This past Christmas vacation, I was given a book by my sister-in-law, who promised it would be “life-changing.” Although I was skeptical, the front-cover artwork and back-cover blurb seemed interesting, so I took my chances and read it.
In one day cover to cover. I just couldn’t put it down!
The funny thing about people and books is that sometimes we hear about a “have-to-have-it” book, and then, when we see the actual cover, or read the advertisement on the back, something just clicks in our brain that turns us off, leading us to put the book back on the shelf. Without bothering to examine the book further, we miss seeing the brilliance that is possibly just beneath the surface. In the non-fiction book, Same Kind of Different as Me, we see a somewhat similar theme, which is that we sometimes “judge a person by their cover,” immediately discriminating against their appearance, vocabulary or occupation, never getting to know who they truly are underneath all of their layers.
Same Kind of Different as Me opens up with the true life history of two men, Ron and Denver. Each tells his story separately, one chapter at a time.
With these two stories rotating between chapters, the book moves quickly and keeps the reader’s interest. Within the first few pages, it is readily apparent that Ron and Denver couldn’t be more opposite. Ron grows up in a stable home and is blessed with the opportunity to get a higher education. He goes on to become a wealthy international art dealer. Denver, on the other hand, is a black homeless man who moves around frequently and suffers many losses as a young man. He ultimately has one choice as far as employment: working in the cotton fields of Louisiana.
Years go by, and at the urging and encouragement of Ron’s spirited wife, Deborah, Ron begins to volunteer at a homeless shelter with her and by chance meets Denver. The wonderful thing about this book is the transparency of both Ron and Denver, as they are up-front with everything they feel and think upon meeting each other. Their descriptions of their first meeting reminded me of when the opposite ends of two magnets meet and instantly repel each other. Ron was uncomfortable with Denver’s appearance, clothes and attitude, while Denver had a wall built around him that screamed, “Leave me alone and do not talk to me.”
Over time, the reader watches God build a bridge between their hearts, and these two men experience something together that is a life-changer for both.
Same Kind of Different as Me deals with many subjects that many people can relate to. It delves into sickness, suffering, forgiveness, faith, prejudices and homelessness. It is a reminder for all of us that, no matter what thoughts about other people may come and go in our minds, the reality is that God has love and a plan for everyone’s life, rich or poor, no matter what race. If we put down our prejudices and preconceived notions about the way things should be, we allow ourselves the opportunity to hear someone else’s story and see the wonderful things that God is doing in their lives. We all have a different path in life, and God knows exactly where that path is leading.
Although Denver was homeless and had no formal education, the quotes he uses in this book caused me to stop, reread them several times and just think to myself, “Wow. This man had nothing in terms of money and tangible items, but God blessed him with a wisdom that no amount of money could have ever taught him.”
Denver recalls, with brutal honesty, how he spent his whole life worrying about what other people thought of him, as he was usually greeted with stares, comments and discrimination. Although growing up unable to read or write, as well as being sheltered from obtaining other types of employment or education, Denver believes that things worked out for the best, observing, “Our limitations are God’s opportunities.” He now speaks of a new life that is worry-free, and praises God for his chance meeting with Ron Hall. In last chapter of the book, Denver says, “I worried that I was so different from them that we wasn’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.
“The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or something in between, this earth ain’t no final resting place. So in a way, we is all homeless – just workin’ our way toward home.”
For more information on a book that will bring its readers laughs, tears, reflection and a renewal of faith, in addition to stirring in them a desire to share it with everyone that they know, visit www.samekindofdifferentasme.com.