This is a book that I highly recommend! I loved reading it and was deeply blessed by this true story of love and grace.
If you have a heart to reach the homeless or serve the poor this is a great book that will shake your paradigm and challenge you with some deep fundamental questions about friendship, love and loyalty.
The first third of the book is spent explaining the very diverse backgrounds of Ron and Denver. Ron is a white, rich art dealer living the big life, set on pursing success, meaning and purpose through material items and wealth. Denver is a black man who has lived as a sharecropper (modern day slave), convict and homeless vagrant entrenched in bitterness towards white wealthy people.
These two very different men initially encounter each other at a homeless shelter in Forth Worth, Texas. Ron coming to serve food out of obligation to appease his wife; Denver coming for a hot meal wanting nothing to do with the “feel good” charity of Ron. Yet through grace, forgiveness, and humility God brings these two men together and forms a friendship that is inspiring and deeply convicting.
It is vital for the reader to understand that both Ron and Denver come from two very different places, perspectives and situations in life, and yet they both are changed by this reciprocated relationship. This is not a one-sided relationship where the rich man gives and serves the poor man but rather a mutual friendship built around a mutual need for healing and grace.
What I love about this story is the overarching testimony that true friendship (built upon respect, love and authenticity) is what changes people. It is not charity or good will but relationships that bring transformation. When we the rich, realize that our need for God’s grace is just as great as their (the poor’s) need, then God can do a work through both of us.
Though the tendency is to see people like Denver as a project, this book convicts us to move beyond our stereotypes and see the humanity of the poor, who are real people with real stories. The journey that Ron takes in understanding this is best described through their conversation about fishing.
Ron and Denver are discussing fishing when Ron admits that he’s not much of a fisherman. He’s surprised to hear about a certain phenomenon in which white people do what’s called “catch-and-release fishing.” Denver, disturbed by this concept, explains that white people go to all the trouble of catching a fish only to admire it and throw it back in the water. Black folks on the other hand, catch the fish, show others what they caught and then cook it up, eat it and allow it to sustain them. Denver then uses this as an illustration to explain friendship.
“So, Mr. Ron, it occurred to me: if you is fishin for a friend you just gon’ catch and release, then I ain’t got no desire to be your friend. But if you is lookin for a real friend, then I’ll be one. Forever.”
This book challenged me to see service to the poor as a life-long commitment to relationship. Denver didn’t need Ron’s charity or material gifts. What he needed was a true friend.
I can’t say enough good things about this book. It has a compelling, heart warming, and in many moments, tearful story that speaks to the power of God’s grace. It is a must read for anyone looking to engage in service towards the poor. Take the time to read it, and after you do, write me a comment and share how this story spoke to you.