Chris Ramsey’s Blog

17 Jun 2019

1978 Rolling Stones Interview

By |2019-06-17T13:14:43-05:00June 17th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Spring 2019, Mick Jagger recovering from heart surgery.
Advised to Postpone Upcoming 2019 American and Canadian Tour

Pray for Mick, Keith, Ronnie, Charlie, and Bill.

Can you believe it? The Rolling Stones are still very newsworthy.

Mick recently posted: “Thank you everyone for all your messages of support. I’m feeling much better now and on the mend—and also a huge thank you to all the hospital staff for doing a superb job.”

And then in another post: “I’m so sorry to all our fans in America & Canada with tickets. I really hate letting you down like this. I’m devastated for having to postpone the tour but I will be working very hard to be back on stage as soon as I can. Once again, huge apologies to everyone.”

Mick Jagger

So with the Rolling Stones still very much in the news and even having a tour planned and then postponed due to Jagger’s heart surgery, I was prompted to reprint an old “rock-star” witness that Cornerstone Magazine ran back in the summer of 1978. It was my friend, Jon Trott, and myself who had the opportunity to meet up with a few of the Stones.

As you will see, we weren’t shy about sharing our faith. That was the way it was back then. We were “Jesus freaks” on a mission. And if you had asked me if I thought that the Stones could possibly be touring (or even alive!) in 2019, I would have answered, “No way.”

But then again, who am I? What do I know about the future of anyone? Not much, not anything really.

All I know is that I believe in II Peter 3:9: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise (of a day of judgment coming), as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

And so with those thoughts in mind, I invite you to listen in on the brief encounters we had with a few of the Stones back in 1978.

All of a sudden Jagger pulls up in his limo. He and his girlfriend get out and survey the whole setup. Everyone stands back in awe. He’s here.

A series of people casually file by making their adoration vocal. Seeing Jagger alone for a second, I walk up to him and blurt out, “Hey, Mick, you know Jesus loves you?” as I hand him a couple of tracts. He takes the literature and with a quick negative glance, takes off behind one of the trailers.

It was July 8, and we were backstage at the Rolling Stones concert at Soldier Field here in Chicago. After getting a quick witness to Mick Jagger, we continued to share with a few people who were a part of the Stones’ entourage. Amidst the trailers, small tents, the barbecuing, and the drinking, we had quite an eventful day. We knew the Lord had gotten us in, but was there going to be another chance to witness? All we could do was pray.

That night, the Stones showed up at a small club where Muddy Waters was playing, and we got another chance to talk to them. When the show was all over, they were whisked into a small dressing room in the back of the club. “Now you’ve got ten minutes,” the manager told us. “There’s a lot of people back there, and I’ve got to keep them moving in and out. So when I tell you you gotta go, you gotta go, OK?” “OK.”

So when we entered the dressing room, we knew didn’t have much time. We quickly took in the scene, which revealed a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of about thirty in a small, dank, dressing room. Nearly everyone had a drink in their hand and the atmosphere was bubbling. Jagger was standing off a ways from Muddy Waters and the other Stones. I boldly approached him. “Hey, Mick, remember me? I was the guy who handed you a couple of tracts down at the concert today. What do you think?”

“I get them all the time. I don’t really get into tracts,” he said in his thick English accent.

“Well, anyway, do you know the Lord really loves you? He really cares about you?” While I continued telling him of God’s love for him, he started mumbling under his breath, “You can’t be telling me this. You can’t be telling me this. You can’t be telling me this.” All of a sudden, he looked up from his drink and threateningly blurted in a stage whisper, “Hey, aren’t you afraid the Lord will put a curse on you?” “It’s only the devil that’s going to put a curse on anyone,“ I replied. He sarcastically shrugged and said, “Oh.”

He didn’t want to continue our conversation, but it was crowded and while he was trying to get away, I leaned over and said, “You know something? The devil has a real hold on you, but the Lord can set you free!” He stopped for a second. He was stunned and acted like he couldn’t believe his ears. I added, “We really love you Mick, and we’ll be praying for you.” He slowly continued to mingle in the crowd and soon left.

Ronnie Wood

Ronnie Wood was busy whooping it up. “Hey, you know the Lord really loves you?” I said.
“Oh, yeah, I know He loves us all,” he said, very drunkenly.
“Don’t you know that He wants us to live for Him? “
“Hey, man, I ain’t got time for that stuff. My life’s too messed up already without giving it to the Lord; it’s bad enough. That’ll make it worse. Besides, I’m having too much fun right now. I can’t think about that.”

