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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational story about finding your vision in life
At age nine, Austin Gutwein watched a 4 minute video about the AIDS orphans in Africa. In an instant, his life was changed and a long journey began. After watching the video, Austin felt the Lord stirring in him a desire to do something to help these orphans. He didn't know what, but he knew that he wanted to listen to the Lord's leading.

Take Your Best Shot...
Published on November 6, 2009 by Marine Corps Nomad

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Too Much Purpose Driven Preaching From The Ghostwriter
First, I just want to say that Austin is a great kid, and his compassion for the children of AIDS victims in Africa is amazing and inspiring. I certainly didn't help people like that when I was a kid (unless you count collecting money door to door for the Muscular Dystrophy Association). I love Austin's heart for people. He shot 2070 free throws and raised money to build...
Published on June 12, 2010 by Dr. Marc Axelrod


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspirational story about finding your vision in life, November 6, 2009
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
At age nine, Austin Gutwein watched a 4 minute video about the AIDS orphans in Africa. In an instant, his life was changed and a long journey began. After watching the video, Austin felt the Lord stirring in him a desire to do something to help these orphans. He didn't know what, but he knew that he wanted to listen to the Lord's leading.

Take Your Best Shot follows Austin's journey to help the AIDS orphans. But, the book isn't just about his journey and his passion. He wants to help others to find their passion, their vision.

"I don't want you to finish this book and walk away with just a cool story. I want you to walk away with a burden on your heart. But not just any burden. I want you to be pursuing the purpose God has put on your heart-it has to be your vision.... My prayer for you is that God will give you your own vision of how you can take your best shot to make a difference in the world around you."

Each chapter shows a glimpse into his life and his journey. He shares scripture and insights into how you can find your vision. The chapter closes with "Take Your Best Shot", an interactive study guide. Each end of chapter study guide features a scripture passage, questions, online experience, and a take action activity.

This book was an inspiring read. People of all ages could benefit from reading about Austin's experience. The truth is if we had more children (and adults) who followed the Lord's vision for their lives, the world would be a better place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Think you're too young to change the world?, December 20, 2009
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
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Review by Jill Williamson

What would happen if you decided to change the world? Think you're too young? Too poor? Too plain? Austin Gutwein was only nine when his heart was broken by the truth of AIDS orphans in Africa. More than just wanting to make a difference, Austin had to. He couldn't sit by and pretend the problem wasn't his. It took him a while, but he finally found a way. He would ask people to sponsor him to shoot free throws. That was the start of something that in now a major non profit organization. Hoops for Hope has saved a generation of Africans by providing food, clothing, education, medical supplies, and hope.

Praise the Lord for a young man who wasn't willing to say, "No." His story moved me right down to the Pet rocks. I am honored to live on earth with such a courageous young man. In this book he tells his story. How it started, what he was thinking, the doubts and fears he had, and how God took his small effort and multiplied it again and again.

God designed you for a purpose. Have you found your purpose yet? Read this book. It will change your life. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Learning life from a child's view...., December 1, 2009
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

Austin has left me with a sense of anticipation to see just how God will use my family as we begin to simply take our best shot!!!

In his first book, Austin Gutwein tells the story of how Hoops of Hope began when he was just 9 yrs old! Austin is the founder of Hoops of Hope....THE FOUNDER!!! He founded Hoops of Hope at the tender age of 9!!!

Austin blew me away in the introduction when he said, "...I'm a normal kid who heard, 'Austin, God wants to use you' enough times that I started to believe it." He tugged at the very heart of my being with the statement, "Kids are really trying to make a difference in the world."

Yes, dear Austin, that is exactly what they desire to do!

My own precious daughters have warmed my heart as they have given from within themselves...and they are not alone. Austin says it so well, "They're reaching out to people in need, and they're stepping out of their comfort zones....They want to do something bigger than themselves."

Austin's heart was touched when he watched a video of a girl named Maggie that lived in Africa. Watching the video started a fire in his heart, one that he could not extinguish...and didn't! With his parents support, his family began sponsoring a child through World Vision. However, it didn't stop there....

Austin wanted to do more for the aids victims in Africa and as I read his story, I was shaken to the core to see how God used the gifts a 9 yr old boy could bring to change so many lives in a far off continent! This book...the Hoops of Hope organization...they aren't about Austin, and he knows it. They are about reaching out to the orphans and those less fortunate, just as God calls us to do.

I pray that you will pick up this book, especially at this Christmas season. Pray as you read it, and ask God what you can do...maybe not in Africa but what about your neighborhood, church or community. Then, pass the book on, maybe even to a teenager, because you never know who God is calling to take their best shot!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Wall of Zambia, November 16, 2009
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
The moment I cracked open the first few pages of Austin Gutwein's TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT, I knew I was in for something all right. I had heard vague stories about a kid who had done something with basketball to help the AIDS crisis, and I knew that this book talked all about that. I'll be honest, charity stories always hit me with a slight bit of cynicism -- wondering if the money is really going to the place they say. So I went in wondering if this was going to be one of those books that makes me feel guilty for not sponsoring a child or for not living in the depths of Africa feeding starving people. But I was wrong. This book didn't make me feel guilty at all -- it made me feel hope.

