General

9 Feb 2018

Willy and Ulysses hanging out!

By | 2018-02-09T08:10:52+00:00 February 9th, 2018|General|0 Comments

On the downtown streets of Chicago!

I was downtown when I ran into a couple of gentleman hanging out on a cold winter’s afternoon. Each was hoping to receive some assistance from any of those who were passing by. Willy told me that he usually stays on the EL trains at night. And then he’s out on the street corners during the day-time hours. But when it he gets too cold he retreats to Chicago’s Pedway, which is an underground walkway filled with stores and warmth.

Willy also shared with me that he gets to know a lot of the same folks that pass him throughout their busy days. And some will give more than a bit of change. Some will bring him some food and drink, and some will even buy him some new clothes and shoes…. when they get his sizes.

Willy says he believes in the Lord Jesus, and he thanks Him each morning when he wakes up!

Whereas, Ulysses, proudly proclaims that he’s vet. He says he stays in different “spots” each night. Then I ask him, “If you were given a room right now, would you take it?”

“Yes, I would,” he said.

“Are you working with a caseworker to get housing?” I ask.

“Oh yeah, ” he says. “I’ve been on a waiting list for the past 2 1/2 years.”

Ulysses comes off so genuine, so humble. And then I notice a Bible laying at the foot off his seat.

Maybe guys like Willy and Ulysses are out there to teach us all something. The only question is, “Are we willing to be taught… and are we willing to share a bit of ourselves?”

Pray for them and the many more “out on the cold, hard streets” of Chicago.

Thanks Chris.

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3 Feb 2018

More of my friends!

By | 2018-02-03T21:27:45+00:00 February 3rd, 2018|General|0 Comments

From around the world!

Here’s three of my food pantry and soup kitchen friends

Thu Nguyen came to Chicago about 10 years ago with her family of seven from Saigon, Vietnam. She tells me that she is so thankful for the food pantry. And she says that there is nothing like this back in Saigon. She says her family had to “work hard” just to make it back home.

And there’s Hava Botonjic from Bosnia. She is a beautiful, elderly lady who always comes about 2 hours before we start the food pantry and our soup kitchen. She doesn’t speak hardly any English, but one gets the idea that she’s a no-nonsense woman who won’t be deterred from getting what she feels she needs.

And then there’s Louis Ferndec who came to Chicago about 40 years ago from Cuba. He tells me has no family in Chicago, and that he’s presently staying at a homeless shelter on the Southside. But he likes to come back to Uptown because he likes the neighborhood. He tells me he’s working with a caseworker trying to get “housing.”

I then ask Louis if he ever gets mad that more people aren’t helping him to get off the streets. “No, you can’t get mad,” he says. “It’s never good to get mad.”

Then I asked him if he ever feels like anyone owes him anything? “No, I don’t feel like anyone owes me anything,” he says.

Three persons from all different parts of the world. And Thu and Louis tell me that they attend “Pastor Kim’s” church for time to time. And they tell me they both believe in Jesus. And they do so with a quiet conviction which rings true.

And I’m so blessed to know them. For I see a lot of “Jesus” in them.

Chris.

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29 Jan 2018

Tiny Houses or Big Lofts?

By | 2018-01-29T09:27:16+00:00 January 29th, 2018|General|0 Comments

What can we afford?

Just a couple of days ago I attended the a brand new organization’s fundraiser. It’s called Chicago Tiny House Inc.—a new non-profit, whose mission “is to create tiny house communities throughout Chicago that will provide homeless Chicagoans with safe and cost-effective housing and integrated support services.” It was a beautiful, fun-filled, information packed event that brought about 100 folks together around this “homeless” problem that we, in the inner cities across America, face each and every day. We learned that these folks will be learning from the models for “tiny houses” for the homeless in cities such as New York City, Detroit, and Denver. And we learned from guest speaker, Alan Mills, a long-time homeless advocate from Uptown, that there are about 100,000 folks in Chicago that have no place call their own. Who are these folks? They are the persons that are sleeping in the shelters, in the tents, under the bridges, or they are sleeping on various couches or floors of friends and family (for as long they as can…most are constantly on the move).

Uptown, like so many neighborhoods across the country, have lost so much “affordable” and even extremely low-income rooms that could at least put a roof over someone’s head. So many low-income buildings have been sold to private developers who have turned so many structures into high-priced condos, or lofts, or high-rent apartments. Mills pointed out that we must not “lay-down” and let this happen. He said we must continue to advocate for the homeless and that getting behind this “Tiny House” movement is definitely a welcome addition to fight and the right to be “housed.”

Not surprisingly, I would agree wholeheartedly.

The next day I was walking to the store when I passed the old Stewart School building—a former elementary school building in Uptown. It had been closed down for a few years with “some” debate over what should the building should be use for. During last summer, the school’s “front yard” was filled with tents of “real people”… until they were evicted from the property. And now, we see the reason. The former Stewart school is being transformed into “Stewart School” lofts. And they might even available later this year.

I guess it’s not too hard to see where our priorities are.

Where are all these folks who’ve called “Uptown” home for so long going to go? Somehow, I don’t think they’ll be checking out the lofts at Stewart school.

Pray for more “housing” —any kind of housing. Pray for this Tiny House Movement. Pray for the souls left out on the street. Pray for our hearts to be moved —and continue to be moved—to do all that we can to help these folks. Why? Because like the billboard says, “Being homeless, it’s worse than you think.”

Thanks, Chris.

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22 Jan 2018

Northwestern Students Come to Volunteer

By | 2018-01-22T21:24:53+00:00 January 22nd, 2018|General|0 Comments

“I’m sure that’s you on the cover!”

A small group of Northwestern students came to volunteer at CCO this past Saturday, Jan. 20. They were a lively and friendly group, and they really had a good time. Derrick, one of our new cooks, was having a good time directing and conversing with them when the topic of my book came up.

“Now, here’s Chris, he wrote a book, you know,” said Derrick. “And he said it was really hard for him to be homeless for a couple of days. But can you imagine what it’s like to be homeless for a year or more?”

“Yeah, that is true, ” I chimed in. “I really couldn’t handle much.” Then I retreated to my office to get a few of my flyers that have the cover of the book on the front and info of what it’s about on the back.

Then I went back into the kitchen and passed my flyers out to the students. “Now this a lot more like what I’d expect from folks who call themselves Christians,” said one student. “You know, not like all those Christians that we hear about in today’s news.”

“Oh well, thanks, ” I replied. “I hope so.”

Then the students comments turned to the picture on the cover. “And that’s you, right?” one student casually remarked.

“No, that’s not me, ” I calmly replied. “That’s a stock photo.”

“No, really, that’s you,” the student continued. “You’re playing a trick on us.”

Now this is not the first that I’ve heard that particular comment before. In fact, there’s been more than a few folks who have made the same comment. So I wasn’t overly surprised.

And of course, I do have to admit there’s a striking “possible” resemblance between my picture —if I had long hair and a beard–and this gentleman in this “stock photo.” And to be sure this man truly does exemplify the typical homeless, white man. It’s possible that this photo could be mistaken for me —with long hair and a beard.

And there’s nothing wrong with that. I mean, why should I care if someone really thought that was me on the cover? I mean, this man really does symbolize “the least,” the very folks that I’ve written about these years. And I don’t mind being associated with them at all. In fact, I find it an honor… in a strange sort of way. For this man, whoever he is, I’m sure has a lot to teach me…if I’d only be open to listen.

Thanks, Chris.

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