Saturday, March 12, 2011

Book Review: Under The Overpass

Recently, I signed up with a program called Blogging For Books.  The program is sponsored by WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing.  When you sign up, you choose a book that you agree to read and blog about, and also post a review on a retail site.

When I signed up, I wondered if there would be any books that I could choose that would be relevant to this blog.  I was pretty excited when I found one called "Under The Overpass:  A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America."  Two Bible College students set out on a mission to experience homelessness for several months in several different cities across America.    This sounded like a very interesting read to me, so I chose this book, and it arrived very quickly at my doorstep, free of charge for me to read and review.

You may be wondering what this has to do with this blog.  This blog is about saving money, and a huge part of how I save money is by using coupons.  I have been pleasantly surprised by all of the freebies I have been able to come across since I began couponing, and I know that many times couponers are able to get more free items than they are able to use.  I am always sharing my overflow with friends and family who have fallen on hard times, but there are plenty people out there that are even less fortunate than those that I know personally.  I honestly thought that this book was simply going to make me feel more like I should try to get more freebies so that I could help out by donating them to shelters and encourage others to do the same.  This is still my plan, however, this book spoke to me much more than that.

As I read through this book the first thing that hit me was the amount of faith that these two guys had in God to provide for them, and He always did.  I'm not sure I could set out for unknown places with only a backpack and guitar even if I felt I was being called to do so.  That's a pretty scary thing to do.  The second thing that hit me was how good I really do have things.  I may be on a tight budget, but I've never had to worry about where my next meal was coming from or when I would be able to shower or where I was going to sleep.  I've never been rich (probably never will), but I've never lacked anything I have truly needed either.

Parts of the book did make me very sad, though.  They were not the parts about how hard life on the streets can be, though.  It was the parts where they had interactions with people from normal society, people who were able to help them out if they chose to.  Being Christians, they would often find themselves drawn to churches.  They rightly thought that if anyone should be willing to lend them a hand, it should be the people of America's Christian Churches.  For the most part, they were hugely let down.  This is what got to me the most out of the whole book.  City after city, there was story after story of them being shunned by people in the Churches.  They journaled the whole time they were on this journey, and I do not think they ever dreamed that so many pages of their journals would be filled with rejection from people that just months before would have welcomed them as brothers.  They once slept on a church's doorstep expecting to be woken by the congregation entering the next morning.  Instead, they awoke to hymns being sung from inside and discovered that every single churchgoer had walked around to the side entrance instead of going near them.  It's sad what a little dirt and bad body odor can accomplish.  At one point they actually said that they had better luck panhandling in front of a liquor store because the drunks were more generous.  I think that this is appalling.

Certainly it was not always this way.  Sometimes they met with individuals who took it upon themselves to occasionally bring pizzas into areas where the homeless congregated.  It also seemed like in each city they met one church group who welcomed them and helped them and accepted them.  It is sad that they were so few and far between, though.  They once even returned to a church on Sunday morning after being run off from the same church on Saturday.  The man who had expelled them from the grounds came up to them, thanked them for returning, apologized profusely, and admitted to getting in his car and trying to find them after he had sent them away.  He also admitted to being the head of the church's homeless outreach program.  If the people who run these ministries still have a first instinct to turn these people away, how will the rest of the church react to them?

These two guys will forever have an altered view of people living on the streets and hold a special place in their hearts for them.  I hope that from now on, I will remember this book whenever I come across people who are in need.

If anyone is interested in reading the first chapter of this book, you can find it here.  I think it is a great read for anyone.  Although it is strongly geared towards those of the Christian faith, you need only be human to be touched by this book.


Cheryl March 14, 2011 at 7:16 PM  

Such a neat idea for a ministry and the blogging for Books. Do you know what Bible college they were from? We attended Moody & my daughters graduated with bachelors from there thru correspondent courses.

I also wanted to let you know the link in the side bar for this program is not working. I had actually tried to click on it to check out before I saw this article. :-).

Amanda March 14, 2011 at 9:20 PM  

it says the main author went to Westmont in Santa Barbara, and his travelling companion went to Multnomah in Portland.

My husband was actually a student at Dallas Theological seminary for a few semesters but could not afford to continue after our first child was born. I think he still has hopes of returning one day, but since he began teaching he really feels like he is ministering to his students. He was studying cross-cultural ministries with hopes of doing missions work in central america, but here in Garland TX nearly all of his students are Hispanic so its almost as if he is there He's loving it!

Thanks for letting me know about that link. Try it out now, I think I fixed it.

Cheryl March 17, 2011 at 6:42 AM  

It is fixed, Amanda. We had dreams of Dallas Theological Seminary, too, then we had an accident and I was injured and we have never gone into ministry--though we tried several times. But like your husband has found out, ministry is where we are.

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