Austin, only 14 years old at the time of this review, started with a deep desire to want to change the world -- in some way, somehow. And that started his organization Hoops of Hope -- which raises funds for kids in Africa who have been orphaned by AIDS. In TAKE YOUR BEST SHOT, Austin tells his story of visiting Africa, starting out with Hoops of Hope, and what all of it means for us as people living our day to day lives with the things we need: food, shelter, clothing.

Each chapter focuses in on different aspects of Austin's personal journey, and tying it into the larger picture -- taking the reader through almost a devotional-like atmosphere with thoughts from Austin, famous and non-famous people, the Bible, and personal stories from Africa. At the end of the chapters are a few questions to keep you thinking about the topic of the chapter, which makes it ideal for working through as a daily sort of devotional.

Teens who have read books like DO HARD THINGS by the Harris brothers or DON'T WASTE YOUR LIFE by John Piper, would really enjoy reading Austin's story of hope and encouragement to get out in the world, do something to change it -- it doesn't have to be big, all you have to do is what Austin encourages from the outset: just take your best shot at it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Book, October 24, 2009
By 
S. Morrison (Vidalia, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
Wow! This was an inspiring book. I could not put the book down. The story about Austin and his vision to really make a difference as teenager was great. As a youth pastor we hear so much negative about this generation. Stuff like they are lazy, apathetic and lack any vision. Austin breaks that mold and challenges a generation to get up and do something. It also teaches us all that we can make a difference in a lost and hurt world. This is a must read book for teens and adults alike.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SLAM DUNK for Austin Gutwein & Todd Hillard, September 30, 2009
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
Take Your Best Shot by Austin Gutwein
Wow. A thousand times over. Wow. This book should be made into a movie. It would inspire the world. It would show young people that they are not too young or too little to make maximum impact on this earth. I want every young person in my life to read this book and be encouraged to follow their dreams. This twelve-year-old boy pursued a dream and stepped into greatness. The peoples' lives he has and will affect, innumerable. I wish this book would be required reading in all grade, middle and high schools. If you have a young person in your life who needs to believe that they can make an enormous difference in the world, I encourage you to get this book and go through it, story by story with them. Absolutely fantastic book about a boy who will inspire-to-action anyone who comes in contact with him and with his story. Don't miss this!

Cheryl Wyatt
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Story, Too Much Purpose Driven Preaching From The Ghostwriter, June 12, 2010
This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
First, I just want to say that Austin is a great kid, and his compassion for the children of AIDS victims in Africa is amazing and inspiring. I certainly didn't help people like that when I was a kid (unless you count collecting money door to door for the Muscular Dystrophy Association). I love Austin's heart for people. He shot 2070 free throws and raised money to build a school and a clinic in Zambia and changed lives forever with his Hoops for Hope foundation. His story deserves to be told and shared all over the world.

My favorite parts of the book are when Austin talks about how he first saw Maggie on a World Vision TV commercial and how he struggled and sweated his way through the 2070 free throws with crowds cheering every basket. What fun that must have been!

I liked his telling of the story of playing soccer with the Zambian boys in 100 plus degree heat.

Great story, great young man!

My only problem is that the ghost writer's (Todd Hillard) hand is a little too prominent. Large portions of the book read like purpose driven sermons that have been placed in Austin's mouth (the ghostwriter is a preacher). I have graded enough junior high papers to know that kids don't talk like this!

For example: "Maggie moments can be big, or they can be small, but they change us forever. They wake us up and tell us that there is a new kind of life waiting for us. They make us ask difficult questions and cause us to face painful realities." (pages 8-9). Great stuff, but this is not the voice of a teen, this is the voice of a seasoned preacher. The whole book is like this.

Also, the book is filled with sage sayings, memorable maxims (like "Keep the faith, keep the focus, keep first things first."), good pastoral counsel, and familiar Saddleback, Rick Warren style fare. This makes the book a tad disingenuous and a little too slick and polished, almost like purpose driven propaganda.

But the story is great, and most people won't notice or care that this is a purpose driven book in disguise. Thumbs up.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Book, September 22, 2013
By 
Ricardo A. Smith (Providence, RI, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
This book was a great book to read to get in touch with the power of "how much difference" one person can make. I highly recommend reading it if you want to be inspired in that way.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great encouraging story, August 19, 2013
By 
Herman Schoene (Claremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself (Paperback)
This is a great inspiring true story. It's amazing to read to your kids and grandkids! It challanges one to look at their own contribution to the world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars he loves the story, April 25, 2013
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purchased for my nephew..he is 12 and this book was sent to him to inspire him to go a step further in his thinking..and because it is a true story is even better.
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Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself
Take Your Best Shot: Do Something Bigger Than Yourself by Austin Gutwein (Paperback - September 15, 2009)
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