Same Kind of Different As Me

Same Kind of Different As Me

SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS  ME, Always See The Good In Others…

See It Before Anyone Else! The Jimmie Hale Mission is hosting a special premiere of, Same Kind of Different as Me, at the AMC Vestavia theatre Wednesday, October 18 prior to the national release, October 20. Two shows, 6pm and 7pm. Tickets must be purchased in advance, $5 per ticket. Purchase at www.skodam.eventbrite.com, call 205-323-5878 or email bonnie@jimmiehalemission.com.

Children seem to resonate with this adage but in an adult-size world, execution proves difficult. Judgment and bias cloud perception, ultimately blurring the heart.  Perhaps no other story of this century better supports this premise than the New York Times bestseller, Same Kind of Different As Me.

Written ten years ago, the book took the world by storm. Published in over 14 languages with nearly a half million copies sold, Same Kind of Different As Me became a beloved novel for children and adults. Now, its author, Ron Hall, has joined a powerhouse team of actors and producers to bring this tale of friendship, forgiveness, and love to the big screen.

Due in theaters October 20, 2017, Same Kind of Different As Me tells the true-life story of an international art dealer, Ron Hall (Academy Award® Nominee, Greg Kinnear, As Good As It Gets, Heaven Is For Real) whose life is crumbling under the pressure of pretense and appearance. Marital infidelity strains his relationship with his wife, Debbie (Academy Award® Winner, Reneé Zellweger, Chicago) and he is estranged from his alcoholic father (Academy Award® Winner,  Jon Voight, Coming Home, Ray Donovan). Debbie digs deep to forgive Ron under the condition they put shared purpose back into their marriage. She encourages Ron to volunteer with her at a local homeless shelter where Ron encounters Denver (Academy Award® Nominee, Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond, Amistad), the most unlikely friend he’d ever meet. The narrative follows the lives of these characters as they discover how to risk loving, how to loose life and give till it sometimes hurts.

“This is a story about what love can do,” said Hall. Debbie’s forgiveness of my infidelity required love, and that Christ-like love not only transformed my life but millions of other lives as well.” The repercussions of Ron’s infidelity and Debbie’s subsequent forgiveness served as a model for Ron as he found himself face to face with individuals he normally would dismiss. “At that time in my marriage, I didn’t attend to the fact that we’d started going different directions. Debbie was chasing after God and I was chasing after money. I was not looking for a friend, certainly not one in the form of a big, black, angry homeless man,” recalls Hall. “Denver wasn’t looking for a friend either, especially a privileged white, rich man. In all honesty, I was not rich until I met Denver.”

The beautifully written screenplay by Hall, Alexander Foard, and Michael Carney certainly reflects this truth. At one point in the movie, Denver says, “God don’t give us credit for loving the folks we want to love anyway. No, He gives us credit for loving the unlovable.” Moviegoers see the payout a simple act of kindness and an open heart can have.  “The relationship between Ron and Denver has a lot of different layers,” Kinnear explains. “There’s suspicion, there’s distrust, but over time there’s honesty, and ultimately there is love. In the end, they believe in one another.” Viewers see this same sequence unfold between Ron and Debbie, and Ron and his father.

The star studded cast of Greg Kinnear, Jon Voight, Dijimon Hounsou and Renee Zellweger shares the true story of God’s love lived out in a miraculous way.

The film challenges viewers to question the notion that people are forever products of their environment. It is said that the past molds a person, but Same Kind of Different As Me shows how grace can melt a mold and provide an opportunity for new life and new relationships. And it all starts with Debbie. “She believed that kindness begets kindness and her mission was to make a change within the community,” said Zellweger.  “Change begins when one person makes a decision to put their hands on something, or into something that needs fixing, and recognizing their own ability to have an effect.”

