|This book had been making the rounds of our staff for several weeks but I hadn’t really explored it on my own when a coworker put it in my hands and said, “You have to read this. This book will make you want to live a missional life.” She was right. Same Kind of Different As Me is the kind of story that speaks to those of us who are attempting to look outside ourselves, outside our little worlds, to the larger picture of what God has orchestrated in the cities and countries across the world. We all have opportunities to be missionaries, every day we have opportunities, yet we miss them or ignore them or just refuse to get involved for whatever “logical” reason we give ourselves. But if there’s anything I know it’s that God will continue to bring us into situation after circumstance until we submit to His work and simply reach out beyond our comfort zones. And this story of Denver Moore and the couple who did just that is proof positive that nothing but reward will come from this act of obedience.
“When you is precious to God, you become important to Satan.”
There’s something I learned when I was homeless: Our limitation is God’s opportunity. When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin you can do, that’s when God takes over. I remember one time I was hunkered down in the hobo jungle with some folks. We was talkin ’bout life, and this fella was talkin, said, “People think they’re in control, but they ain’t. The truth is, that which must befall thee must befall thee. And that which must pass thee by must pass thee by.” You’d be surprised what you can learn talkin to homeless people. I learned to accept life for what it is. (Chapter 44, pp. 169-170)
The next morning Denver knocked at the kitchen door again. We sat at the kitchen table, stirred our coffee. He dropped his head and paused a long moment, unhurriedly collecting his thoughts like shells on a beach. Then: “God gives each person on the earth a set of keys, keys to live this life down here on the earth. Now in this set, there is one key you can use to unlock prison doors and set captives free.
“Mr. Ron, I was captive in the devil’s prison. That was easy for Miss Debbie to see. But I got to tell you: Many folks had seen me behind the bars in that prison for more than thirty years, and they just walked on by. Kept their keys in their pocket and left me locked up. Now I ain’t trying to run them other folks down, ’cause I was not a nice fella—dangerous—and prob’ly just as happy to stay in prison. But Miss Debbie was different—she seen me behind them bars and reached way down in her pocket and pulled out the keys God gave her and used one to unlock the prison door and set me free.”
Denver pounded home those last words like eight separate nails, then sat back in his chair, sipped his coffee. He put the mug down. “She’s the onlyest person that ever loved me enough not to give up on me, and I praise God that today I can sit here in your home a changed man—a free man.” (Chapter 47, pp. 179-180)
After everbody went on to the house, I stayed up there with her, sittin on a bale a’ hay. Sometimes I talked to God, askin Him why. Even though I’d had a word or two from Him about His purposes, and even though I’d delivered them words to Mr. Ron like He asked me to, that didn’t mean I had to like it. And I told Him I didn’t like it. That’s the good thing ’bout God. Since He can see right through your heart anyway, you can go on and tell Him what you really think.
I thanked God for [Miss Debbie’s] life and the simple fact that she loved me enough to stand up to me. That got me cryin. I cried and cried out loud and told Miss Debbie that was the most important thing she taught me: “Ever man should have the courage to stand up and face the enemy,” I said, “’cause ever person that looks like an enemy on the outside ain’t necessarily one on the inside. We all has more in common than we think. You stood up with courage and faced me when I was dangerous, and it changed my life. You loved me for who I was on the inside, the person God meant for me to be, the one that had just gotten lost for a while on some ugly roads in life.” (Chapter 53, pp. 192-193)
The pain of losing Deborah still brings tears. And I cannot mask my profound disappointment that God did not answer yes to our prayers for healing. I think He’s okay with that. One of the phrases we evangelicals like to throw around is that Christianity is “not a religion; it’s a relationship.” I believe that, which is why I know that when my faith was shattered and I raged against Him, He still accepted me. And even though I have penciled a black mark in His column, I can be honest about it. That’s what a relationship is all about. (Chapter 66, pp. 230-231)