24 Oct 2017

Rock Star Witnessing

By |2017-10-25T00:09:19-05:00October 24th, 2017|Book excerpts|0 Comments

Lifestyle soon earned us the label ‘Jesus Freaks’

In my early years (the late ‘70s), I was introduced to the fundamentals of the Christian faith. I discovered that this Jesus Christ that I had personally encountered was the same Jesus Christ that had also touched so many other lives.

These initial years of our JPUSA ministry were rightfully branded as “radical.” We were out on the streets, witnessing to anyone who would listen. We were not ashamed of our faith. All we knew was that God had touched our lives, and we desired to follow him. This type of lifestyle soon earned us the label “Jesus freaks.” (We even owned a big red school bus with JESUS painted in big, bold white letters on each side!)

Besides witnessing, our days were filled with worship, prayer, and Bible classes. Everyone was assigned chores—washing dishes, cooking, cleaning—whatever was needed to make our group feasible. We also started our own businesses. Painting, moving, printing, and roofing were some of the first undertakings we launched to help support ourselves.

In addition, we published a magazine called “Cornerstone” right from JPUSA’s origins. Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s it served as a newspaper and a witnessing tool. In it we featured all kinds of articles that dealt with the issues of the day. It was very artistic, creative, and challenging. It was one our ways of reaching out to our generation.

Another significant outreach was our very own “Resurrection Band.” This was “Jesus rock” at its best, which we affectionately called it “music to raise the dead.”

But it was the magazine that attracted me. I don’t even remember how it happened, but somehow or other I began showing an interest in writing for the magazine. JPUSA had a general policy that said anyone could try anything. So I was blessed to try out my writing skills for Cornerstone. And the rest was history.

I was honored to write, research, and interview for Cornerstone for thirteen years. During that time, I wrote a wide variety of articles. I even wrote a couple of personal stories about the homeless. For one, “Out on the Streets,” I pretended I was homeless for a couple of days. For another, I did the same and ventured out to Chicago’s O’Hare Airport, which had become a refuge for the homeless during those years. (Both of these articles are included in this book.)

I also, became involved in what we called “rock-star” witnessing—which evolved into rock-star interviewing for the magazine. I’d always had a love for music, and an interest in the messages proclaimed in rock’n’roll music.

These interviews became a passion of mine. I would study a group’s lyrics, do my best to assess what the group’s spiritual beliefs (if they had any) might be, and then respectfully dialogue with them.

As one might imagine, I received all kinds of reactions from the various rock stars I tracked down as they came through Chicago on tour. A few of the stars I was able to have brief encounters with included the Rolling Stones, Robert Plant, Pete Townsend, Ozzy Osbourne and Iggy Pop. There were many others as well, and I have fond memories of those adventures.

Excerpt from ‘Discovering Jesus in the Least‘ by Chris Ramsey
Chapter 7, How I Discovered That I Fit in With the Least, Page 38-39
Copyright © 2017 Chris Ramsey.

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23 Oct 2017

Peter Case Concert–Great!

By |2017-10-23T12:57:35-05:00October 23rd, 2017|General|0 Comments

I had an enjoyable evening going out to Fitzgerald’s in Berwyn, IL, just outside of Chicago. I went with a couple of friends—Bob Thompson and Brach Siemens from JPUSA. We were going to see a guy who I’ve followed for many years…a musician extraordinaire named Peter Case. He’s an incredible story-teller and sings about all the complexities of human existence in our world. And he uses his gift to zero in on the many injustices that plague the least of our society. I can’t recommend him enough! If you haven’t ever checked him out, I encourage you to do so. Latest CD–Highway 62. And also a just released live-recording of a 2000 session entitled “On the Way Downtown.” It’s got a number of his “classic” tunes.

I got a chance to chat briefly with Peter, and I was blessed to give him one of my books. He was happy to receive it. Please pray for him as continues to tour.


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15 Oct 2017

Moses believes in Jesus

By |2017-10-15T16:42:50-05:00October 15th, 2017|General|0 Comments

Sordid past forgiven!

I was walking home from a book-fair when I ran into Moses. Moses was in a wheelchair and he summoned me to help him get across the street. I wasn’t in any big hurry to get home, so I didn’t mind. Soon we got to talking and he told me he’d been a wheelchair for a while. His toes had been infected with gangrene.

