Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Under the Overpass

I recently read a book called Under the Overpass, and I think everyone should read it. The book Under the Overpass is about as realistic as you can get from reading a book. Mike Yankoski is a man that faced many challenges that the majority of America will never face. The whole point of the book is not to make everyone feel guilty about not helping the poor and homeless, or to let everyone think that their calling should include living with the homeless. Mike points out the fact that he and his friend Sam, followed God’s leading in their lives, and they want the same for us. They want us to be willing to follow God even if it is difficult and makes us step outside of our comfort zones. We need to all first be in a right relationship with our heavenly father, and that can lead to us being able to see everyone as they are, living as we were meant to live, and loves people as we were meant to love. We will not be able to fully help anyone if we don’t see them through God’s eyes. If you truly want to be Christ to others, then love does require action. You can’t just give someone money avoiding speaking to them or really finding out what it is they need. It’s all about the relationships. You don’t need to develop a lifelong relationship with every homeless person, but just a simple hello or smile could make their day.

This book was very helpful in every aspect. Especially after coming back from Seattle, I was able to put the things the book said into action. I was able to observe the things and situations mentioned in the book. Mike made lots of great points, and it really made me think and question everything the church does especially when it comes to being open and helping those in need. I reflected a lot on my home church wondering if it was like some of the unwelcoming and disturbing church’s Mike talked about. I think we all learned through experience as well from the book that it is better to give a homeless person food instead of money. In the bible when it talks about if someone is hungry give them food, if they are thirsty give them a drink, it’s not a complicated lesson to learn. It’s very straight forward, and basically a command. If they are hungry, give them food. It’s that simple. It is also probably one of the easiest ways we can serve “the least of these” because they are usually right there in front of us, and we don’t have to go looking for them. If the Church isn’t going to show Christ’s love to the world, then who is? One thing that really challenged me was the fact that lots of times we tell people that we will pray that their needs may be supplied than to supply them. For us it is so much easier just to spout off, “we will pray for you or your needs”, and we ignore or run away from the responsibility of doing it ourselves. You could look at it in another way; it is a privilege to supply someone with whatever it is they need, and to be Christ to them. We are a Church that has become more passive instead of active when it comes to love and caring for others. One part of the book that really hit me was where Mike mentions the church that had the sign out front that said, “No Trespassing, Church Business Only.” He mentioned that the church had chains and a padlock on the doors. It really is very unattractive when a church seems totally separated from the world. I do believe that the world is the Church’s business, and that the Church does not need to shut them out. It is a really depressing observation, when you notice that the liquor, wine, cigarette, and pornography stores are the only things open twenty four hours a day. No wonder people tend to go there more often, because its doors are always open unlike the church.

One thought provoking question came to me when Mike mentioned his definition of a Christian. He had met a man who admitted to being addicted to drugs, but he openly and sincerely acknowledged Christ as his Lord and Savior and asking how he could serve them. Is our definition of a Christian general enough to include prostitutes, addicts, and other such people? I’m still struggling with this concept. Do we kick prostitutes who are self sacrificing, loving, and giving out of the church? Do we pursue and accept those people who are clean, gossiping, self absorbed, church goers? This is a very pressing matter within the church. It does make you really think about who we are reaching and ministering too. I feel as if I have made that transformation from timidity and caution to comfort and confidence when it comes to helping the poor and homeless.

1 comment:

etc said...

hey. i hate to admit that I didnt read this post...But it looked long and I just wanted to write you a quick response to your comment...

yes. lets do it.