Monday, November 19, 2007

the ron & denver road show

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.


  1. Thanks for bringing them in! God is all over their story. I couldn't buy the book this weekend but went immediately to the library website and have a copy being sent to my local branch!

  2. "Whatever it takes"

    This has been my prayer. Honestly, a bit daunting at times. If we don't go out sensitive to His Spirit, in His love, power, humility, we can't do a thing- the needs are TOO vast. That we would really have eyes to see- calling forth those things that are not- YET. Seeing that treasure within. This weekend was a blessing. Please keep equipping us, Pastor.

  3. I enjoyed it. I read the book some time ago and recall the horrific racism and the twisted paternalistic thinking about things owed to 'the man'. It's a viscious cycle that still happens today.

    I'd be interested in visiting the Union Gospel Mission to see how it's run. I'd also be curious to know if Denver is still having dreams and if so what is He revealing. Also like to know if Ron and Denver get sick of each other, what is their long term goal and will they continue to be partners.


  4. Ok, got the book...You were right - not easy to put down...Can't wait for the movie! :)

  5. I was truely Blessed this week. sometimes we get caught up in our little shell and even place God in this shell as to'how he will or may move in our lives' this story shows the Unchanging God who moves accross racial and socio-economic barriers. God is not dead. Never will be, if we open our hearts and expect nothing, like little children he is waiting to USE US

  6. david workman it is good to see you are doing good things now with your life. im glad you have stoped druging people and sleeping with their wife. it has been a long time since disney land and your old way of life. destroying peoples lifes by wipeing out the soil and stoping on it. may god forgive you your past. and may i one day also.

  7. To anonymous above...

    Jesus is great in His grace. Dave Workman's life is a testimony to the abundant and free-flowing grace that pours from Christ's veins onto any and all who will come to Him for new life. Even the old Dave Workman - whoever that was.

    I pray that you WILL find forgiveness in your heart for whatever it is in the past that is holding you there. In finding that you will experience great freedom. I promise. I have experienced it.

    God Bless you and keep you.

    A friend of Pastor Dave

  8. Anonymous,
    I came to Christ when I was twenty years old. Never drugged anyone; I had my own problems with drugs and alcohol prior to that. Never slept with anyone's wife; I married Anita when I was twenty-five and never fell out-of-love with her. Never went to Disneyland until I think I was 34 and that was during a worship conference. Not sure what "wipeing out the soil and stoping on it" is, but I'm pretty sure I haven't done that. I have no interest in "destroying peoples lifes"; I'm busy enough keeping mine together. I think I've been pretty open at the Vineyard about the things I have screwed up, but I honestly don't know what you're talking about. Feel free to call or email us at the Vineyard and we'll be glad to help you. At this point in my life, I don't think I have much left to hide.

  9. To anonymous,

    I have known Dave for close to twenty years and am friends with people who knew him before that. My first inclination is to defend him because I know that none of the things you said about him are true. But, Dave needs no one to defend him, if you knew him you would know how silly your words are.

    Whoever you are you must be hurting in ways I can’t imagine. I pray that you find the healing that you need and embrace the love that God has waiting for you. Do you know that God loves you, really really loves you? I know that He loves you because He loves me and I have had the same darkness in my heart you seem to be struggling with, probably still do somewhere deep inside somewhere. We are all, you and me alike, just a bunch of dysfunctional children trying to make sense in a senseless world that is full of hate and anger. The only difference is some of us have surrendered our brokenness to Jesus and rely on His grace to make us presentable, and some haven’t.

    Contact Dave or anyone at the Vineyard and you will found a warm smile and help with whatever you are dealing with.

    Dan Cox

  10. Dear Anonymous,

    Dave has already graciously responded to your posting. But even if all dem bones were true, just think about how cool God would be to do such a thing as to turn such a one around to do "good things now with [their] life"! But, dear anonymous, God IS that cool, and He does such things! And may His grace and mercy cover us all, because we all need it desperately, for things like you mentioned, some worse, some less but just as much a reason to need someone to save them from their sins. Lastly, may God help us be gracious and merciful to one another. Thank you, Dave, for being a good example of this to me.