Friday, November 12, 2010

Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski

Under the Overpass: A Journey of  Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski chronicles Mike and his friend Sam's five month experiment living as homeless men in six selected cities across the nation- without cell phones, credit cards or even a change of clothes.  Motivated  by  the need to live out the gospel and learn to truly depend on God, the author Mike explains that "The hypocrisy in my life troubled me" (page 5) of his comfortable upper middle-class lifestyle and comforts.  All the while, Mike, the author recognised that this indeed was an experiment in which he and his partner were actually "travelers" and not real homeless men, because at any time, they would have the option  of leaving the streets- an option that the true homeless did not have. (page 11).  They began their journey with the noble expectation to find: "more forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption".  In the end they learned about empathy and the responsability to help others in their physical and spiritual needs- toward faith in Jesus with the recognition that we are not responsible for their individual choices after we have helped. In fact Mike pointed out the error of so many preachers when focusing on hell and punishment rather than on God's love and mercy when reaching out to the homeless.

As derogatory as it sounds, it didn't take long- to look the part- as described by Mike in his own words on page 12, "we looked disgusting, smelled disguisting, were disgusting". They slept on hard concrete sidewalks, and humbled themselves in order to beg for change to pay for dinner.  In the end, Mike lost 25 lbs, and had matted hair and a scraggly beard.  Nevertheless the two guys found time to find the humor in life, and to appreciate the kindness of others and the undeserved grace of God. The two friends traded a lifestyle of excess for a lifestyle of need in order to grow closer to God and to grow in dependance in God.  Their courage and motivation to go beyond their comfort zone and internalize the gospel message- to test their faith should serve as an inspiration to all those Christians out there who read the word of God but do not neccessarily live the word of God. As a blogger for Multnoma publishers I recieved a copy of this book for the purpose of writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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