Today’s guest post is in honor of Denver Moore who went home to be with the Lord (“Ex-Homeless man who co-wrote bestseller dies at 75″) this past weekend. He & Ron Hall guestblogged for us in December, 2010. I’ve never re-posted before, but here you go. Might it inspire us all … as Denver did through his redeemed life.
The idea of serving others was impressed upon me by my late wife Deborah when she insisted I accompany her to a homeless shelter in search of a man she had dreamed about. Her story is now chronicled in our book Same Kind of Different As Me. Since the very first day we walked in the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth, Texas, my thoughts on serving have forever been changed
This Christmas season as we encounter the hundreds of “God’s People” less fortunate than us, I am reminded of a great example of serving and blessings told in the words of my co-author Denver Moore. The following story is from Chapter 24 of our second book What Difference Do It Make.
This fella I know that had done been in the military once told me that when a soldier or sailor gets kicked out of the military for bad behavior, they call it a BCD.
“What that really means is Bad Conduct Discharge,” this fella told me. “But what we call it is getting the Big Chicken Dinner.”
Well, over in Seattle, one of them folks that Mr. Ron calls a “ground-zero reader” gave a big chicken dinner to a homeless fella like me, and it changed his life forever. I don’t know how, but somehow a copy of our book worked its way across Washington state from Pastor Dave’s church in Pasco to a little town near Seattle. The woman that got it had a eight-year-old son. She wadn’t no religious woman. But after she read our book, she told her boy, said, “The next homeless person we see, we’re going to help them.”
Of course, she didn’t know there’s a difference between helping and blessin——that blessin means you give a person a little gift to show ‘em you think they matters on this earth, and helping is when you stoop down with a person and stay there till they can climb on your shoulders to get up. Didn’t matter ‘cause the important thing was, this lady’s heart had been touched.
The very next day, she and her boy were comin back home from the grocery store with one of them chicken dinners that’s already done cooked. When they pulled into the alley next to their house, the boy seen two homeless fellas diggin in the trash. Now, I’m pretty sure they wadn’t pullin the hamburger drop ‘cause ain’t no sense in that if you doin it where nobody can see you and give you a dollar.
The little boy, he says to his mama, “Let’s give them the chicken dinner we just bought at the store!”
So they did, and they watched as them two fellas sat down in the alleyway and had themselves a feast—–a Big Chicken Dinner of a different kind.
A few minutes later, back at their home, that woman began to experience what she calls a strong “impression.” Now, like I said, she believed in God in a real general way, but she was not a religious woman. But she said she felt something inside her heart leadin her the way Christian folks might describe being led by the Holy Ghost. Whatever it was, she began diggin in her purse for some cash to give to them fellas that was still outside enjoyin their Big Chicken Dinner.
She came up with forty dollars, and she couldn’t even believe she was about to give it over to a pair of raggedy-lookin hobos. But like she told us, she couldn’t help it. So she and her son went back out to the alley and handed each one of them fellas a twenty-dollar bill.
Now, I is a expert, and I can tell you that there ain’t hardly no homeless folks that ever has nobody hand ‘em no twenty-dollar bill. Them fellas must a’ thought they won the lottery that day.
But listen at what happened a few months after that. The woman and the little boy was at home, and here come a knock on the door. The woman put her eye up to the peephole and seen this nice-lookin, clean-cut gentleman standin on her front porch.
“Hello, ma’am,” the man said when she opened the door. “Do you know who I am?”
“No sir,” the woman said.
“I’m one of the two homeless men you gave a chicken dinner and twenty dollars to awhile back. Can I come in and tell you how you changed my life?”
The woman was purty nervous about letting a stranger in, and to tell you the truth, she prob’ly shouldn’ta done it. But she was thinking to herself how different he looked, and besides, how in the world could he know about the Big Chicken Dinner and the lottery money if he wadn’t who he said he was?
The woman decided to welcome him into her home; then she called her son into the livin room to hear what this fella had to say.
“You know what I did with that twenty dollars?” he began.
She smiled, expectin him to say that maybe he’d bought the nice clothes he was wearin.
“I took it straight to the closest bar and got drunker than Cooter Brown!”
That’s exactly why I don’t give money to the homeless! The woman thought. But after she got over her shock, she remembered that this fella looked a whole lot different than what he had that day in the alley, so she decided to listen to the rest of his story.
“While I was at the bar, I met a woman that worked there,” he told her. “No one in as bad shape as me had ever been in that place before. Well, her curiosity got the best of her, and she asked to hear my life story. I told her I’d been homeless on the streets for more than twenty years.”
The woman in the bar asked this fella about his family.
“They think I’m dead!” he said.
The bar woman was shocked. “That’s not fair to your family,” she said. “You have to let them know you’re still alive!”
“You don’t understand, ma’am. I’ve done so many bad things, they’d never want to see me again. In their minds, I’m better off dead.”
See, that’s the thing about doing all them bad things. After you done ‘em, you pretty sure you done used up all your chances with anyone that ever loved you. But that ain’t always true.
That night, the woman at the bar talked that fella into goin back to his family to see if maybe it wadn’t too late. At midnight, she put him in her own car, drove him down to the bus station, and with her own money, bought him a one-way ticket and put him on the next bus home.
Reminded me of the good Samaritan, using his own money to help out a poor fella he ain’t never seen before while everybody else—–includin the religious folks—–was satisfied to pass on by.
The Seattle woman and her little boy listened to the man they had blessed with twenty dollars finish telling his story.
“My family treated me like the prodigal son!” he said. “They were so happy to see me. I spent three months at home, and they forgave me and loved me sober. I’m still in recovery, but I’ve got a job and a future. And I just came back to thank everyone who helped change my life.
“Your twenty-dollar blessing was the seed money God used to turn me around,” he said.
“I was going to use it to drink and forget my troubles, but God used it to make me remember He still changes lives, even the lives of drunks in bars.”
I was sho ‘nough happy to hear that story ‘cause it shows that even if you bless some needy person just a little bit, God might use other folks down the line to weave your little gift into a bigger blessin. And if you bless folks, you gon’ get the blessin back, no matter what they does with the money. So you give the gift with no strings attached, and let God take care a’ business on the other end.
Denver Moore and Ron Hall co-authored Same Kind of Different as Me, which became a national bestseller. That led to hundreds of national appearances and a White House luncheon honoring the pair in 2008. But Hall must now tell their story alone. Mr. Moore, 75, who had been in ill health for several years, was found dead at his Dallas residence over the weekend.