Debbie’s impact on Denver is powerfully depicted in the film. Viewers first encounter an intimidating, loud homeless man wielding a baseball bat and threatening others. Debbie looks past Denver’s callousness, into a tender spot in his heart. “Denver suffered at the hands of other people all his life,” said Hall. “How he came to trust Debbie and subsequently me, can only be explained by the power of love.” Zellweger echoes, “What an exceptional person that she’s able to see people in their best light.  She looks past whatever damage causes them to be fearful in the world and act out. It’s inspiring.”

The unique fabric of this story is that there is no central character.  All four main actors interact to unfold a tale that at onset seems unbelievable. Perhaps the finest cinematic moments come when Denver shares dollops of wisdom or “Denverisms” as they’ve come to be known. Things like, “Our limitation is God’s opportunity.” Or, “When you get all the way to the end of your rope and there ain’t nothin you can do, that’s when God takes over.”

Hounsou is simply dynamic in the film.  Having his own brush with homelessness at a young age, the actor draws from personal experiences to give a compelling performance. “Denver is not talkative but when he opens his mouth, he seems to say a lot,” reflects Hounsou. “It’s a rare opportunity for an actor to be blessed with a role so soulful. To embody Denver’s spirit was at once an emotional challenge and an extreme privilege, learning the story of a man who came from so little and gave so much.”

Silence mixed with well-placed words—often grammatically incorrect but always life-altering—made Denver bigger than life. Those who had an opportunity to meet Denver before he passed recall a gentle giant filled with wisdom that seemed to flow from Christ. As one woman recalls, “Everything about my life, how I viewed myself and others, changed when I encountered Denver.” Hall concurs, “I marveled at Denver’s counsel and sought him out for advice time and again. I tell you, he was always spot-on with a fresh message from God. He spent countless hours behind a dumpster, in solitude talking with God.”

From Script to Screen

The movie, Same Kind of Different As Me, was seven years in the making and nearly bankrupt Hall in the process. When asked why he didn’t just abandon the project and enjoy the success of his best-selling novel, Hall explains, “I made Debbie a promise that I’d never abandon Denver and I’d champion the homeless. In fact, Debbie and Denver inspired me to make a movie that would keep our message alive.” Since launching the movie, Hall and his family have set up, samekindofdifferentasme.org., a nonprofit organization that serves as a sort of 911 call center for underfunded missions and homeless endeavors. Their mission is to raise money, goods and services for organizations that serve the homeless, abused, addicted and hungry. “It’s not the color that divides us. It’s the condition of our hearts.  If we get our hearts right we can cause a rising tide and bring hope to those who’ve lost it,” says Hall. 

-Susan Reinfeldt, Author & Owner of The Write Word. Five years ago, Susan had the honor of working alongside Denver and Hall to raise money for The Nashville Rescue Mission, an organization she continues to passionately serve.

Photos: Courtesy of Paramount Pictures. All rights reserved.

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Revelation Walk Reaches Thousands

Revelation Walk Reaches Thousands

Mission Makers

The Revelation Walk outdoor drama is designed for teens through adults and will be performed every Saturday in October at Eden Westside Baptist. The event is free but a donation of $10 each is suggested.

To date more than 45,000 people have experienced the “Revelation Walk” hosted by Eden West Side Baptist Church in nearby Pell City. The interactive dramatization is portrayed in over fourteen outdoor scenes based on the book of Revelation. Eden West Side’s senior pastor, Rev. Jacky Connell explains, “It’s an exciting drama that reaches out to a lot of different types of people…I think this brings people face to face with questions about eternity and the future.” Connell adds that although the script is updated each year, the core message of the walk always comes straight from Scripture. “The introduction to the walk can change, based on the theme that year. For instance, we may begin the drama with a family in distress, but then it transforms itself into biblical Revelation.”

The Walk requires the help of about 250 volunteers including actors, actresses and support staff. Rev. Connell marvels at the energy of volunteers even as they enter their nineteenth year of production. “I think what keeps the momentum going [for the event] is that we see eternal results. We see people actually give their lives to Jesus…Our volunteers are giving their lives away to something that has value.”

