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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