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Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America Paperback – March 31, 2005

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Under the Overpass: A Journey of Faith on the Streets of America + Faith and Other Flat Tires: Searching for God on the Rough Road of Doubt + The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Multnomah Books; Later Printing edition (March 31, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590524020
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590524022
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (318 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Yankoski's parents were right: It was crazy to live as a homeless person in six American cities for five months; fortunately, this crazy idea makes for quite a story. Yankoski, a Christian college student, challenges the reader to learn about faith, identify with the poor and find "more forgotten, ruined, beautiful people than we ever imagined existed, and more reason to hope in their redemption." The journey begins at a Denver rescue mission and ends on a California beach. Along the way, Yankoski and a friend learn the perils of poor hygiene and the secrets of panhandling. They meet unfortunates like Andrew, who squanders his musical talent to feed his drug habit, and hustlers like Jake, who gives the pair tips about how to look and sound more pitiful to get more money. Yankoski tends to moralize: "If we respond to others based on their outward appearance, haven't we entirely missed the point of the Gospel?" Still, the book features fine writing ("I awoke, rolled over and saw beads of sweat already forming on my arms. Saturday, early morning, Phoenix") and vivid stories, authentically revealing an underworld of need. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-As a college student in Santa Barbara, Yankoski was comfortable with his life. However, listening to a Sunday sermon one morning, he began to wonder whether his faith would remain as strong if his privileged upbringing and typical college existence were taken away. So began his decision to put his faith to the test. After discussing his plans with his family and various advisors, he and a friend took a leave of absence from their studies and their middle-class lives to enter the world of the homeless. They spent five months in 2003 on the streets of Denver; Phoenix; Washington, DC; and other cities. Playing their guitars and panhandling, they relied entirely on charity. The harshness, hunger, dangers, and indignities they faced are reported in detail. They formed friendships with other homeless people and watched many of them struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Yankoski steers clear of preachy or patronizing tones, and his dry sense of humor makes the book thoroughly readable. Teens will appreciate the frankness with which he approaches the day-to-day challenges and his personal struggles.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Michael Yankoski is a writer, aspiring theologian, and urban homesteader who dreams of becoming a competent woodworker, musician, and sailor.

He graduated from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA; received his MA in theological studies at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia; is a (novitiate) Oblate of St. Benedict, and has authored four books.

Michael grew up in Colorado, feels at home on the Pacific Coast, and currently resides in Indiana, where he and his wife are pursuing PhDs at the University of Notre Dame.

Web: www.MichaelYankoski.com
Facebook: fb.com/myankoski
Twitter: @michaelyankoski

Customer Reviews

The book is well written and a very easy read in a day or so.
Thanks, Mike, for writing this book and causing me to pray about what I can do to show Christ's love to people "Under the Overpass".
LaVerne Ombadykow
It changed the way I view the homeless - Like I said, I didn't think I really needed much work in this area before I read this book.
A. Perrott

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 79 people found the following review helpful By Erik Olson VINE VOICE on September 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
One day during a powerful sermon, Mike Yankoski had a paradigm shift as a believer in Christ. He decided that he needed to become the Christian that he claimed to be. That epiphany evolved into a daring plan: drop out of "normal" life and live for five months as a homeless person. After prayer and counsel, he found a kindred spirit named Sam Purvis to accompany him for safety's sake, and they did just that. Equal parts travel journal and faith chronicle, "Under the Overpass" is their fascinating story.

While most Christians (myself included) dream about the radical things they would *like* to do for God, Mike and Sam actually stepped out and did them. They traveled around the US to five different cities and spent about a month in each. They lived by their wits: panhandling, sleeping under bridges, eating discarded food, and getting to know the grungy homeless most of us dismiss as being lazy, addicts, crazy, or all three. They also experienced the best and worst of "regular" people, Christian or not - those who went out of their way to help, along with ones who taunted them or threw them out of coffee shops and churches.

An important aspect of this story is what it isn't: a fundie guilt-trip, ego boosting condescension, or boring theological treatise. Instead, it's a tale of simple and real faith in action. Mike and Sam had a humble desire to live out God's Word on the edge, and they fall back on Scripture verses and spiritual songs for succor or to reinforce a lesson learned. Of course, there were times of discouragement, conflict (with third parties and each other), and physical misery. But through these trials they achieved a deeper and more profound relationship with Christ, along with a genuine love for those who aren't so lovely or lovable.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Christian Book Previews on April 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Clean, comfortable, and well fed? Have a cup of coffee and a couple of cookies to hand and ready to receive a nice little blessing? Well, think again. You are likely to choke on those cookies. No nice little blessings here, but rather some big, thought-jerking lessons leading to deep, maybe even uncomfortable, convictions.

Upper-middle class college students Mike and Sam answered God's call, purchased very used back packs and sleeping bags and, for several months, joined the ranks of the homeless. This adventure was not an easy decision. Receiving much advice from Christian mentors, making sure they had prayer backing, these two guys started in Denver and by the time they hit Washington, DC, they knew what kind of hunger makes you eat out of trash cans.

With a guitar and a modicum of talent, they sang gospel music on the streets to raise a little cash. Sometimes they ate 99 cent hamburgers. How long does it take for cement to become a comfortable bed? Where do you find washing and toilet facilities when businesses chase you from theirs? Just how dirty and smelly can a human become, and how fast? How do you handle sickness, injury, rampaging feelings? Which are more predominate, Christians and churches who ignore, chase, denigrate the grungy hopeless, or those who emulate their Lord by helping them? Are there Christians in dire need out there on the streets? What does it really mean to depend on the Lord for absolutely everything? Mike Yankoski knows the answers first hand.

Not a missionary, nor a theologian, although he keeps in the Word, he shares his experiences in absolute simplicity with gritty, deep truth, never shielding us from the smells, hurts, shocks, and fears.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By radiogirl85 on December 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard Mr. Yankoski on a Christian Internet radio station talking about his street-living experiences and the subsequent book that followed and was fascinated from the first word. Not only is the book hard to put down (I read it in about a day and a half but without interruption, easily could have in less than a day), but having Mike's real-life experiences as the main story makes for a highly educational read. My opinion of the homeless was not exactly very "Christian" before I read the book but now I see their situation very differently. Mike offer's quite an eye-opener into the some-times hellish living conditions the homeless face and the fact that most of them are not content to be there but have no other options.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R Shull on August 25, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I would like to respond to James Wallace. Perhaps you were disappointed in this book because you were looking for a point that the writer was not trying to make. This book is a snapshot of Mr. Yankoski's experiences. Everything I read or watch or do must be filtered through my experiences and spiritual life. With that in mind, this book knocked me back a few inches.

When I opened the book I expected it to be "preaching to the choir." For the last 32 years I have either been living by the gracious hand outs of others or I have worked in Food Pantries and Soup Kitchens.

I know what it is like to wonder how I will feed my child his next meal. I also know what it is like to cook at the Salvation Army on Sundays and load bags of food into trunks, carts, & backpacks on Mondays. But none of that knowledge is enough.

Caring for the needy in the small ways; touching the people the Jesus touched the lepers; NEVER letting someone see you flare your nostrils when you pass them; caring for one another as automatically as breathing....these are the things that God applied to my heart as I read this book.
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