The drama will be performed every Saturday in October, 7-10:30 p.m. Groups of 20 to 50 experience the walk together, and the walk lasts about one hour. Reservations are available but not required (205-338-7711, ext. 245).  “Our goal is to meet people where they are,” says Connell. “People today are asking questions, ‘What is life all about? What is death about? What is eternity about?’ We are trying to give a snap shot of those things- to bring people to Jesus Christ as Savior.” Learn more at www.edenwestside.org.

– Laurie Stroud

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Lending a Helping Hand: Habitat for Humanity & Wells Fargo

Lending a Helping Hand: Habitat for Humanity & Wells Fargo

Mission Makers

As a part of a national effort to improve the homes of Veterans across the country, Habitat for Humanity Greater Birmingham and Wells Fargo volunteers recently teamed up to improve the homes of two local Army veterans. “We all share a common interest and passion to serve those who served our country,” said Richard Busby, Wells Fargo V.P. and Senior Community Dev. Officer in Mid South Region. “This is a tangible way to show our gratitude and bring community together.” Established in 1987, Habitat Birmingham is a nonprofit Christian housing ministry serving Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. The organization is dedicated to making quality, affordable housing solutions available to low-income families. Learn more at www.habitatbirmingham.org

Volunteers focus on exterior repairs and painting at the homes of veterans living in Bessemer and East Lake.

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Visible Faith

Visible Faith

Encouraging Word

Faith is defined in Hebrews 11:1 as the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction (evidence) of things not seen. And Hebrews 11:6, goes on to say that without faith it is impossible to please God. Romans 10:9 adds, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” From these verses we see that faith is the foundation and a necessity to become a Christian!

Can faith become visible? I believe the answer is “yes!”

In Luke 5, we have the account of the healing of the paralytic. Jesus was teaching and the friends of the paralytic, who were carrying him, could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd. So they went up on the roof, removed the roof tiles and lowered the paralytic down to where Jesus was. In Luke 5:20 it says, “And seeing their faith, . . . .”  Jesus saw their faith through their actions.

James 2 tells us that genuine faith produces works (activity).  James 2:17-18 says that faith without works is dead. Faith is made visible through works. Also, Matthew 5:16 shares, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Ephesians 2:10 also adds, “for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Genuine faith produces Christian activity. Faith and works go together. Christian works make our “faith visible.”

-Tony Cooper 

Celebrating 27 Years of Service as Exec. Director, Jimmie Hale Mission

www.jimmiehalemission.com

 

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5 Ways to Build a Strong Foundation of Faith

5 Ways to Build a Strong Foundation of Faith

Bringing Out the Winner

I read an article recently that stated that 24% of young adults under 30 years old have zero religious affiliation. The article also said that the Christian faith is on the decline, dropping down to a little over 40% of the population in America. Is this true? Not sure what the article’s percentages were based on – but it does make you step back and think…

Will my child be part of these percentages one day?

Passing on to our children the faith we share in Jesus Christ doesn’t just happen. This is especially true in today’s society where many would argue that the Christian faith is under attack.  Being persecuted for our biblical beliefs has become the norm rather than the exception. Our children will not have a strong faith within their own hearts without guidance and instruction from their parents. Here are just a few ideas of how to build a solid foundation of faith in our children:

1) Pray with your children DAILY.

2) Do short devotions (not sermons) with your children to help engrain biblical truths.

3) Admit your own mistakes instead of covering them up – this builds trust.

4) Show your children a truly giving heart that loves unconditionally.

5) Exemplify Christ, and they will watch – children listen with their eyes.

We all have estate plans to pass along our earthly possessions to our children. Why not set up a plan to pass along the most important thing in the world? Faith in Christ and a heavenly eternal destination that is secured in Him!

It’s our call.

John Croyle, Founder, Big Oak Ranch 

Author, Who You Are/Defying the Circumstances that Define Us, Bringing Out the Winner in Your Child, The Two Minute Drill to Manhood and Raising a Princess, www.bigoak.org

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Strangers Next Door

Strangers Next Door

Best Books 

Author J.D. Payne is Pastor for Church Multiplication at The Church at Brook Hills and oversees the church’s Institute for Disciple Making, church planting and pastoral training. He began serving at Brook Hills in 2012, after pastoring churches in Kentucky and Indiana and serving as a seminary professor.