“But, Ron, don’t you see that if we can’t get along with the Lord down here, we’re never going to get along with Him for eternity?” “Yeah, I see that,” he said hesitantly. “But hey, man, really, the Lord’s too heavy for me, man.”
“Well, we really love you, Ronnie, do you know that?” “I know you do. I really do. And I have to admit, you really make me think. You kind of set me back about three steps.” “But really, don’t you ever get tired of this whole party scene?” He thought for a second, “No!” “Hey, by the way, where’s Bill Wyman, anyway?”
“Oh, he’s back in the hotel, all whacked out.” “You know, Jesus does love you, and we’re all praying for you and we care about you.” He seemed to lighten up a little and said, “Hey, man, that’s cool, thanks a lot.”

Bill Wyman

Then I looked over at Keith Richards. He looked really out of it. He looked like he was on what they call a “mean drunk,” so I hesitated to go over to him. Charlie Watts was sitting off to the side, all by himself, so I went up to him.

Charlie Wats

“Hey, you know Jesus really loves you, Charlie. He wants you to be living for Him.”
“Yeah, I know, “ he said casually.
“Have you ever really received Him into your heart?”
Thinking . . . ”I don’t know.”
“Well, if you don’t know, then you haven’t.”
“Hey, man, I’m doing alright.”
“Yeah, but are you serving God? Is he number one in your life?”
“No, I can’t say that.”
“Well then, what is? Do you live for yourself?”
“No.”
“Other people then. You live for other people, right?”
“That’s right.”
“Well, that’s still wrong, you see, because the Lord wants to be number one. You see, it says in the Bible that you have to love the Lord your God with your heart, soul, mind, and body. Then other people come second.”
“Hey, man “ Charlie said. “You know if Billy Preston was here, he ‘d be preaching to you.”
“Yeah, I know. I talked with Billy Preston recently. Do you know he has a Gospel album out?”
“Yeah.”
I told him that we really did care about him and that we’d be praying for him.
Finally, I turned back to see what Keith Richards was doing. He looked like he had lightened up a touch. I went over and butted into his conversation in a nice way. “Hey Keith, you know the Lord loves you.” He was stumbling around.

Keith Richards

“Yeah, yeah, I know He cares about me,” he said cynically. “I just hope He cares about me enough to keep me out of prison.” (Richards was facing some criminal drug charges in Canada at the time.)
“Well, you know something, Keith, even if you have to go to prison, He wants to be right there. He wants to help you out.”
He seemed to turn bitter. “Hey, man, I don’t even want to talk about this anyway.”
I told him Jesus really did care about him. I just wanted him to know that he had a bunch of people here in Chicago that would be praying for him.
We witnessed to a few more people and then we felt it was time to split. As we were leaving, an old man, who was the chauffeur for the Stones, was having a rough time walking down the stairs. He was really blasted. So I offered to help him down. He refused. Then I said, “Jesus loves you.” He suddenly became enraged and, in a fury, hurled his glass down the stairs, where it shattered.

Looking back on the whole day, I couldn’t help but remember what it used to be like for me. I used to be an old Stones freak. My favorite band. I would have thought this was really great, to be backstage with the Stones, to go to a nightclub where they were at, and then get a chance to talk with them. That would have been heavy.
But all during the day, I just couldn’t help feeling pity and sorrow. Even that afternoon, while they were playing, with sitting backstage, it seemed like the Lord was speaking to me, “Do you know that these guys could be dead in a week?” And then I thought of Lynyrd Skynard, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin.

Above all, I felt He showed me that these guys are really scared, and I’m sure that they have a lot of late nights when they curse the day that they were born. And when they sing, “I can’t get no satisfaction” ( ironically, it was their last song of the concert), I’m sure they mean it a lot more now than they did back when it was first released.
What’s more, it seemed to me that these guys had lived their lives to the hilt for the devil. They went all out. And this is how we believers need to be living for the Lord. We need to be living all out. Let’s pray for the Stones. You never know what’s going on down in their hearts.

End of 1978 interview.

