When you were in college, would you have dropped out for a semester to experience first-hand what living homeless in American might be like? Would you have such a heart for these people that you would leave behind family, friends & money... just to get a better idea of what a homeless man/woman goes through on a daily basis?
To be perfectly honest, I wouldn't. Maybe for one night, with a huge group of my friends. But not for five months, in 6 different cities across America. Yet that's exactly what Mike & Sam did, and Mike shares their story in his book, "Under the Overpass"*. These two students carefully embarked on this endeavor, did their research, and finally one day, were dropped off in a city, with everything they would own for the coming months in their backpacks.
A line in the book that made me come to an abrupt halt was: "While kids might people who don't exist do, it's the parents who pretend that unwanted people who do exist don't." I spent almost three years living as a college student in downtown Chicago, and walked by dozens of homeless people on a weekly basis. I learned to avoid eye contact and walk fast. I didn't want to get trapped into an awkward situation, or endanger myself. But I could have learned ways to treat those homeless men and women as individuals, to show them love, to recognize them, instead of just ignoring them.
In "Under the Overpass", Mike & Sam, two traveling companions with the same heart to put real Christian faith to the test, meet hundreds of homeless people, with hundreds of stories. I realized I have been guilty of judging people on the street just by their looks/situation. I see them as a person, but oftentimes automatically think of them as person who just made all the wrong choices. I do this without even realizing that's what I'm thinking! This book was not written in a way to guilt-trip the reader, but gives the reader glimpses into dozens of various life stories. It challenges each individual reader to examine their own lives, and how they can be involved in reaching out into their community. Mike Yankoski brings his book to a close with an action plan. A practical, simple action plan that anyone can take hold of. Basic things like give food or giftcards instead of cash, to meet a true need (hunger) and not an addiction (drugs, alcohol, etc...). You can see all five suggestions in the Under the Overpass Action Plan here. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to get a glimpse of another world outside their own. If you would be interested in getting a sneak-peak at the book, you can read Chapter 1. You can purchase "Under the Overpass
" on Amazon.
So why would I choose to read this book? Because I needed a prodding to once again be reminded of life outside of my comfortable home. To be reminded that there is a lot of life outside of my town, life that is not pretty. And most of all, to be reminded that God's heart is burdened for everyone, and He greatly loves "the least of these." Am I allowing God to use me to love on people that may cross my path?
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