“Life is hard, but God is good” reads the plaque  on the wall in the tiny Independence office of Dwayne Ramsey, co-owner of two Charity Thriftmart stores with his wife Peggy.

“Life is hard, but God is good” reads the plaque  on the wall in the tiny Independence office of Dwayne Ramsey, co-owner of two Charity Thriftmart stores with his wife Peggy.

“The sign is inspiration to me,” says the 57-year-old entrepreneur, “because without God, we can’t do anything.”

The verse on the plaque speaks volumes to the former insurance executive who knows firsthand how life use to be before allowing God to take control of his unfruitful life.

When the former Dallas, Texas, resident came to Kansas City in 2000,  he knew his spiritual life was amiss.

“I had gone to church and given a lot of money to the church, but something was missing in my life and I knew that,” says Dwayne, who was not able to see the  Fruits of the Spirit manifested in his carnal life.

Knowing he could not fill the spiritual void in his life, Dwayne invited the Lord into his heart,  asking Him to change his life because he couldn’t.

“So that is what I did,” he says of his life-changing transformation in 2002. “I got up the next morning totally changed. I wanted to read the Bible. I read it all day. I studied it all day and I had a hunger for knowledge that I never had before.”

His new life in Jesus Christ had such an impact on him, that he and his wife enrolled in a theological school under the umbrella of Kansas City Baptist Temple to prepare  for some type of Christian ministry.

“But I wasn’t sure what (ministry) it was going to be,” Dwayne recalls, until some two years later. That’s  when his wife, who worked for City Union Mission, asked him if he would like to help open some thrift stores for the organization.

“I didn’t know anything about thrift stores, but I started looking for a location to open one,” he says, recalling it took about eight months to find a location, negotiate a lease and open the first store.

With that labor of love accomplished, Dwayne felt God calling him into a ministry of helping charities meet the needs of the  homeless and the poor.

After two years of helping City Union Mission open another thrift store and rehabilitate an outlet, Dwayne decided to shift gears and assist reStart Inc. This interfaith ministry with homeless people is committed to providing shelter and supportive services to homeless men, women, youth and families. Its goal is helping people move toward independence and self-sufficiency and ending homelessness in the community.

“We work directly with the homeless,” Dwayne says of the two Charity Thriftmart stores he owns. One at 13920-A East U. S. 40, sandwiched between Homeland Buffet and Toys ‘R Us, and the other at 2341 S. Missouri 291, next to Family Dollar.

Both stores support reStart from community-donated merchandise  and from unsold items from both garage and estate sales.

The thrift shops accept just about anything a person in need can use, such as clothing, shoes, large and small appliances, furniture, kitchen ware, knick-knacks, books, toys and many other items.

Not every donation, though, qualifies to be displayed on the showroom floor, he  says,  adding:  “We are selective about what we put out on the floor.”

Both Thriftmarts are open to the public and operate from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The stores offer bargains to the public as well as free merchandise to people in need with rerStart vouchers.

“All of our profits go into the ministry, except for operational expenses and salaries,” Dwayne says, explaining he’s probably the “least-paid employee” because he “doesn’t need a lot” and withdraws “very little out.”

Dwayne believes his ministry to the homeless and downcast through his thrift stores is in the center of God’s will, because of the blessings God has bestowed on his fledging ministry, which prayfully began in May 2007.

“The blessings started from day one when I started this ministry,” Dwayne says, giving God the glory for providing the location and the right lease to begin his God-inspired ministry, which seemed to be in jeopardy of not getting off the ground at that time.

After about eight months of going nowhere in his efforts to find a building to launch his ministry, Dwayne prayed to his Heavenly Father asking for his intervention on his behalf.

While playing golf two days later, Dwayne received a phone call from one of the 14 landlords he had been negotiating with, asking if he still wanted to make a deal. The landlord put the lease agreement in writing and mailed it to Dwayne who accepted the terms  of the lease.

“Out of all the leases I worked on, the Noland Road site was my No. 1 choice,” Dwayne says, explaining the  store on U.S. 40 was originally located in a smaller Noland Road structure for about 2 1/2 years behind Hy-Vee before relocating at its current address.

Although approaching  retirement age, don’t look for Dwayne to retire anytime soon.

He can’t, even if he wanted to. He’s too busy carrying out God’s will for his life.

“I will probably open two more stores in Kansas City,” says the avid golfer, who plans to continue working with the poor and homeless in other places.

Dwayne says his game plan for the future is a simple one: helping charities that need help in ministries.

“Once I feel comfortable with the Kansas City area being able to support reStart, then I will probably pick another charity in another town somewhere to help,”says.

“I’ll probably be doing this until the Lord calls me home,” he predicts. “I won’t retire.”

If you’d like to make a donation and be part of Dwayne’s ministry, call the store on U.S. 40 at 816-478-0938. Your support and prayers would be greatly appreciated.