‘God, give me more time!’
Inson Reasoner Chong’s life could easily be a segment on CBS TV’s “60 Minutes.”
Born in South Korea into a Christian family, she married a U.S. soldier who was a distant cousin of Harry Reasoner, the famous “60 Minutes” broadcaster.
However, Chong’s life in the United States was one of hard work, betrayal, and heartbreak—until one day, she found herself in a Salvation Army shelter in East Stroudsburg, Pa.
Chong, a quiet and unassuming 67–year–old, made the most of her time in the shelter by encouraging others.
“When I help people, I feel better,” she said.
One of the residents Chong met in the women’s shelter often cried, drawing Chong’s sympathy. People who know Chong say that’s part of her character.
A gentle soul
“I wanted to pray for her and give her a hug to make her happy,” Chong said. “I don’t know her or what she needs, but God does.”
Cari Friend, the executive secretary at the East Stroudsburg Corps, called Chong “very compassionate.”
“Inson doesn’t care what you’ve done or where you’ve been. She feels like everyone deserves help and a chance,” Friend said. “That’s been a great lesson for me to learn.
“If you’re lying in the street drunk, she will stop and pray for you or help you.”
For example, a man who lived in his van refused to go to the corps shelter. As a diabetic, his restrictive diet prevented him from eating in the Salvation Army soup kitchen.
Chong gave the man some money. She also walked with him to a nearby grocery store to buy him food he could eat.
During another trip to the store, a young woman asked Chong for a dollar to buy something to eat. The woman touched Chong’s heart because she reminded her of her daughter, Rachel, but she could tell from the woman’s eyes that she was “high.”
“Young lady, you can’t buy anything to eat for a dollar,” Chong said.
Suspecting the woman would buy drugs or alcohol with the money, Chong took her into the store and bought a complete meal.
Chong’s compassion comes from the lessons she learned from her mother and from the hungry people in Seoul.
A Christian home
“My mother volunteered all the time,” Chong says. “She taught me that, if you are spiritual and a Christian, you have to do for others, no matter what.”
Chong never knew her father, but her mother instilled in her Christian values. Inson accepted Christ at age 17 while attending high school. She remembers sitting on a rock in the mountains during a Bible study.
Then a dance instructor, Chong met David Reasoner, a U.S. soldier, while dancing in a social club. He pursued her during 1974 and 1975.
The couple married in 1976. After coming to the United States separately in 1977, they settled in Kansas.
David had convinced Chong he was a Christian and a family man. But his alcohol and drug use eventually marred their marriage. Nonetheless, Chong stayed in the relationship.
“I think I was good wife,” she said.
Chong worked two and sometimes three jobs—even while pregnant with Rachel—to support the family when her husband had trouble holding a job because of his drinking.
Chong left Kansas for California. She also lived in Virginia, New York City, and New Jersey. Five years ago, she moved to East Stroudsburg, Pa., before her husband died of cancer.
Finding a home
“She’s had a rough life,” says Friend. “She’s always told me that it was Jesus who got her through. At night when she prayed, He was always there.”
Chong initially lived with Rachel in Pennsylvania, but a chaotic atmosphere forced Chong to seek housing elsewhere.
When she came to the East Stroudsburg Corps for help, she saw a picture of Jesus on the wall. It let her know that she was in a church and a place of refuge. Even today, Chong admires the picture.
“Every time she sees it, she says, ‘That’s Jesus. That’s my man.’” Friend said.
Chong lived in the women’s shelter for four months. The residents called her “Momma” because of her tendency to be compassionate and nurturing.
A listening ear
“She would pull out her Bible and say to women who are homeless and often coming out of battered lives, ‘Come pray with me; come read the Bible with me,’” Friend said.
“Inson was able to minister to these women in such a loving and compassionate and Bible–based way. This is a woman who believes in the Bible. She lives by the Bible.”
A year ago, Chong found permanent housing at a nearby apartment complex. She reaches out to her neighbors with a small Bible study.
Chong walks almost 5 miles to the corps on Sunday mornings and on Tuesdays for Bible study and women’s ministry.
“If she lived closer, she’d be here all the time,” Friend said. “She loves the corps.
“She tells me all the time that she is the richest person in the world because she has peace and quiet for the first time in 50 years.”
More work ahead
A licensed massage therapist, Chong continues to look for ways to help. She hopes to cut hair and offer manicures, pedicures, and facials for the corps seniors.
She is also looking forward to standing kettles again. Last year, Chong rang the bell 12 hours a day, six days a week.
“Bell ringing is not hard work,” she said. “I see so much happiness. Even a little child puts a penny in the kettle. Why should I not?”
Chong said Christ is behind her compassionate spirit.
“He makes me love,” she says. “I’m not like Him, but I try for the rest of my life. Someday I want to sit next to Jesus in heaven.”
Until then, she has work to do.
“I pray ‘God, give me more time,’” she said.
by Robert Mitchell