In Discovering Jesus in the Least, you’ll walk alongside veteran outreach worker, Chris Ramsey, as he uncovers the depths of God’s love not only for the “most overlooked and ignored” folks in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood . . . but also for himself.
Ramsey welcomes the reader into his world through a wide variety of short, poignant observations amassed over 25 years. What he discovers will undoubtedly challenge you to examine your own views regarding the poor and the homeless of our 21st century American society.
Chris Ramsey’s Blog
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.
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?”
“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.