite a character and no wonder; he had endured so much pain from early childhood in a racist/economic system that sucked the life out of him. As an illiterate homeless drifter, he spent ten years in Angola prison in Louisiana and then twenty-two years on the streets of Fort Worth. Then he ran headlong into the relentless love of God expressed through the wife of a wealthy art dealer who regularly volunteered in an inner-city soup kitchen. She had seen his face in a dream and heard an obscure scripture: Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom... (Ecclesiastes 9:15a). Their story is unforgettable and reads like a movie script. Which, by the way, was recently optioned by Mark Clayman, executive producer of Will Smith’s The Pursuit of Happyness.
Ron was as gracious and warm as one would hope; all his proceeds from the book go directly to the Union Gospel Mission where his wife volunteered. Denver is seventy-one and just learned to read four years ago. He's simply remarkable. It’s an amazing story of redemption experienced by two men who were worlds apart culturally, but as Denver says in the book, “After I met Miss Debbie and Mr. Ron, I worried that I was so different from them that we wadn’t ever gon’ have no kind a’ future. But I found out everybody’s different – the same kind of different as me: we’re all just regular folks walkin’ down the road God done set in front of us.”
Hope you all enjoyed the weekend. It was different. That’s good. But even more, I hope it continues to open our hearts to the poor.
Whatever it takes.