Overpass


I would highly recommend Mike Yankoski’s “Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America.” I was fortunate enough to be provided a copy in a special pre-release directly from Waterbrook Multnomah Books for review purposes. You can purchase a paperback copy for under $11 at Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Under-Overpass-Journey-Streets-America/dp/1590524020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294124386&sr=8-1) or directly from the publisher at http://waterbrookmultnomah.com/catalog.php?isbn=9781590524022.

G.K. Chesterton once wrote, “We do not want anger and joy to neutralize each other and produce a surely contentment. We want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent” (Yankoski, 149). Imagine being compelled to spend five months of your life on the streets as a homeless person? This is exactly what Mike Yankoski did. He then wrote many of his insights and experiences down to share with the rest of others. And yes, he does indeed answer the one million dollar question: Should you give money to the beggars? He suggests, “Probably not . . . {but I do] recommend you give something other than cash. For example, gift certificates to fast-food restaurants make a good alternative . . . having said that, I think the most meaningful gift might be your genuine attention and caring . . . when someone stopped to talk even for a minute, the powerful underlying message was, ‘I notice you, you’re a human being, and you’re worth my time” (165-166).

How many of us felt a bit of relief when the author mentioned that we should not give cash? After all, we don’t want to contribute to some one’s addiction. Or is it more that we don’t want to be fooled? Or waste “our” hard-earned money? Oh how I wish the Yankoski would have just stopped right there. But he doesn’t. Give something. Give that which is the most hardest to give – your time. Stop. Acknowledge their presence. Have a conversation. I don’t care who you are or what you have done – I don’t think there is one person on the planet that Jesus would have justifiably walked past. So why do we expect more of Christ than we do of ourselves? As if we are exempt of some forms of obedience?

May the church embody the dreams of a prophet which read, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-30, ESV). Mike Yankoski concludes, “We’re responsible to help others toward hope in Jesus’ name. But we’re not responsible for their choices” (212). He goes on to challenge us to actually do something. He leaves the reader with a few practical steps:
* Volunteer at a local rescue mission.
* Go downtown with a friend – buy a homeless person a meal and share conversation. Leave them a sweater or blanket.
* Speak up in your local church. Be an advocate for the Forgotten (214-215).

Official Book Description: Mike Yankoski did more than just wonder. By his own choice, Mike’s life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag and a guitar, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out to experience life on the streets in six different cities—from Washington D.C. to San Diego— and they put themselves to the test. For more than five months the pair experienced firsthand the extreme pains of hunger, the constant uncertainty and danger of living on the streets, exhaustion, depression, and social rejection—and all of this by their own choice. They wanted to find out if their faith was real, if they could actually be the Christians they said they were apart from the comforts they’d always known…to discover first hand what it means to be homeless in America. Mike and Sam’s story is gritty, challenging, and utterly captivating. What you encounter in these pages will radically alter how you see your world—and may even change your life. This updated and expanded edition contains added stories, an interview with the author, a “five years after” bonus chapter, and a new foreword from Francis Chan.

Overpass

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