General

10 Feb 2020

MY ASIAN FRIENDS

By |2020-02-12T06:14:25-06:00February 10th, 2020|General|0 Comments

THEY KNOW WHO’S BOSS… AND SO DO I!

I was running around checking on preparations for our Saturday afternoon meal and pantry when I felt led to slow down for a moment and talk to the four women who had arrived two and half hours before our starting time.

“Hello, ladies, I just thought I’d stop by a minute, to see how you were all doing?”  I said.

They just smiled at me, and giggled among themselves.

“How are you all doing today?”

Again, they just smiled.

“I guess we’re finally getting a little snow and colder weather,“ I said.  “Hey, where are you ladies all from, anyway?”

They each looked at each other, at me and then each told me which country they had originally come from.  Two were from China, one from Thailand, and one from Vietnam.

None of them could speak or understand much English.  But they seemed intrigued that I would stop for a few minutes to “attempt” to communicate with them.

“God bring me to Cornerstone,” one told me. “And you’re the bossy?”  she said with a smile.

“Yeah, I guess I’m the bossy,”  I replied.  “You folks are very nice people.”

“Thank you,” they said, one with English and the others with a nod.

I continued my futile attempts at further communication.  But I wasn’t getting very far, so I returned to their previous observation.  “ Yeah, I guess, you can say, “I’m the bossy”.

They all just couldn’t help but giggle and smile back at me.  Then one said, “You, very good.”

And then I found myself merely responding with a smile and some laughter.

And I couldn’t help but feel loved and appreciated, even though there weren’t too many words understood between each of us.

These four older women from far away countries, had come to Chicago, many years ago, and though they still hadn’t learned much English, they could still communicate their love and thankfulness to all of us at Cornerstone.

I’m just glad that I was listening to my “bossy,”  so I could receive this blessing.

 

Thanks for stopping by. Chris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28 Jan 2020

THE MAN WHO INSPIRED THE MOVIE “RADIO” HAS DIED. 

By |2020-01-29T19:42:23-06:00January 28th, 2020|General|0 Comments

THE MAN WHO INSPIRED THE MOVIE “RADIO” HAS DIED.

Radio James Kennedy; Chicago-SunTimes, Dec. 16, 2019

BUT HIS SPIRIT LIVES ON AMONG THOSE WITH EYES TO SEE AND EARS TO HEAR!

This past December 2019, a man named James Kennedy, who had developmental disabilities, and became famous around his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina passed away at the age of 73.

What was he “famous” for?  For being such a faithful supporter, helper, and servant to the T.L. Hanna High School football team throughout the 1960s.   But his presence was felt long after those years, and his life’s story was portrayed in the 2003 movie “Radio,” starring Cuba Gooding Jr. in the title role.

And this brings me to my own reflections on watching this movie a number of years back with my own—“Radio”—my good friend Stewart Brown.

The following is reprint of a section in my book, Discovering Jesus in the Least, entitled “Radio-Head of the Class.”

Radio-Head of the Class

I was watching the movie Radio, which stars Cuba Gooding Jr. and
Ed Harris. Ed Harris plays the role of a small-town high school football
coach. Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a mentally challenged young black man who
wanders the streets pushing his shopping cart and listening to his radio.
The coach starts to notice “Radio” staring through the fence as he
watches the town’s high school football team practice. The coach feels sorry
for Radio, and invites him onto the field to watch their workouts. And before
you know it, he’s giving him little tasks that assist the team during practice—
chores that make Radio feel needed and wanted.
It’s not long before Radio and the coach are good friends. He ends up not
only having a huge impact on the coach, but on all the players and students
as well.
However, some of the townspeople think it would better if Radio
did not hang around the coach so much. And before we know it, verbal
confrontations emerge between the townspeople and the coach, which only
serve to expose much of society’s attitudes towards the mentally-challenged.
Ed Harris says at the end of the movie that it’s not so much that we
taught Radio, but that Radio taught us.
“If we all treated each other half as good as Radio treats us, we’d all be
a lot better off,” says Harris.

I watched this movie with my own “Radio”—my good friend Stewart—
who is also mentally-challenged. He said he’d seen it already, and that he’d
really enjoyed it.
Still, I felt uneasy at times, thinking that he would be embarrassed at
picking up on the similarities between himself and Radio. And I believe this
did happen for a few brief moments.
But then I would ask him, “Stewart, is this movie okay with you?”
“Yeah, good movie, good movie,” he would exclaim, staring at the screen,
completely wrapped up in Radio’s struggle to relate to each person he came
in contact with. I was hoping and trusting that he was truly okay.
I felt better as the movie went on. I saw that Stewart was merely rooting
for Radio to be accepted and liked for who he was. It was like he could
understand Radio’s struggles like no one else.
Why that was so surprising to me, I don’t know. I guess my faith in
his instincts was wavering. Or I felt that a person like Stewart might easily
become depressed or angry at seeing how a person like Radio was treated
by some people.
I’m so glad my initial instincts were right. Stewart could see how the
Ed Harris character reached out to Radio, and not only accepted him, but
truly liked him.
Of course, this had already happened in our relationship. And all I can
attribute our improbable bond to is God’s incredible grace in my life and
Stewart’s “heart of gold.”

 

Stewart Brown

And I’d say that we’ve all got so much to learn from folks like “Radio” and “Stewart.”

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Chris.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.