My friend Brian is an avid reader and recommended to me a book called Under the Overpass - A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America by Mike Yankoski. This book is the true story of two Christians who gave up their normal existence to live as street people. For five months and six cities, they learned about the people who live out there. The book challenges the reader to learn about true faith and to identify with the unique people who struggle to live with a spectrum of issues that have brought them to the street. They find "more forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than they ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption."
It took me just a few days to finish this book, but not because it was light-weight fare. It was often very convicting and thought provoking and clarifying and deep. It was just a read that I did not want to put down. One of the most disturbing elements of their journey was how many churches treated the homeless like flotsam. The mindsets of so many were to pretend these people did not exist, or to call the authorites to come and pick up the trash if they appeared. It also made clear how many folks were volunteering to help out the poor only to feel better about themselves.
However, the most inspiring aspects of the book were those stories about folks who truly appreciated the street people and acted as their humble servants, treating them with dignity, respect, and brotherhood. Whether they gave gifts of food, of money, of time, of smiles, of words, or embrace, they reached out and gave of themselves. They lived out their faith and understood:
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me., Matthew 25:40.
(Part 2 of 3)