June 16th, 2010

Do you treat your friends as “catch-and-release?” 

More importantly, do those outside the faith and the church think you will treat them that way?

Same Kind of Different As Me tells the story of Ron Hall, a wealthy Texas art dealer and his friendship with Denver Moore, a homeless Fort Worth black man with a violent past – both in terms of violence inflicted on him and violence he inflicted on others.

Hardly a minor character in the book, Ron’s wife, Debbie, is the one whose faith in Christ and passion to serve him fight through rags-to-riches changes, her husband’s infidelity, and ultimately her terminal illness.  Along the way, her prayers and her calling open the door of her husband’s heart not only to the Lord but to the down and out, especially Denver Moore.

Friendship opens the door to Denver’s transformation.  Although Denver had learned Scripture and Jesus-language in plantation church services, as an urban street person he had developed an intense distrust for rich white people.  He had also observed many of them relieving their guilt over the wealth by volunteering occasionally to spoon food on to a few plates for an hour here or there at the rescue mission.

But Ron and Debbie Hall proved to be different.  Through Debbie’s prayers and persistence, Ron, reached out to cross the divide between his world and Denver’s.  After much resistance, Denver began to voice some of his questions about white folks.  Why do they call bait “sushi”?  When they fish, why do they “catch and release” – i.e., why fish in the first place if you don’t need to eat?  Would Ron’s offer of friendship to Denver be another instance of “catch and release,” serving Ron’s need for guilt-salve, or would they be forever friends.

The book is superbly written, weaving the co-authors’ stories back and forth until they intersect, then continuing with alternating perspectives on the same events.  This book is well worth the time.

Its enduring impact for me is its call to befriend those who have no genuine commitment to Christ and no reason to think they would ever be welcomed into genuine Christian community.  We have to pray and discern those relationships we will nurture so that Christ can use those friendships to change lives – but our commitment cannot be temporary and conditional. 

The skeptical and disillusioned can quickly sniff out “catch and release” friendships.  They are not interested.

One Response to Same Kind of Different »

  • tsspotts says:

    I loved this book. It has been a few months since I have read it, but one of my favorite lines was the one about the sushi! The characters are wonderful.

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