Christian Living


Ron Hall on Faith, Homelessness, and Same Kind of Different as Me

Greg Kinnear and Renée Zellweger's new movie is based on a true story -- Ron Hall and his late wife Deborah's story.

It all began with a dream, one Deborah had that came true when she met a homeless man named Denver. The Halls' were forever changed and it's all captured in his bestselling book, Same Kind of Different as Me, and the upcoming movie, also starring Djimon Hounsou as Denver.

Check out what Hall had to say as he reflected on his book, the new Pure Flix and Paramount Pictures movie, and how their story could heal our broken nation...

What is the new content in Same Kind of Different As Me and why was it important to include it?

The three new chapters bring our previous readers up to date on what has happened since the book was first published in June 2006, covering the 10 years Denver and I lived together and his death March 31, 2012. Also, I've had so many requests to tell how the movie came about. That's a fascinating story that could be a whole another book or movie. Lastly, I talk about where we go from here and how our readers can get involved in their community. We've also included a 16-page color photo insert.

What is the latest update in your story, and how has your life changed personally since the book originally released?

After 11 years of being single, I remarried May 20, 2011. Beth Walker Hall signed up for a very difficult job of helping me carry Debbie's and Denver's torch all across America. Few people realize the grace and dignity she shows to sit before audiences week after week and listen to me profess my love and admiration for my deceased wife. I honor her for that.

How have you carried on the legacy of Denver and Debbie to help the homeless?

Debbie's final words to me were "Do not give up on Denver. God is going to bless your friendship in ways you can never imagine." Together, Denver and I did nearly 400 events in the 10 years after her death. Using our book and story at those events, we helped raise nearly $50 million together for the homeless. After his death, I've continued to share our story at missions, universities, and churches all across America. Now, I think the amount we've help raise exceeds $90 million.

What is the biggest misconception about the homeless community they face?

The biggest misconception about the homeless is that they got themselves in the mess - let them get themselves out. Many people think they are simply lazy. I urge those to make a friend at a local mission and find out how wrong these assumptions are.

Share with us some real-life examples of "Stubborn Angels" in their community.

There is no greater example of a stubborn angel than Debbie. She prayed and fought for a man to change who did not want to change. However, she was schooled by another stubborn angel, Sister Bettie, now nearing 100, who chose homelessness in order to serve God on the streets. She is the Mother Teresa of Fort Worth, Texas. In my visits to more than 250 missions, I've met hundreds of stubborn angles. They are everywhere.

When you hear from people who read the original release of the book, what's the common response?

Readers constantly write to me telling stories of how Same Kind of Different as Me challenged them to step out of their comfort zone and get involved in their communities. It's very rewarding to know that Debbie did not die in vain, but through her good works and inspiration, hundreds of thousands whose dreams have been shattered and lost all hope have been restored.

Tell us more about your foundation. When is it launching, and how do you hope it impacts the homeless community?

Same Kind of Different as Me Foundation was set up recently by Beth and I to meet the needs of smaller missions and individuals that are not being met through the larger organizations. Often, we hear from small missions who just need money to get their electricity turned back on or a van repaired so they can get their clients to medical services. Also, the merchandise we sell such as backpacks and blankets can be used as gifts for the homeless or anyone for that matter. The profits all go to the homeless.

What was it like adapting the original book into a movie?

Two previous screenplays were written by professional screenwriters that I rejected because they failed to get the essence of the story I wanted told. I was encouraged by a famous producer who loved our story to take a crack at it myself. I told him I'd never written a screenplay and he replied, 'You had never written a book and it became a New York Times Bestseller.' So, I sat at my desk for the next three and half months until the story I wanted told was on the page.

What do you hope people gain from reading the movie edition of Same Kind of Different As Me?

I have the same hope and dream for both the movie and book. I want people to see the homeless through the lens of God. Denver used to tell me, 'You never know who's eyes God is watchin' you through.' I want our readers to be those eyes.

With the current state of race relations in this country, what advice would you offer and how does the book address that issue?

It's not the color of our skin that divides our nation; it's the condition of our hearts. Hopefully, this true story will cause every reader to examine the condition of his/her heart.

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