Who Is Your Neighbor?
with Ron Hall
“The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus,
‘And who is my neighbor.’” (Luke 10:29)
Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach his followers to show compassion to people in need, regardless of race or social background.
In the parable, a Jewish man was robbed, beaten and left for dead beside the road to Jericho. At different times during the day a Priest and a Levite saw the injured man as they traveled the road. They both sized up the situation, possibly considered their own social status and the personal cost to them if they stopped to help the man, and chose to avoid any contact with him. Samaritans and Jews despised each other, but it was a Samaritan who gave aid without hesitation.
A modern version of Jesus’ parable is the story of Denver Moore.
For over twenty years, Denver slept on the streets of Fort Worth, Texas. Thousands of people stepped around him or crossed the street to avoid the beefy, scary man curled up on the sidewalk who was known on the streets as the “Lion of the Jungle.”
The Good Samaritan was a woman named Deborah Hall, whose heart broke at the sight of homeless people. The first time she saw Denver, he was barefoot, shirtless, and wore dirty, ragged britches. After a brutal fight, he was the last man standing—threatening to kill anyone in striking distance to get the person who stole his shoes.
Debbie never thought, “What’s going to happen to me if I help this man?”
She asked, “What will happen to him if I don’t help!”
Debbie was a beautiful, wealthy woman who believed God had told her to love and care for the unlovable of her city. She refused to call them vagrants, street people, or even homeless.
“They are God’s People,” she told me.
“Sons and daughters of the King and God loves them just as much as those people who think they are better than them.”
Debbie and I were serving an evening meal at the Union Gospel Mission as Denver came through the line. When she asked him his name, he locked onto her eyes with an angry stare and threatened her.
“You don’t need to know my name. I’m a very bad man and you better not mess with me. Just give me some food and leave me alone!”
In an extraordinary move, she lept over the serving counter, got right in his face with her finger on his nose and said, “You are not a bad man, you are a good man. God has a calling on your life and you are going to live to see it!”
A hush fell over the mission’s dining hall. A resident of the mission said, “That skinny little white lady just tamed the lion of the jungle!”
Debbie saw Denver with God’s eyes and pursued him for months through the inner city with a motherly compassion -- like he was her own. He didn’t trust anyone and made it known that he didn’t want friends. He ran and hid, even threatened her, but she never gave up.
Months later, she and four friends persuaded him to go with them to a three-day spiritual renewal retreat. For the first time in his life, Denver realized he was a man of worth in God’s and Debbie’s eyes. That weekend he took the first step on a long road to recovery, salvation and restoration.
That’s a brief description of Denver, the man in the ditch, and Debbie, the Good Samaritan. But I, Debbie Hall’s husband, was the man who acted like the Priest and Levite.
For years, Denver slept near the garage where I parked my new Mercedes and less than a block from the gallery where I displayed millions of dollars in art. Afraid for myself, I avoided contact and left the problem to someone else. But my wife’s love for Christ made a difference for the homeless in Fort Worth, transforming me along the way.
Eight years after Debbie told Denver that God had a calling on his life he stood in the ballroom of a grand hotel -- the same hotel on whose rear sidewalks he’d slept -- to be honored as the Philanthropist of the Year for his work with Fort Worth’s Union Gospel Mission. He became a board member of the mission, overcame his illiteracy and now travels as a motivational speaker raising large sums of money for the homeless in America’s cities.
Denver tells people how “Christ in Miss Debbie was the Hope of Glory for him!”
Debbie heard God and persisted until I received God’s heart of compassion for people different from me, and Denver became God’s mighty man. As a result, Denver is making a difference for the homeless. He is also my close friend. God intertwined our lives to bring a miraculous chain of events that keeps unfolding for His glory.
This Week -- When you see people who have fallen by the wayside, ask yourself, “What will happen to them if I don’t show compassion and help as God directs me?” God’s heart is broken when we close our eyes to the needs of our neighbors.
Prayer -- “Lord, help me see with your eyes those who have found themselves in desperate times. I want to love ‘God’s people’ without judging. Let the Christ that lives in me be the hope of glory for my neighbors.”
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