One is U.S. Representative for South Carolina’s 4th Congressional District, and serves as Chair of the House Oversight Committee. The other is the junior U.S. Senator for South Carolina.

One is from a well-to-do Southern family. The other is from a poor working-class background; his grandfather was a cotton picker and his mother, who was divorced, worked 16 hours a day to support him and his brothers.

Before entering political life, one was a lawyer; the other was a businessman.

One is white; the other is black.

But despite their substantial differences, Representative Trey Gowdy and Senator Tim Scott have become close friends.

The two legislators realize that given their widely divergent backgrounds, they could have chosen to ignore one another, focusing instead on forging friendships with men with similar roots. The fact that they did, in fact, overcome their differences in upbringing to work together is a source of hope: If they can find common ground on which to build a relationship, they believe, so can others achieve true friendship in a society which encourages feelings of division.

     *               *               *               *

Gowdy and Scott had never met when they entered the 112th Congress in the fall of 2010. Their early encounters were friendly and supportive, and soon they were working together, eating meals together, campaigning together and making decisions together. When white supremacist Dylann Roof murdered nine African Americans at a historic church in downtown Charleston, Gowdy called his friend Tim Scott to express his sympathy.

Now, they are co-authors of a new book, Unified: How Our Unlikely Friendship Gives Us Hope for a Divided Country, which encourages others to take the path toward friendship. If friendship and reconciliation can happen in Washington D.C., they tell us, it can happen anywhere. The narrative volleys back and forth — with Scott and Gowdy taking turns, each praising the other for his character, his leadership, his kindness, and his commitment to American ideals.

In Unified, Senator Scott and Congressman Gowdy, through their honesty and vulnerability and carefree banter, inspire others to evaluate their own stories, clean the slate, and extend a hand of friendship that can change your churches, communities, and the world. It’s a great read!