Chris Ramsey’s Blog

10 Jan 2020

MEET THOMAS: “NO DOUBT ABOUT HIM!”

By |2020-01-10T13:06:11-06:00January 10th, 2020|General|0 Comments

Thomas and Pastor Greg fellowshipping at Cornerstone

 

IN FACT: “HE’S A LITTLE LIKE JESUS TO ME!”

 

Thomas is a man I’ve gotten to know over the past several years.  He stops in to our pantry and soup kitchen every now and then, and he stays at our men’s shelter every once in a while.

He’s kind of shy and reserved.  But recently he told me that he came to Chicago in 1997 from his home country, China.  He worked for a time, but then he got in a car accident and broke his leg.  Then he was placed in a nursing home for over a year, and the staff tried hard to get him to stay with them.

But Thomas told them that he didn’t want to stay.  He told them that he had to go to college to learn English.

And so, this was the beginning of his “trek” in and out of homelessness.  He’s stayed at Cornerstone, on and off, over the years.  “God has arranged for you to be a support in my life,” he says.  “And I consider this to be my home. This is a beautiful place.  People have been very kind to me.”

Then he went on to say, “God is with you, and God sent you here to help us.”

We chatted some more, and the manner in which Thomas communicated just “oozed” with so much simplicity and sincerity, that it couldn’t help but touch my heart.

“When I come to this place, it just makes me feel younger, “he said.  “I have good friends, good support, and good food. You really are Jesus to me. ”

I just sat there next to him, and all I could say was ,“You know, Thomas , you are Jesus to me.”

And isn’t it just “amazing” how God seems to meet both of our “needs” simply by putting us both together in one place.

Thanks for stopping by.  Chris.

20 Dec 2019

WATCH OUT FOR THOSE GOD-WINKS

By |2019-12-20T11:32:00-06:00December 20th, 2019|General|0 Comments

THEY CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME… AND WHEN THEY DO

BE OPEN TO “WINKING BACK” IN SOME FORM OR FASHION

 

I was on my way to work, walking down the back alley from our house when I felt God nudge me to go a different way.  And so I headed that in that direction.  Soon I was walking along the backside of a bus shelter.  And when I got to the front of it, my eyes were drawn to a large suitcase and a bag sitting there, alongside what appeared to be a person completely zipped up in a red sleeping bag.

“Hello,” I said.  “Are you alright in there?”

“Yeah, I’m alright,” a women’s voice responded.  “Just tryin’ to stay warm.”

“Oh, I see,” I said.  “My name’s Chris… what’s your name?”

“Rose.”

“Well, I was wondering if you have a place to go… you know to stay?” I inquired.

“Well, I’m always looking for a 24-hour shelter, but they’re hard to find these days,” she said.

“Have you ever stayed at Cornerstone (our single women’s shelter)?” I asked.

“Oh yeah,” she replied. “But I’ve been barred from Cornerstone.”

“Ok, I understand,” I said.

I was tempted for a moment to ask her why she had been barred, but then I thought better of it.  I’ve already been privy to so many stories over the years about folks who just crossed one too many boundaries… due to serious mental health issues or just plain refusing to be “civil” with staff or other clients.

“Well, I’ll pray for you to find a spot to go,” I said, as I turned my back to her and began walking away.

“Hey, you don’t happen to have $10 on you, do you?” she boldly inquired.  “You know, so I can get something to eat?”

I turned back towards her.  “No, I’m sorry, I don’t,” I said.  “But you can come over to Cornerstone this afternoon,we’ll be serving a good meal over there at 1:30pm.”

I continued on down the block towards work when all of a sudden a recent encounter of one woman’s experience with a homeless, Vietnamese man popped into the forefront of my mind.

Her story went like this:  This woman was out with her daughter at a  restaurant, when they ran into this “refugee” man, who could hardly speak English.  They tried to “engage” with the man, and tried to direct him to some agencies for some help, but to no avail.

When they were ready to depart from this man, they decided that the least they could do was give this man a little cash.  (This woman also related how she hardly ever carried much cash on her person.)  But she looked in her wallet and found a $20 bill, and she joyfully gave it him.

What happened next, totally surprised this mother and daughter out for an evening.  The man reacted so enthusiastically that it was unnerving.  The man was just so happy to receive this money, that he couldn’t help jumping up and down, and he was yelling for joy, and then he just turned and ran away.

And the woman and her daughter just looked at each with a big smile on their faces.  And then they got in their car and just looked at each other again, and they both started to weep.

So just before I had completed these memories of her story, I started to turn back towards Rose.  I thought… maybe this is my time to give to someone without any questions, or limitations, or worries how it might be used.

I looked in my wallet, and I had a $5 bill and a $50 bill.  (Now, this also was unusual for me… to have a $50 bill on my person.)

I thought for a  moment and then said to myself, “This must be God.  I mean, there’s just too many “coincidences”happening to me right now.”

So I went back to Rose, who was all zipped up in her bag once again.

“Hi Rose,” I said.  “It’s me, Chris.  You know, the guy who just talked to you.”

“Oh hi, Chris,” she responded from inside her sleeping bag.

“Hey, I just wanted to give you a little something,” I said.