When I was a child, the neighborhoods around me were either white or black. I remember only one Asian student, and she spoke with an Alabama accent, so I’m not sure that counts. The only Spanish I heard was in Spanish class, and most of that was unintelligible. The demographic composition began to change, however, after I became an adult. Now I have neighbors who are Hindus. A family from Thailand owns a business a few doors from mine, and a gentleman from Pakistan operates a gas station not far from my elementary school. How should our churches respond to this demographic shift? We should praise God. The world is coming, and we have a message of grace for them.

  1. D. Payne, a minister at The Church of Brook Hills, believes that God has orchestrated the migration of non-Christians to our country for a purpose – the building of His kingdom. In his book, Strangers Next Door/Immigration, Migration and Mission (InterVarsity Press), Payne explores the missional opportunities which immigration affords the American church. He offers clear examples of how churches can reach the mission fields in their own neighborhoods. America now has immigrants from over three hundred unreached people groups, people whom God loves and for whom Christ died. We should not be afraid of their presence. We should welcome them, befriend them, and do what Jesus instructed us to do – make disciples of all nations.

A few minutes after writing the first paragraph of this article, I assisted a young man in my bookstore. He left that day with his very first Bible and some advice on what portions to read first. In the next few days he will read the story of Jesus and encounter the Savior of the world. He is beloved by God. He is sought by Christ. He is an immigrant from Tanzania.

Darrel Holcombe, Owner
Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts
Colonial Promenade, Alabaster

205-663-2370

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Laurie’s Blog

Laurie’s Blog

Papa Can Fix It

“Pappa” J. Mark Kuehnert with grandsons Benton, Jonathan and Trae. Papa turns 80 October 17, 2017! HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA! WE LOVE YOU! Thank you for sharing Jesus with us!

My father has never been afraid of trying to fix anything. And as my mom will attest, most of the time he succeeds. His motto has always been, “Only if I run into a snag, will I call the professionals.” Papa has fixed many things in our home- a leaky faucet, a broken window, a jammed door, and the list goes on. I’ll never forget years ago, when one of the boys riding toys broke under the weight of a four-year-old on a two-year-old toy. I heard the simple reply, “Let’s ask Papa to fix it.” I could not bare to tell him that even Papa was going to find it hard to repair this toy’s broken plastic wheel.

Isn’t it a relief to know that when our lives are broken by the challenges of this world or the poor choices we make we can rely with great certainty on the fact that God can fix it? His love is the only thing that can truly heal our hearts and lives. All we have to do is ask Him.

And what a gift it is to have in our lives parents and grandparents like “Papa” who turn our eyes toward the ultimate fixer- Jesus Christ- who died and rose for us and offers us eternal life with Him!

– Laurie Stroud 

Founder, The Christian Family Publication, Inc.

www.BirminghamChristian.com

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Birmingham Christian Family OCTOBER GIVE-AWAYS

  1. Family 4-Pack to American Village. Four general admission tickets to visit the American Village in Montevallo and see our great American history come alive ($40 Value). Follow us on Instagram for a chance to win! @cfpbirmingham. Winner announced 10/18/17 on Instagram and Facebook.
  2. Two Tickets to Christmas Village. Sign up for our E-newsletter at www.birminghamchristian.com or on our Facebook page, Facebook.com/BirminghamChristian for a chance to win 2 tickets to Christmas Village at the BJCC Nov 2-5. Tell your friends to sign up too and take you with them! Winner announced 10/25/17 on Facebook.

