Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is not a book that made my reading list but I added it after a friend said he thought it might resonate with me. The book did resonate and I’m glad he suggested it.
The book started a little slower for me than I’d like in the same way that some good fiction books do. It just takes time to develop characters for you to enjoy them later. While this book is the account of a true story, the same is true here because the main characters are so different that you really need to see what brought them to the situation where they meet.
It’s basically a story of a rich art dealer who becomes a Christian and starts caring about the people around him. Foremost, he cares for his wife in a way he never did before and her faith led her to serve the homeless in Fort Worth, Texas. His commitment to support her vision ultimately changes his life as he befriends a violent, isolated homeless man (the co- author of the book, Denver Moore) and they go through good and bad times together.
The book resonated with me on a few levels. The title explains one, namely that every person we meet is basically the same as us. Race, economics, jobs, etc. don’t really matter that much in the grand scheme of things. I first found this to be true in counseling. The temptation when you’re meeting with someone who has destroyed their life or ruined their marriage or got hooked on drugs or porn is to look down on them, but in God’s eyes we are far more alike than we are different. Bringing this to my ministry life has helped me and those I’m serving have a more natural relationship as we pursue Jesus together.
It also hit me because of our church planting experience. While it’s true that we are all more the same than we are different, our experiences and cultures do matter. One of the things that Denver points out in the book was that all the questions Ron asked made him (and the other homeless) suspicious of them. (They asked “Who wants to know the name and birthday of homeless drunks except the CIA?) It’s a major cultural difference because middle class people, especially white middle class people, tend to use questions as a way to show interest. It’s a contrast in cultures that anyone who works with those of differing racial or economic backgrounds has to factor into his or her approach.
Whenever I read a book with religious overtones that doesn’t claim to be theology I always have to check my theological discernment radar at the door and just try to appreciate the book for what it is. I had to do that a couple times in the book but found I could do it in a way that didn’t compromise the main story of the book or make me love the main characters any less. I would love to meet either of these two guys in real life and look forward to meeting them both in Heaven whenever the Lord chooses to call us to himself.
Overall, I would give the book a very high recommendation. The story is told from both points of view with candor and humor. The chapters don’t exactly alternate but without counting pages I’d say it’s 60% Ron and 40% Denver so you get an excellent sense of both these men and what makes them tick. I heard there was a movie made and I’m not sure if I should be excited to see it or dread the way they could ruin the story.