And now that we know that the Stones are still “rolling” can we still find it in our hearts to keep on praying for them?
And so, that is what I’m asking you to do.
Because remember what the Lord has said—that he’s not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. In fact the verse before this one tells us that God’s timing is not like our “timing” in our mind’s comprehension. In fact, “With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.“ (II Peter 3:8b)
So even though the Stones have been going for more than 50 years and say they want to keep on going, it’s really just a drop in the ocean of time.
You just never know what might happen. And maybe we’ll never know if anything has ever happened in their relationship to God or not.
Our lot is to pray for God’s mercy towards these folks. After all, he sure did show us a lot of mercy and grace, right?
And we’re no more special than they are
So this could be “The Last time” that the Stones and everyone living like they do (or wish they could) hear this message. Why? Because none of us know how much time we have left. And “Time” is definitely not on their side”… especially at their ages.
And God says to us all: “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” (II Cor.6:2)

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris 

20 May 2019

The Walk Home

By |2019-05-20T11:34:52-05:00May 20th, 2019|General|0 Comments

Encountering 3 Beautiful Souls on Wilson Ave.

I was walking home from work when I ran into three beautiful souls on Wilson Ave. I had a quick chat with each one, and they each gave me permission to post their pics.

#1 Beautiful Soul. Meet Thomas.

Thomas is a man that I’ve known for a few years. He’s frequented our food pantry and soup kitchen. He always seems to have a smile on his face, and he’s always so grateful for anything that Cornerstone is able to give him.

Thomas says he believes in God . . . and I believe him.

 

#2 Beautiful Soul. Meet David.

 

David is someone that I hadn’t met before. (But then I can’t be certain of that, my “recall” cannot be trusted anymore.) Still, I introduced myself, and he quickly responded with “Chris, hey, you know that’s my son’s name.” And I said, “Oh yeah, that’s cool.”

We chatted for a few moments, and he told me that he was definitely a believer in God. And he said it with such calm, conviction that nothing more needed to be said.

As I turning to go he said, “Hey, you want to know how my son got his name?”

“Yeah, sure,” I said.

Then he went to tell me about the first girl that he had a crush on in Junior High School. “Her name was Chris,” he said with a smile. “So I thought you might find that interesting.”

“Oh yeah, that is interesting,” I responded, and wished him well.

 

#3 Beautiful Soul. Meet A.J.

Then I ran into A.J. sitting against our local convenience store building next to his bicycle.

A.J. told me he was 58, and that he no longer ran the streets like he used to. He said he used to drink a lot and live the life of a gigolo.

But then one day he got so wasted that he nearly died. The doctors told him that he had three times the amount of alcohol of a normal “drunk” person in his system.

After that encounter, he said that the Lord had a “serious” talk with him. He decided to get some help and in 2004 he joined Alcoholics Anonymous. He also started going to Uptown Baptist Church from time to time.

“The Lord’s been good to me,” he said. “He’s really taken care of me.”

So on a casual walk home I met three beautiful souls. And all it required was slowing down and engaging these folks for a few moments.

Thanks for stopping by.

Chris

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 May 2019

Unexpected Prayer Warrior

By |2019-05-01T09:59:13-05:00May 1st, 2019|General|0 Comments

You never know where a prayer warrior may be found!

I was out walking about Uptown doing a couple of errands when I noticed a friend of mine through the window of one of our neighborhoods classic grills. I waved at Kathy, and then I ventured into the restaurant to say hi. She was glad to see me. “I haven’t been able to make it to Cornerstone lately,” she said. “My husband’s health has taken a turn for the worse . . . so I’ve had to take care of him a lot more.”
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I responded.
“Yeah, things have been a little rough lately,” she said.
I then turned to her friend, who was sitting quietly across from Kathy.  “Hi, I’m Chris, from Cornerstone. What’s your name?”
“Hi, I’m Heather, nice to meet you,” she said.
We then got into a conversation and Heather told me that she’d lived in Uptown for about 7 years, but she didn’t go to church because of some health issues.  And she went on to tell me that we all need to be witnesses for Jesus.  And one of her ways of sharing her faith was to make crosses out of yarn and give them out for free.
“Wow, that’s really cool,” I said.
“‘Cause you know, we’re a part of the bride of Christ, and Jesus is the groom,” she continued.  “And Jesus wants us to be praying for all the folks we come in contact with. Jesus wants us to pray against the power of Satan. He wants us to ask Him to remove the problems that are in the person’s life we’re praying for. I know, because I’ve been a prayer warrior since I was 13.”
We chatted a little more, and then I told Heather and Kathy that I was blessed to talk with them, if only for a few minutes. And I continued to complete my errands.
You just never know when or where you might meet someone pretty special.  I guess you just have to have “ears” that can truly hear, and “eyes” that truly see.
And I’m not saying that I always do have those kind of ears and eyes.  Because I know I do not.
Thanks for stopping by.
Chris
26 Apr 2019

