Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Book Review: Under the Overpass

Under the Overpass - A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America
5th Anniversary - Updated & Expanded Edition
by Mike Yankoski

About this book:
Ever Wonder What it Would Be Like to Live Homeless?

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
Have I ever wondered what it would be like to live homeless in America?  Not really, and I've certainly never had a desire to try it like Mike and his friend Sam.  Their experience gives real insight into the everyday lives of homeless people in several cities in America.  The stories are well-told, and you'll find yourself caring about the people they meet along the way.  This book gives a unique perspective of what it's like to be homeless and will help you see homeless people as just that - people.  I think that's the first step. 

Like Mike repeated several times, their experience was a limited one, while some people have been living on the streets for years. Still, they experienced what it means to be cold and hungry and dirty, and to be ignored by most of society.  The hardest part was seeing how church groups and Christians were just as bad about ignoring them and reaching out to help.  We've read the scripture:
NLT Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.' 37 "Then these righteous ones will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison, and visit you?' 40 And the King will tell them, 'I assure you, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
Putting it into practice is a whole different thing.  This book is a challenge and a wake-up call - a reminder that we are supposed to be reaching out and helping those who need that help.  We have people among us who need our help.  What are we doing about it?  It's hard to read this book without being very thankful for everything you have and wondering how you can be more sensitive to the needs of those who don't have anything.

Under the Overpass is available from Waterbrook Multnomah.  Read the first chapter here.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group as part of their Blogging for Books program