Sunday, November 11, 2007

Posted by Jennifer at 8:00 PM
So, this is my first blog on here, and I posted it yesterday on my myspace blog, but I have decided to branch out and start a "REAL" blog now. :) I've been feeling that I need to share this for awhile, so I decided to take a few minutes and tell you about a book I recently read.

Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski - is the BEST book, I have EVER read. And that says a lot if you know how much I read. I have never been stirred up, touched, and challenged by a book as much as I was by this book.
Basically, the premise of the book is, Mike Yankoski, a college student, feels called by God to give up all the comforts of life, to live on the streets for 5 months. He doesn't do this because he's crazy, but because he felt the need to take Christ at His word, and live out his faith in amazing way. To "be the Christian he says he is".

The Bible says in Matthew 25: 34-46 (New Living Translation)

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 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. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.'
"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? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?'
"And the King will say, 'I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!'
"Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, 'Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn't feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn't give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn't invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn't give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'
"Then they will reply, 'Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?'
"And he will answer, 'I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.'
"And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life."


I don't know about you, my friends, but I want to be in the group on the right. And reading this book, made me think about just how I treat "the least of these" - and how much more I can do to help people right here in Eugene, OR - who are homeless and suffering. They truly are the "least of these" in our society.

My favorite lyric from a song is from "Failure to Excommunicate" by Relient K. (AWESOME band if you don't know them!) The line is:

"Jesus loved the outcasts. He loves the ones the world just loves to hate."

Well, I think it's time for ME to love the ones the world loves to hate. To truly live my life for Jesus, like Jesus and by Jesus. So, instead of just walking past that person on the street, and looking down at the sidewalk to avoid getting asked for money - it's time for me to turn to them and look them in the eye, and if nothing else, say hello and give them a smile. One of the things that mentioned in this book, is that when you live on the streets, you become "invisible" and no one seems to want to even say hello.

Our church, has a fairly new homeless ministry, that Brandon and I plan on becoming involved with. One of the things they've asked our whole church to do is to keep a box of granola bars in the car. That way, when you pass someone panhandling on a corner, you can roll down your window, and pass them a granola bar. You don't have to give money, in fact in the book, Mike Yankoski encourages you to NOT give money, but you can do something small, like give a granola bar. We've been able to give out a few around town, and you wouldn't believe the smiles and thank you's we've received in return. A box of granola bars is only a couple of bucks folks, but to someone who hasn't eaten for a few days, it's a Thanksgiving feast.

Friends, I encourage each and every one of you to read Under the Overpass - it will change your life, I'm pretty sure. I know it's changed mine. You can read more about the book at: www.undertheoverpass.com I'm going to leave you with an excerpt from the book. Enjoy, and I hope you will find a copy of this book and read it, I'd love to hear what you think!

"On May 27 we stepped out of our old lives. From then until November 2, Sam and I slept out in the open or in shelters or under bridges. We ate out of trash cans and feeding kitchens. We looked disgusting, smelled disgusting, were disgusting. We were shunned and forgotten and ignored by most people who walked past us - good, acceptable people who looked just like Sam and I used to look, and maybe just like you.
Although our journey took us to many destinations that were challenging, cold, and even brutal - like the night in Golden Gate Park - by God's grace we did what we set out to do, and learned a lot along the way. For example: that faith is more than just an "amen" at the end of a sermon on Sunday mornings; that the comfort and security we strive so hard to create for ourselves doesn't even come close to the "life in the full" that Christ promises; and that God is faithful and good, even when we're not.
Perhaps you, too, have felt a nudging toward a life on the edge - someplace or task in your life where, as Frederick Buechner put it, "God's great mercy and the world's great hunger meet." If you haven't yet, is your heart open to that moment when it comes?
Either way, I invite you to take this journey with Sam and me through the everyday world of the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who make America's homeless population. We decided to go past the edge with God. One day soon, I pray you will, too. And when you do, I think you'll find what we did...
A bigger world, and more reason to care for it.
More forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption.
A greater God, and more reason to journey with Him anywhere."

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