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UAB Football’s Bill Clark

UAB Football’s Bill Clark

Back in the Game

“There’s bringing it back and there’s bringing it back the right way. I think we’re bringing it back the right way,” says Bill Clark of the reinstated football program at UAB. The Blazers game on Sept. 2 at Legion Field marks the first since the program was eliminated in 2014. Photos Courtesy UAB Athletics

When the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) discontinued its football program in 2014, Bill Clark had just completed his first season as head coach with a 6-6 record that made his team eligible for its first bowl appearance since 2004. What seemed like a giant step in the right direction for the program was followed by the University declaring the sport fiscally unsustainable. This was a devastating blow for the coach, his team and the community, but it wasn’t long before Birmingham businesspeople, alumni and former players began to rally: Blazers football will return. “Obviously it was tough, but to watch those people fight for us made me want to stick around and help them make a difference,” Clark remembers. “One of the things that I always wanted was to be a part of making a difference in a community or a school. That’s the stuff I’ve always loved.” Raising more than $44 million to fund both the program and new operations facilities, the team kicks off the 2017 season with a game against the Alabama A&M Bulldogs at Legion Field on Sept. 2. Clark celebrates the victory by reflecting on how his small-town upbringing and lessons in faith led him to the life he leads today.

A Passion for the Game. Clark jokes it was an air conditioner that first influenced him to fall in love with football. The son of a high school coach, the only way for him to get cool in his Ohatchee, Ala. home was to hang out in the room with the window unit A/C, which also happened to the office where his father watched films to prep for upcoming practices and games. “That was where I liked to hang out, for obvious reasons, and spend time with him. I loved everything about the sport,” he says. “I loved the strategy. I loved the interaction with the players. I loved game nights. I loved pregame speeches. I think everything that went with it, I enjoyed, and I just knew that’s what I always wanted to do.”

Grounded in Faith. Clark’s family eventually moved to Piedmont, Ala., where his father took another coaching job. His mother was a home economics teacher who played piano at the local church. “It was a simple childhood growing up, just athletics and church and school,” he remembers. “Most things revolved around the community… We were brought up that the church is just a part of everything you do. I was lucky in that—blessed I guess is the word—that’s just kind of who we were.” Life changed when Clark’s mother was killed in a car crash when he was 19 years old. Already studying physical education and history at Jacksonville State and starting his own coaching career, he moved back home with his father as they dealt with their loss. It’s an experience he draws on to this day when mentoring young men. “I tell guys all the time there’s always the why of why things happen. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t think that. One of the best people I had ever known—just as good a person as you’ll ever meet—was killed. That is when your faith is so important. That’s when you need it.” Clark says he never had any doubt that his mother’s resting place was in heaven. “That’s the faith that helps us go on.”

Dream Come True. Clark’s first head coaching job was at Prattville High School, where his players were awarded 106 wins and only 11 losses during his tenure. They won back-to-back Alabama High School Athletic Association State Championships for the 2006 and 2007 seasons. In 2008 Clark began coaching at the college level as defensive coordinator at the University of South Alabama until 2012. He then spent one season as head coach at Jacksonville State University before he was hired at UAB.

Coach Bill Clark and wife Jennifer with their children at daughter Katie’s October 2016 marriage to son-in-law Justin Spinks. Son Jacob Clark is a Redshirt Freshman for Blazers football this year. Photo: CWF Photography

Seeing the Big Picture. Prepping for the return of Blazers football has not been a singular focus for Clark’s team. Joined by Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) staff, he leads the charge in giving back to the community that supports the program. Last year coaches and players teamed up with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham to become Big Brothers and mentors of males in middle and high school in the greater Birmingham community. Participating students were bussed from their schools once per month to spend time with their Big Brothers on the UAB campus. Clark also purchased and donated 100 season tickets to the upcoming season to the mentoring program. In June, Clark and more than 40 members of the UAB Football team helped construct a five-bedroom house as a part of Habitat for Humanity’s 30th Anniversary build in Pleasant Grove. “College age, sometimes it’s easy to just think about yourself, but when you get around Big Brothers Big Sisters or you are doing something for Habitat for Humanity, you realize this world is bigger than you and we are called to serve other people,” says Tavon Arrington, UAB Campus Director for FCA, which returned to campus with the help of Coach Clark and former UAB FCA Board Chairman Charlie Nowlin.

