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Bruce Deel Sara Grace

A True Story About the Power of Giving People Second Chances

4.3 (30 ratings)
23 mins

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Trust First by Bruce Deel with Sara Grace is a captivating narrative exploring the transformative power of trust. In this inspiring read, Deel shares his journey on how trust can break down barriers and bring positive change to communities.

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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. 

    Trust First Review

    Trust First (2021) by Bruce Deel with Sara Grace is a captivating exploration of how trust can transform communities. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Through real-life stories and personal experiences, the authors demonstrate the power of trust in rebuilding lives and fostering connection.
    • The book offers a refreshing perspective on societal issues by highlighting the importance of trusting relationships in addressing systemic problems.
    • With its practical insights and actionable advice, the book equips readers with the tools to build trust and create positive change in their own communities.

    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
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    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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    Trust First FAQs 

    What is the main message of Trust First?

    The main message of Trust First is the power of building trust and connection in communities.

    How long does it take to read Trust First?

    Reading Trust First takes a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Trust First a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Trust First is worth reading as it highlights the importance of trust and its impact on communities.

    Who is the author of Trust First?

    The author of Trust First is Bruce Deel with Sara Grace.

    What to read after Trust First?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Trust First, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Practical Optimism by Sue Varma
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    • 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson