Ron Hall and Denver Moore
Same Kind of Different as Me (2006)
Citation: Hall, Ron and Denver Moore. Same Kind of Different as Me. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2006.
Reading Level (choose all that apply): Young Adult / Parent / Adult
Comments: Real events that may be difficult for some readers.
Author Biography: Ron Hall was born in Texas in 1945 and was raised in Fort Worth, attending elementary and high school there. After graduating from Texas Christian University, he joined the Army. Upon completion of his military service, he worked as a salesman for Campbell Soup. He married Deborah Short, and returned to graduate school where he obtained an MBA and went to work as a municipal bond trader. However, he did not remain in this position but accidentally launched a successful career as an international art dealer and became a wealthy man. At this time, with his wife Debbie, he attended the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth where she, and then he, befriended a homeless black man named Denver Moore. When his wife died in 2000, he and Denver continued to work and speak on homeless causes. Denver Moore was born in rural Louisiana in 1937. He experienced a number of tragic events as a child, extreme poverty, and the racism of that era. In 1966, he was sentenced to 20 years at hard labor in Angola Prison in Louisiana. When he was released in 1976 after serving 10 years, he traveled to Fort Worth and spent the next 22 years homeless. He would occasionally ride the hobo trains around the U.S. In 1998, “Miss Debbie” and Ron Hall met him and it changed all of their lives. Today, he is an artist, public speaker, and volunteer for homeless causes.
Plot Summary: Denver Moore’s life begins in rural Louisiana and he recounts the death of his family members and a childhood of grinding poverty. Raised by a family of share-croppers, Moore could never succeed because farming was basically a form of economic slavery. As a teenager, he stopped to help a white woman who had car trouble, and subsequently was attacked and almost killed by a group of white youths. After attempting to rob a bus at gunpoint, he turned himself in and was sentenced to a twenty-year prison term at Angola State Prison; somehow he managed to survive the experience and was released after ten years. Prison however was worse than share-cropping where prison guards and other prisoners were abusive. Ron Hall was born in Texas and led a relatively normal childhood. He attended Texas Christian University and served in the Army. He later married Deborah Short. After a stint as a soup salesman and obtaining his MBA, he became a bond trader. He bought a piece of art and when he sold it for much more than he paid for it, he became a successful international art dealer. He and Deborah had a good life, and raised two children. Deborah felt that God was calling her to serve the poor, and she persuaded Ron to become involved in the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth. This story is about poverty, racism, cruelty, homelessness, hope, faith and redemption. Ron and Deborah became regular volunteers at the Mission, trying to make a difference. Denver tried to avoid them, but “Miss Debbie” would not allow that. Ron and Denver continued to tell the story in alternate chapters, describing how their relationship developed and how Denver overcame his sense of hopelessness. Throughout the story, Denver’s faith in God was clear, and “Miss Debbie’s” as well. Their faith was challenged when “Miss Debbie” became ill with terminal cancer. Her death was long and painful but her strong faith and determination kept her alive until she was sure her work among the poor was fulfilled. Ron and Denver were determined to continue Debbie’s work and subsequently, Denver was able to see the hand of God at work. The story also demonstrated that all homeless people were not the same, and that our prejudices about them were untrue.
1. There are many people who are homeless today. Denver Moore became homeless when he left prison. What other factors do you think cause people to become homeless? Consider men, women, teenagers, and children. Are the causes the same or different?
2. What do you think when you see a homeless person on the street? How do you react?
3. Have you observed prejudice among your friends and family? In what context? What do you think it says about them?
4. What can you do to combat prejudice in your life? In society as a whole?
5. Why do you think Denver was so reluctant to become friends with “Miss Debbie” and Ron? What events in his life made him unwilling to reach out?
6. Do you think there are ways you can help the homeless? How? The hungry? How?
7. Debbie had to forgive Ron and she was able to. What does it say about her as a person? What do you think it reveals about her faith? Do you think it was easy for her? What about Ron; how did he go about forgiving himself?
8.Denver was always sure of God’s love. How do you think Denver was able to maintain his faith in God with all the tragedy and rough times in his life?
9. How did Denver’s faith help “Miss Debbie” get through her illness and help Ron to get through her illness and death? How did Debbie’s faith help with this? What was she trying to achieve in her life before passing on?
10. After her death, there was a celebration of her life. What will people celebrate about you after you are gone? 11. What has reading this book done to strengthen your faith in God? Has it inspired you to try harder to understand and help others? How?
1. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen or both. Do it on a regular basis for a period of time. Note who comes in – men, women, children, old, young, and whether they come every time you are there.
2. If you are working at a soup kitchen, take a plate and sit down to eat with the guests if the soup kitchen allows it. Talk to the people and get to know them in a general way. If you are working at a homeless shelter that serves meals, you can also do this.
3. Keep a journal as you serve. Ask if you can make a presentation at your parish, or write something for the bulletin.
4. Talk to the people who run a shelter, pantry or soup kitchen. Learn about the needs in the community; how many people are served? What are their needs?
5. Organize a drive at your school or church to get supplies. Homeless people can use small toiletry items (hotel size), socks, warm hats and gloves, toothbrushes, and similar items. Soup kitchens may or may not need food; ask! They do need money and supplies – plates, cups, bowls, napkins, etc. Often these are disposable and thus need to be replaced.
6. Collect food for a local pantry.
Prepared By: Martha Minnich
Date: January 30, 2009