Observing his athletes both on and off the field, Clark says youth today are intelligent and tech savvy but still need the face-to-face effort that a team sport like football offers. “I don’t think kids have changed as much as our expectations have changed. These kids today are so smart. They’ve got access to so much information,” he says. “[However,] human interaction is so important, and that’s the great thing about athletics. It still requires the same things it required 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It takes each other, it takes a physical effort, and I think an emotional effort, which is what I love about football. It takes more than yourself. It is truly a team effort.”

Keeping Faith First. A member of Church of the Highlands with wife Jennifer, Clark says lately his faith has been centered on whether the fruits of his faith can be seen in his character and actions. “What do people see in us that tells them something is different? That can be hard for coaches. I know for players and myself, when you are in an ultracompetitive world where everything revolves around winning and losing, I have to remind myself of that.” As a couple, wife Jennifer explains that prayer helps keep them grounded in what matters most. “Praying together is important to us, and Christ is at the center of everything we do and every decision we make,” she says.

“I tell our players all the time, for sure I’m not perfect,” says Clark. “There was only one perfect One, but hopefully that’s something that people can see in our daily walk and how we carry ourselves. Hopefully they see that as something they want to be part of.”

  • Camille Platt

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How Can God Use Our Faith? Find Out at Beeson’s Lay Academy of Theology

How Can God Use Our Faith? Find Out at Beeson’s Lay Academy of Theology

Special Feature

Without faith it is impossible to please God but how can God use our faith to do the impossible? Moving mountains? The ability to do anything? Are these powerful proclamations too profound or too often overlooked? Beeson’s Lay Academy of Theology invites the community to participate in non-credit classes and other study opportunities this semester to learn how we can believe God in such a way that an unbelieving world sees no other way to be saved except through our Lord Jesus Christ. Each course will be led by Beeson faculty on the campus of Samford University in Homewood.  Here’s a peak at a few of the courses.

Divine Signs: God’s Fingerprints in all of Reality. Scripture tells us that “the heavens and the earth are full of God’s glory.” In leading this class, Dr. Gerald McDermott will draw from details in his soon to be published book Heaven and Earth Are Full of the Glory: Seeing God’s Fingerprints in All of Reality (Brazos Press, 2018).  “The message is that 20th-century Christians were told that we should not presume to know what God is saying about signs of His presence in nature and other dimensions of reality. But most of the history of Christian thought has said that all of reality is full of signs (or ‘types’) of His presence,” explains Dr. McDermott. “I will explore what is evident in the following six dimensions of reality: nature, science, law, history, sports, and love.” Dr. McDermott serves as the Anglican Professor of Divinity at Beeson and teaches in the areas of history and doctrine. His class will be held on six Tuesday nights, 6-8 p.m., beginning September 26.

The Household of Faith: What Every Believer Should Know About the Church.  All believers are called to salvation, service, sacrifice, and simplicity. Dr. Doug Webster will lead this exploration into the deep biblical roots for the priesthood of all believers, the integration of faith and work, the shared gifts of the Spirit, the character of Christian leadership, the nature of numerical and spiritual growth, and the priority of true worship and real mission. Dr. Webster serves Beeson as professor of pastoral theology and preaching. His course will be offered on six Thursday afternoons, 1-3 p.m., beginning September 28.

Six of Twelve (Part 2):  Nahum to Malachi. “In this class we will continue a series on the Minor Prophets begun last fall. We will make our way from Micah to Malachi,” shares Dr. Mark Gignilliat who will give special attention to how these books have been interpreted in the history of interpretation as the class engages these ancient, yet youthful voices. Dr. Gignilliat teaches at Beeson in the areas of Hebrew and Old Testament. His Lay Academy class will be held on six Monday nights, 6-8p.m., beginning September 25.

Register early for courses at discounted rate of $89 per class. Learn more and register at www.beesondivinity.com/layacademy or call 205-726-2731. †

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