To begin with let me just say this book was powerful, it was one that reached down deep inside of my heart and grabbed hold of it from the first page. If you want to understand homelessness from a different perspective read this book. As a believer, someone who works with the mentally ill and homeless and live in one of the cities written about in this book, I connected in more ways than expected.
Living in America, most of us, myself included take for granted how well off we are. Most of us never worry where our next meal will come from, when we can take a shower or what articles of clothing we will wear today. We know we will sleep safe and sound in our own bed tonight. Day to-day we go through life passing strangers, mentally ill and homeless individuals, never giving them a second thought. We see them standing on the corners with their signs, or even coming up to us and asking us for spare change. Many times I have seen and witnessed people not wanting to be bothered by folks and brush them off. Yet they are human beings, created in the image of Christ and this is our response to them?
In our lives we have so little need for God, we take him for granted and only come running back to him when our lives are falling apart. What happens when you don’t have any of this any longer? Mike Yankoski heard God speak to him during a church service as he meditated on Philippians 4:11-12 “I have learned what it means to be content in all circumstances, whether with everything or with nothing.” Mike’s thoughts were “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.”
After praying, planning, wise counsel and a friend to join along in this journey they set out to really experience life in a very different way. Their trip took them to Denver, Washington, D.C., Portland, San Fransisco, Phoenix and San Diego. Mike and his friend Sam set out on a 5 month journey carrying a pair of boxer shorts, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and a sweatshirt. Sleeping bag, books, journals and a couple of guitars to aid in panhandling – the bare essentials for this life altering journey.
The journey began May 27th, 2003 and came to it’s conclusion November 2, 2003. The stories they share of their experiences surviving in each city is eye-opening. How those living off the streets keep up what little dignity they have, survive and yes even live out their own faith in Jesus. The folks they meet and the stories they shard about their lives which led to them being on the streets is what got me the most. How members of churches responded to them and their response back to them. They met and experienced Jesus in different ways and in doing so it challenged them as to how they would live upon returning to normal, if there is such a thing after what they went through.
In reading this book it reminded me of the movie “Into The Wild”. There is something extremely appealing about casting off the world, (cell phones, cars, luxuries we take for granted daily) and really truly devoting ourselves to dependence on God. It’s refreshing to me to see men like these two who weren’t afraid to go out and do it.
As I finished out this book moved to tears. I was reminded of the passage in Deuteronomy 15:11 “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” It is true, more so today than I have ever seen or experienced in my life. It is now estimated there are close to 2 million homeless people living here in America. That number is shocking.
It made me realize as someone who has been given much, I need to find ways to merge taking care of the poor into my family. What can we do out of our wealth to help others. I am once again challenged not to ignore them to but really see the person, to do more than just pass them by. This book is one I strongly urge you to read. In reading the stories presented in this book it should change and shape your future and how you look at homelessness. The end of the book provides you with some simple ways you can also do your part.
FTC Disclaimer – “I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review”
You can order a copy from Amazon for as cheap as $4.31 – just click on the link below