Sunday, October 14, 2007

Book Review: Under the Overpass

ATTENTION: We interrupt the normal drivel found on this blog to recommend a great book, Under The Overpass.

"What if I stepped out of my comfortable life with nothing but God and put my faith to the test alongside of those who live with nothing every day?"

With that question on his heart, Mike Yankowski set out with his friend Sam to find the answers. It was a journey that would take him into the heart of six major cities over a five-month period, and one he undertook with nothing more than the clothes on his back, his Bible and journal, a guitar and a sleeping bag. Along the way, they lived alongside the homeless of each city, playing their guitars and panhandling to earn enough money for their next meal as well as bus transportation from city to city. Their eyes were opened to how those who "have" view those who "have not." They learned firsthand what it means to pray "give us this day our daily bread." They experienced both the generosity of some Christ-followers, as well as painful rejection by some churches and those who called themselves Christians.

Without putting his readers on a guilt trip, and free from any hint of self-righteousness, Mike recounts his experience in an engaging yet thought-provoking manner. He willingly acknowledges the part personal choice plays in the lives of those he encounters. He humbly admits that he struggled with the need for discernment on a daily basis: do you give to someone panhandling? And what can you give? After he returns to his former life - that of a well-provided-for college student, he reflects on the dangers of lacking nothing.

In the end, graciously and without preaching or moralizing, Mike simply encourages his readers to open their eyes and hearts to the love of God and how he would have us live it out. "As over-spiritualized as it might sound, I really do think that caring for the needy begins with loving God more completely. It's in knowing and responding to His amazing love for us that we begin to set our priorities straight."

I didn't realize until I was partway through it that it's actually considered teen reading (I order my library books online) - it's that easy of a read. I highly recommend this book, but fair warning: you'll probably be thinking about it for days afterward.