“Then the good people will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and give you food, or thirsty
and give you something to drink? When did we see you alone and away from home and invite you into our house?
When did we see you without clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison
and care for you?’
Then the King will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, anything you did for even the least of my people here, you also did
for me.’” Matthew 25:37–40 (NCV)
Ron Hall grew up in Haltom City, just outside of Fort Worth, Texas. After serving a brief two-year stint in the army, marrying his college sweetheart Deborah and earning his MBA, Ron went on to become a wealthy international art dealer who traveled the world buying and selling million dollar Picassos and Van Goghs. Ron and Deborah were living the American Dream. One day Deborah spied an article in the newspaper about homelessness and it mentioned the Union Gospel Mission, a place in Fort Worth that ministers to homeless men, women and children. As Deborah read about the mission, she immediately knew God was calling her to get involved.
Deborah, dragging her husband, Ron, along with her, set out to volunteer at the mission by serving dinner to the homeless for about three to four hours every Tuesday night. Driving home after their first visit to the mission, Deborah told Ron that although society tended to look at those who were homeless as victims of their own foolishness and laziness, she felt like there was so much more to them below the surface just waiting to be discovered. That night, she dreamt about the mission, and in her dream she saw the face of a wise man from the mission who would change the city. The dream reminded her of a verse she had once read in Ecclesiastes 9:15 that said: “Now there lived in that city a man poor but wise, and he saved the city by his wisdom.” When she told Ron about the dream, he didn’t question it; Deborah was one of the godliest people he knew. She was constantly spending time with the Lord in prayer and seeking His will for her life.
For the next two weeks, Deborah and her husband volunteered on Tuesday nights at the Union Gospel Mission in Fort Worth. With a perpetual smile on her face, everyone could tell that she truly enjoyed serving at the mission. When she looked at the faces of the people she was serving, Deborah didn’t see their homelessness; she only saw Jesus. She made an effort to get to know each person, calling them by their first name, and always insisted on referring to everyone who came to the mission as “God’s people.”
On their third Tuesday serving at the mission, a huge, 60-something-year-old black man dressed in rags came storming in yelling and threatening to kill whoever had stolen his shoes. Deborah leaned over to Ron and whispered, “That’s him! That’s the man I saw in my dream … the one who changes the city.” Ron looked at her in disbelief as she went on to say, “And I really think God’s telling me that you need reach out to him.”
After asking around, the Halls discovered the man’s name was Denver and that he came to the mission every Tuesday. Each time Deborah served him, she would look him in the eye and say, “Denver, God has a calling on your life.” When Denver warned her not to mess with him because he was a mean man, Deborah replied, “You are not a mean man, and I don’t ever want to hear you say that!” Wanting to be left alone, Denver started to avoid her. But no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t seem to get Deborah to stop talking to him.
After a few months of volunteering, Deborah began wanting to do more than just feed the homeless. She wanted to see lives changed and broken hearts healed. Racking her brain to figure out how she could bring some joy into these people’s lives, she decided to have a Beauty Shop Night where she and some other volunteers could pamper the homeless women with manicures, pedicures, facials and makeovers. That led to movie nights and then birthday nights. All the while, Denver was watching the Halls’ actions. And over time, he came to the conclusion that they were a genuinely nice couple who was serious about helping people.
At Deborah’s urging, Ron invited Denver out for breakfast, and to his surprise, Denver accepted. As the two men ate breakfast, Denver came out and bluntly asked Ron, “What do you want from me?” Ron was taken aback for a second, but then deciding to be equally forthright, he answered: “I just want to be your friend.” Denver was silent for a moment, but then he finally said, “Let me think about it.”
It wasn’t immediate, but eventually a true, lasting friendship began to blossom between Ron, Deborah and Denver. They started to hang out and spend time together. The Halls even helped Denver get his driver’s license. Moving in both mysterious and miraculous ways, God used the friendship between Denver and the Halls to draw each of them closer to Him and to work in and through their lives to reach countless others. Because of their story and a series of God-ordained circumstances, over five hundred thousand dollars were raised for a new mission facility called “New Beginnings,” and Deborah’s dream of how God would use a man from the mission to change the city was fulfilled.
The Bible is clear that whenever we go beyond the scope of our selfish nature and reach out to those in need, Jesus considers our actions as if we are doing it for Him. Deborah Hall truly grasped this concept, and although he was a little reluctant at first, her husband Ron did too. They stepped out of their comfort zones to go reach out to individuals the world had given up on—the hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick and lonely … those whom Jesus referred to as “the least of these.” They allowed their hearts to be broken by the needs around them, and they chose to view each person they encountered as a child of God.
Will you ask God to help you see those around you with His eyes?