After chatting a few moments, I asked him if he believed in Jesus? He was quick to respond, “Oh yeah, I’m with him!” He then went on tell how he used to be a pimp on the Southside for many years, but then he came to the Lord in 2000. “Yeah, Jesus set me free from that kind of life,” he said. “I used to get beat up by the cops real bad, cause you know what I was doing was called “white slavery,” and they didn’t take too kindly to that.”

Moses went on to tell me that he had still had to sleep on the streets for a couple of years—even after he’d given his life to Jesus. Life had not been easy for the 57-year-old. He told me that he was on the street outside the Uptown Baptist Church when some gang guys started shooting a few years ago. One man was fatally shot,and at least three others badly injured.

He then asked me to take him to a convenience store to do some shopping and then wheel him to the bus-stop. I was happy to help out… for he had so freely offered a brief snapshot of his life.

Here was Moses McDuffy from the Southside of Chicago… and he’d come to believe in Jesus. I was blessed to make his acquaintance, and help him got on his bus.

In fact, it was my privilege. Chris.

9 Oct 2017

Chris’s Athens Adventure and the Least

By |2017-10-09T08:40:00-05:00October 9th, 2017|General|0 Comments

Almost left behind with the least

My last blog talked about my wife Sandy’s and I’s trip to visit our son Jon, his wife Ola, and our 1-year-old granddaughter Frania in Warsaw, Poland. We had a great time visiting with Ola’s family, and I had an interesting afternoon meeting a few of the least in downtown Warsaw.

But our visit was just getting started. Jon and Ola had graciously offered to take us to a nice resort on the Greek coastline for a week. It was one of those “all-inclusive package deals.” You know, where you pay one flat fee which includes your roundtrip airfare, the tour bus trip to and from your destination, your lodging, and three fabulous buffet-style meals each day.

Needless to say, it was a week filled with beauty, rest, relaxation, and fun times with our family. And it also included a trip to Athens to see the Acropolis and the Parthenon. But there was one catch. The only group that was scheduled to take the Athens tour was a Polish speaking tour-led group.

My daughter-in-law Ola was happy to help me get signed up for the tour. But she did voice her “opinion” that she thought I was a little “crazy” since I wouldn’t understand a word that was being spoken and how could I enjoy it. And there was also her concern for the heat that particular day. It was forecasted to be in the high 90’s. And she knew the trek up the mount where the Acropolis and Parthenon sit would not be a cake-walk.

Of course, she could not deter me. My way of thinking went like this, “Hey, I don’t exactly get to Greece very often (like never!) and if my only “shot” to see a bit of Athens and the historic ruins was with a Polish-led speaking group in “very hot” weather well then I was going to take it.” (Sandy had made the choice to stay back at the resort.)

Anyways, our tour guide, Kate, did speak fairly good English, and she was happy to direct and inform me (on the side) as to what I needed to be aware of so that I would know to expect at each stop on the tour.

Everything went along without any glitches for the most part. I just followed along with the group, but I was mostly off to the side of the group, trying to find any English “captions” that would explain the history of the “ruins” we were looking at in the Acropolis museum.
And when we started our accent up the hill towards the pathway up the mount to the Acropolis, I spotted one of the least pushing her “dolly” loaded with her belongings. I made an attempt to communicate with her briefly… with not much transpiring.

Next I ran into this fascinating gentleman hawking “Greek” flags to the tourists that ambled on by. I was happy to purchase a flag for only 1 Euro (a little more than $1.00 U.S.) And he was happy to receive a card advertising my book and website.

Soon we were trekking up the mount to the Acropolis on a very rugged and rough pathway. And we were delighted whenever we’d encountered a patch of small trees along the route. A bit of shade offered a few minutes relief from the blazing sunlight.

And wouldn’t you know it but I ran into a serious “Cubs fan” on the way up. Nothing like a small world.

The Acropolis and the Parthenon are truly impressive. It is absolutely mind-boggling how these massive structures were built on such a high mount overlooking the entire the city of Athens. But then you stop and think for a moment (as Jon and Ola later pointed out), “Oh yeah, slave labor…and lots of it!”

After a while our group went down the mount into the market square. There, we were told that we had about 2 free hours to shop and explore on our own…but that we needed to meet back at the designated spot to regroup and then hike a few blocks to rendezvous with our bus.

I had a good time shopping and exploring … but it did seem to pass far too quickly. I met a couple of the least hanging outside the metro station. One was named Mohammed, standing by the garbage. And the other wrote out his name in Greek, but that didn’t tell me much.

