Genre – Christian life, personal experience
Author – Mike Yankoski
Length – 235 Pages
Should You Read It Scale – 7, it is a fast, easy read and contains some great lessons Americans and the church need to learn and practice.
Overview – While in college the author, Mike Yankoski, got the idea to try living the homeless lifestyle for a period of time. He wanted to experience the what a typical homeless person experiences and flush out his own faith and dependence on God for every need when the comforts of life were stripped away. He sought counsel, started volunteering with homeless and found a partner to travel with him.
Mike and Sam spent over five months in six different cities. In each they lived completely homeless, with just a backpack and guitar for supplies. They used the guitars to panhandle for money to buy food and bus tickets to the next city.
Writing Style – The author writes in a simple, easy to read manner and tells about their experiences in a chronological story.
What I Learned – The biggest lesson is my attitude towards and perception of homeless people. I, unfortunately, have always fallen into the “uncomfortable” category when encountering the homeless. I have a handful of experiences working at homeless shelters but always with a missions group and within the context that I’ll be going home in a few hours. This book has encouraged me to, at the very least, acknowledge the homeless when I intersect with them – say hi and notice them as a human being.
My first ongoing struggle related to the homeless is that many choose to live that way even though there are opportunities to pull their lives together and get off the street. This book confirmed that there are those people, but as a whole, homeless people are not choosing to be in their situation. The majority of homeless are mentally ill, struggle with major addictions and other issues that are huge even if you live a “normal” American life.
My second struggle has always been that if I give them money I may be merely supporting their addictions and not actually helping take care of their basic needs. There is no way to know for sure, but the author strongly suggested offering to actually purchase them a meal or items they need instead of passing out cash. And maybe more importantly, take the time to talk to them for a few minutes.
Relevance to Today – I think the topic is highly relevant to today’s American society. Most of us live so our lives don’t come in contact with the homeless…but maybe that’s not wholly appropriate. We should be challenged to spend time reaching out to the homeless in our own towns. Multnomah Books has developed a practical action plan in response to the book.
How I Happened Upon It – This book is part of the Multnomah Books Blogging for Books program. I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this (honest) review. Read the first chapter.