Fallout Shelter

By |2019-04-24T10:43:06-05:00April 26th, 2019|Book excerpts|0 Comments

There’s an old metal sign that hangs on the outside of our Sylvia building. It’s placed about five feet above our entrance door and about two feet to the left. It’s only about a foot square, so it doesn’t catch your eye when you walk in.

Indeed, I’d bet a good number of our workers, clients, and visitors have never even noticed it. It’s rusted, but still legible. It reads, “Fallout Shelter-Capacity 593.”

Those of us who are older (baby-boomers and beyond!) will remember what these signs signified. They broadcast the fact that our building—a large five-story, fortress-type structure—would open its’ doors to the public should we come under a nuclear attack. It was a place that people could escape to in hopes of surviving a nuclear blast.

Fallout is defined as, “The descent through the atmosphere of particles, often radioactive, stirred up by, or resulting from, a nuclear explosion.” And the term shelter is defined as, “that which covers or defends, a place of protection; a refuge.”

Thankfully, our building did not have to be used for those purposes. But I’m sure it was somewhat comforting to know that there was a building one could escape to should the “unthinkable” occur.

So what does this have to do with our present-day work of sheltering the homeless? A few ironic observations come to mind.

This building was never intended to actually “shelter” people on a regular, year-round basis. It was intended to be a place of employment for lower class folks in the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s. The shelter aspect of the building was to be used only in the event of a nuclear emergency.

Sylvia Center

Now, in the 21st century, this building is being used to shelter people on a regular, year-round basis. But there is a difference. Our present-day capacity as set by the city of Chicago is 340.

So how did this building go from being a profitable place of employment to an old, run-down structure that offers temporary shelter for those who are not “making it” in our society?

The answer is simple, but not really simple. I presume that a once thriving industrial business (Mechanical Servants) ran into supply and demand issues, which in turn affected their bottom-line. They went out of business, but the building remained. And it remained essentially vacant for a number of years.

Fast forward to 2001. This huge vacant factory building just happened to be on the market. It also happened to be right across from our original Cornerstone shelter on Clifton Ave.

Chicago’s homeless situation dictated the need for more shelters. Chicago’s Department of Human Services, our primary financial supporter, agreed. And so, with their backing, we purchased this building, which became the Sylvia Center.

But why had this dramatic change occurred? It wasn’t because there was an imminent threat of war. It was because a different type of bomb had been detonated. This bomb could be labeled economic, and its fallout had led to so many commonplace men and women becoming homeless. What’s more, it seemed that nobody could place the blame on any one person or any one entity for allowing this “bomb” to go off.

I mean, a lot of folks saw it coming. And there were so many from all sectors of society who raised their voices—who pleaded for common sense answers to avoid the crisis at hand—but their desperate cries fell on deaf ears.

So that is the story of how our building came to fulfill a variety of purposes. It was a prime source of employment for a few decades. And it was a building that could be counted on to shelter a lot of folks, should a nuclear war occur.

Sylvia Center

But now it’s simply a shelter from all the “bombs” that society can’t seem to stop from exploding all across the neighborhoods of Chicago.

One thing’s for sure: if the bombs keep going off at the current rate, I think we’ll ALL have to start looking to purchase additional, old factory buildings to deal with the increasing homeless fallout.

Of course, they don’t have to be old “factory” buildings. They could even be no-frills SRO (single room only) dwellings (with supportive services included). But a solution such as this makes too much sense. And there doesn’t seem to be very much of that around these days.

I mean, a solution such as this might even largely eliminate the need for shelters, such as ours. But I just happen to know that we wouldn’t mind being forced to “close our doors” if folks really were moved into a simple room to call their own, with wrap-around services and caseworkers to assist them.

However, I’m not going to hold my breath, waiting for this type of solution to become the norm.

I mean, just because we as a society have the means and capabilities of employing solutions such as these doesn’t necessarily mean we will “do the right thing.”

 

Chris

This is an excerpt from my book Jesus in the Least. You can buy it here or here.