As my “free time” was heading towards expiration I encountered this one shop that was run by the friendliest little 86 year old lady and her granddaughter. She was extremely helpful (without being overly pushy) in assisting me to find a few souvenir, gift type items to purchase.

I made it to the designated spot where our group was to meet. And Kate simply informed the group (and me) that we would be making our way through the heart of Athens to re-board our bus back to our resort. Kate carried a 10 ft. pole with our “Rainbow” group flag waving in the heat, and she started out leading the way. All the group had to do was to simply follow along, and not lose sight of the flag.

All was well, as we ventured through a few blocks of downtown Athens.

I soon noticed that many of the members of our group were spread out along the sidewalks as much as 40 -50 yards. This was because our group was simply a few folks amongst a bustling downtown Athens crowd. Still, all we had to do was keep that flag in sight.

I’d occasionally get distracted by some of the least along the route. But I knew this wasn’t the time for casual talk. So I kept up with the group for the most part, but I was definitely on the tail end.

And then it happened. I became enthralled with this “homeless” couple sitting on a park bench. I just had to go over and check them out.
I hurried right over to where they were sitting and introduced myself and told them that I worked with the homeless in Chicago. They weren’t overly impressed (I don’t blame them!) and I talked with them a little more, and asked if I might take their picture.

“Sure, why not?” the man responded.

“Ok, thanks,” I said. “Can I give you a little change for your time?”

“No, don’t worry about it,” he said.

I was then confronted by another soul who made it known that he would be happy to accept any change I might offer.

The man on the bench quickly consented, “Yeah, give him the money.”

“Ok,” I responded. “Thanks for your time. I’ve got to catch up with my group.” And with that, I turned to look for the flag, but it was nowhere in sight.

I began to panic thinking, “Oh no, how could I let myself get so distracted with this couple?” But then I got a hold of myself (or so I thought).

I was in middle of this “park square,” and I was noticing that there were only three “probable” directions the group could have gone. I hurried along one side of the park, not seeing our group or any “flag.” And then I noticed some stairs leading down to a metro stop.

“Now, could they have gone this way?” I reasoned. “I mean, didn’t I hear Kate say that we might have to take a metro to get to our tour bus?”

I raced down the stairs anxiously looking for any “flags” or any familiar looking folks from our group. I started to scan the many folks, which included many tourists, in hopes of spotting someone I recognized. But no such luck…

I “toyed” momentarily with the thought of getting on the train. Then I thought better of that.

So I turned and ran back up the stairs out of the metro station. I was really beginning to panic now. I was thinking, “Oh man, now I’ve really done it. I’ve really messed up. I might actually be “lost,” and I’d never be able to live this one down.”

And what was worse I’d have to admit that my daughter-in-law, Ola, was justified in her reservations about me going on this tour by myself. She knew that it could be easy—especially for a guy like me—to get lost amongst all these Polish-speaking folks.

But I did have my last option. It was to go up another set of stairs. I went up the stairs and then I noticed what I thought was a government building that I had seen earlier in the tour directly across the street.

This was a welcome sight. And as I turned to the right I began to notice a number of other sightseeing/tour buses lined up across the street. Still, I did not see “ours” at first. But then I looked down the line of buses and spotted a big, white one just like the one we had come in. And it did look like it had the big “Rainbow” group sign in the bus’s front right windshield. But I couldn’t be sure. It was too far away.

So I crossed the street, running as fast as I could (not very fast), and along the crowded sidewalk towards the bus when I was met by Kate about 25 yards from the bus. She had a “relieved” look on her face.

“I’m so glad to see you, “ she said. “I was beginning to think we’d lost you. Where was it that you lost us?”

“Oh, it was when you were going up the stairs and to the right,” I humbly conceded.

“Oh well, you’re here now, “ she said.

“Yeah, “ I responded.

I then hurried onto the bus and sank into my bus seat, feeling like a 1,000 lbs. had been lifted off me. I had made it… just. Just barely.

And just think if I didn’t make it, I might have to spend the night in Athens with the least. Then I’d really have something to write about!

But seriously, I hope you enjoyed my adventures in Athens. And please say a prayer for the least in Athens. As with any large city in our world, there’s more than a few.

And oh yeah, you can always do more than pray.

Be blessed. Chris

P.S. Sandy and I had great time with our family in Vrachati, Greece. We were truly blessed. And we thank Jon and Ola and Frania for taking us on an extra special trip. My only question is, “Where to next?”

Wherever “it” might be, I hope I remember to keep that “flag” in sight!

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