Friday, December 17, 2010
Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski
We often hear the phrase, "Put yourself in my shoes," when someone is encouraging us to see a situation from another perspective. If we are introspective, we may readily try to envision what it would be like to have the life experiences of someone that we meet. Besides reality-based television shows, like Undercover Boss, very few individuals have the ability or the courage to put that question into action. Especially in a society that emphasizes wealth, glamour, and gaining fifteen minutes of fame, who would want to put themselves in another's shoes by living homeless?
Mike Yankoski and his friend Sam are two individuals who make such a decision. In 2003, Mike is a twenty-year-old upper-middle class college student who feels the call to live on the streets after hearing a sermon one Sunday with the strong message to, "Be the Christian you say you are." Mike decides to test his faith by taking time off from college and immersing himself into the life of the homeless in America. He wants to observe how churches respond to the needs of the homeless and how he will personally be affected as he relies on God throughout his five-month journey.
Beginning in the Denver Rescue Mission, Mike has the comfort of a cot and a three meals a day, but he begins to learn the social rules of the homeless. Soon, Mike and Sam are immersed into life on the streets as they travel to Washington D.C. , Portland, San Francisco, Phoenix, and San Diego. With only a Bible, guitar, sleeping bag, journal, and backpack, they panhandle and rely on the kindess of strangers for their next meal. They experience the humiliation of digging through the garbage for food and being treated as the outcasts of society.
Under the Overpass is a thought-provoking read that encouraged me to continue turning the pages. I thought of my experiences when seeing homeless men and women in the city and the feelings of pity that arise and how I wonder what events may have brought them to such a point in their life. I am also guilty of looking the other way because of fear and discomfort. Under the Overpass challenges us to react differently because if you and I were stripped of all of our comforts we would be the same people. As Mike and Sam experienced, even churches can forget their ultimate mission. I highly recommend Under the Overpass as a compelling book that will invite reflection, the opportunity for discussion, and the desire to take action.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from WaterBrook Press through their book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed above are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”