She slowly unzipped her sleeping bag, and reached out her hand.

I gave her the $50 bill folded over.

“Oh, thank you,” she said, quickly cupping the money into her hand.  “Happy holidays.” And she zipped up once again.

I just turned and walked away with a smile on my face.  And then I thought of this T-shirt that I was wearing on that day that boldly proclaimed, “Live Generously.”  I was so pleased that I had followed what I truly believed to be God’s leading.

And I was so glad that I had the opportunity to “wink back” at God via Rose.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Chris.

5 Dec 2019

“LIFE SHOULD BE ABOUT OTHERS” SAYS PRINCE AMUKAMARA OF CHICAGO BEARS

By |2019-12-20T11:54:31-06:00December 5th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Prince Amukamara of the Chicago Bears

THANKSGIVING:  A FESTIVE TIME AT CCO

We at CCO had another great Thanksgiving  with our clients this year.  And this is because so many volunteers and organizations come together and offer their services and gifts.

This year we were particularly blessed by Prince Amukamara,  cornerback for the Chicago Bears, and his Othersfoundation.

He was so happy to donate 80 turkeys to our Cornerstone Food Pantry, so our low-income families could have a nice Thanksgiving.  Prince, himself, was not able to participate because he had to practice for the Bears game with the Detroit Lions on Thanksgiving day.   (By the way, they won 24-20.)

But his wife, Pilar, was happy to come and help pass out the turkeys.  And Lisa Hahner, the executive director for the Othersfoundation,  was also happy to attend.

Prince Amukamara’s wife Pilar is handing out turkeys with our CFO Andrew Winter and fellow volunteers

I got a chance to chat with Lisa for a few moments, and she was generous with her down-to-earth insights on the philosophy of their foundation, and the whole motivation  behind the idea of “giving back” by  professional athletes.

Lisa said that so much good can be accomplished by simply writing a check.  She said that working with Prince and his wife Pilar has been such a joy because they are so eager to help out the less fortunate… especially during the holidays.  She said  Prince put it this way: “Hey, whether you’re rich or poor we’re all the same, we just want to have a nice meal with our families.  And if I can help out a few folks to make that meal a reality, then I’m in.”

The mission statement for the Othersfoundation is “Whatever gift you have, use it for others.”

And on Thanksgiving day , we were blessed with so many volunteers from a South-side Church and Fight to Feed, an organization fighting hunger in Chicago.

And I was blessed to have my son, Christopher, and his son, Aaron, come to help out serve our guests.  The two of them made a great team, serving with joy.

My son, Chris Ramsey Jr. and grandson, Aaron helping to serve our CCO clients a nice Thanksgiving meal

And so for those that have eyes to see, and ears to hear, we at CCO, staff, volunteers, and everyone got to experience a little more of what Jesus meant when he said, “It’s more blessed to give than receive.”

And that’s what Prince, Pilar, and Lisa mean when they say, “Life should be about others.”

Thanks for stopping by.  Chris.

27 Nov 2019

MEET ALEX FROM ROMANIA

By |2019-11-27T11:13:51-06:00November 27th, 2019|General|0 Comments

HIS ADVICE: “Don’t hide under an umbrella!”

I’m pleased to introduce to you, Alex from Romania.  He came to Chicago about 30 years ago, when his native country was under communist rule.  And because of this fact, he tells me that even with all the problems that the United States has it’s still the best place to live by far.  “I really appreciate my freedom,” he says.

For about 25 years he was employed by the Salvation Army, as the assistant to their ministry officers’ team.  He told me that he really enjoyed sharing his faith during those years, particularly in nursing homes.  

“And how would describe your relationship with God now?”  I asked.  

“Oh, I feel him every day,” he said.  “He guides me all the time, and I’m still serving him on a daily basis.  Sometimes I run into some of my old friends from the Salvation Army, and we just give each other a big hug.

Our conversation then turned towards his thoughts on God’s provision.  “You know, God wants to shower his blessings down on us, but many times we kind of hide under an umbrella,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.  

“Oh, really,” I reacted, not quite sure what he was getting at.  “Could you explain a little more just what you mean by that?”

“Sure,” he said. “You see, many times we simply refuse to prepare for the blessings. We refuse to be thankful during our “hard times, and so we’re not ready or appreciative of the good things he does send our way.”  

At this time in his life (the past five years) Alex told me that he’s going through a lot of physical health issues including brain surgery, kidney transplant, strokes, and blood clotting.  Still, he tells me this with a smile on his face.  

I’ve just  learned to accept my life however it goes,” he says.  “I’ve just learned not to get discouraged, and to surround myself with positive things… and to get away from the negative things and people in life.”

Although I had noticed Alex before at our soup kitchen and pantry, I had never sat down to talk with him like this.  There was just something “special” about how God had brought us together on a recent Sat. afternoon.  And I told him that I was so blessed just getting to hear his story, and him allowing me to share it with my readers.  (Indeed, I was so blessed that I had nervouslyextended my out-stretched my hand to him a few times during our conversation.)  

Alex just smiled and shook my hand a final time and said, “Yeah, I never expected to talk with you todayeither… and shake your hand four times!”    

Thanks for stopping by.  Chris.