Trust First Book Summary - Trust First Book explained in key points
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Trust First summary

Bruce Deel with Sara Grace

A True Story About the Power of Giving People Second Chances

4.4 (23 ratings)
23 mins
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    Trust First
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    Intervening in a gunfight made Deel realize that giving people trust is even more important than food. 

    One day in 1997, Pastor Bruce Deel arrived bright-eyed and optimistic at a liquor store parking lot in the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta, bearing pots of delicious hot chilli to serve to the people living there. He’d just started a six-month visiting pastorship and had no idea what the community was actually like – except that many people lived below the poverty line. It was certainly a far cry from the affluent suburbs where he usually worked. 

    He and a volunteer started ladling portions of food into people’s bowls. Everything seemed to be going smoothly when, suddenly, Deel heard a commotion. Looking up, he saw that a woman had pulled a gun on a man who was shouting abuse at her. 

    Deel battled his shock and fear and gingerly stepped between them. Meeting the woman’s gaze, he placed his hand on hers and softly asked, “You don’t want this, do you?” Slowly, she lowered the gun and walked off. The situation had been defused.

    Deel felt completely shaken. He’d expected to have problems like running out of cheese, not needing to intervene in gunfights. Suddenly, his contribution felt very measly indeed. What good were a few bowls of chilli in a community dealing with such levels of violence and deprivation? And what could he, a naive white guy from Virginia, do to help a largely African American community with experiences so different from his own? 

    Then he remembered the woman with the gun. Simply by trusting her, and assuming the best of her intentions, he’d been able to contribute to the situation. Allowing her the space to follow her own best instincts had helped her relax, lower her gun, and walk away. Trust had enabled her to show that she actually didn’t want to pull the trigger. 

    A couple of days later, Deel returned to the area, this time with baked potatoes and lemonade. He was surprised to see that no one was there – the streets were deserted. He asked a passerby where everybody was and learned that they’d assumed the pastor would never return after the violent incident the week before. So many other would-be do-gooders before him had been scared off after experiencing the reality of the neighborhood. 

    Deel looked the man in the eye and uttered words that would prove to be prophetic: “We return.” Sure enough, over 20 years later he’s still there. From that altercation in the parking lot, City of Refuge was born.

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    What is Trust First about?

    Trust First (2019) recounts Pastor Bruce Deel’s remarkable journey to creating City of Refuge. Since its founding in 1997, this innovative social project has helped thousands of the most vulnerable people in Atlanta, Georgia and has been emulated by NGOs around the world. Deel reveals how the policy of offering unconditional trust allowed him to build meaningful relationships, completely transform his ideas about poverty, and learn what it means to provide support to people in crisis. 

    Best quote from Trust First

    Trusting that someone can change their life doesnt mean you know they willit means you believe in their ability to try. 

    —Bruce Deel with Sara Grace
    example alt text

    Who should read Trust First?

    • Burned-out activists looking for new ways to transform communities
    • Curious Christians who want to learn about one of America’s most inspiring pastors
    • People who love memoirs – or simply a good tale of triumph over adversity

    About the Author

    Bruce Deel is the founder and CEO of City of Refuge, a nonprofit organization that’s assisted more than 20,000 people with housing, educational programs, healthcare, and other social support. Deel is also Senior Pastor of The Mission Church and serves as a consultant to multiple NGOs across the United States.  

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