Under the Overpass

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  • Format: Trade Paper
  • Copyright: 2005-03-31
  • Publisher: Multnomah

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Mike Yankoski's life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. By his own choice. From the United States capital to San Diego, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, journeyed as homeless men for five months. Not for a project or even in response to a dare. He needed to know if his faith in God was real-if he could actually be the Christian he said he was apart from the comforts he'd always known.

Author Biography

During high school, Michael Yankoski was actively involved in his local church and youth group, with whom he went on several international mission trips, including a two-month outreach in the Dominican Republic. Mike lives out his faith with radical intensity, and he is intentional in his pursuit of a lifestyle that reaches others for Christ and glorifies God. Now a student at Westmont, a small Christian liberal arts college in Santa Barbara, California, he is studying theology and computer science.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Ryan Dobson 7(2)
Note to the Reader 9(2)
Section 1: Twenty Minutes Past the World 11(14)
A Flicker of Lightning
"Why Would You Want to Do That?"
The Counsel of Friends
Enter Sam
Traveling Papers
Invitation to the Journey
Section 2: Denver 25(30)
A Long Way from Home
Cold Turkey
The Breakfast Club
Hell Fire
Exit to Street Level
Section 3: Washington, D.C. 55(40)
The World Is Changed
"You Like Chicken Parmesan?"
Most Important Meal of the Day
A Song for Pamela
We Have a Policy
Cowbell Door Chime
Like a Child
Seed Money
Photo Op
Section 4: Portland 95(26)
The Idea of Comfort
Worship Under a Bridge
Sugar Man's Gospel
Body Basics
Church Lock Down
The Stupid, Small Things
Section 5: San Francisco 121(36)
In the Presence of My Enemies
Bed for the Night
Wake-Up Call
You Just Know It's Dark in There
The Other Jesus Guy
The Grace of Pizza
Bloody Sandals
Berkeley Booh Yah
Section 6: Phoenix 157(24)
We Don't Go to Church
Return to Forgiveness
Fix or Fish Sandwich?
On Begging
Road Rash Carnival
Section 7: San Diego 181(28)
Shuffling Home
Old Yellers
Circle of Light
Freedom Rings
Ashes and Snow
Section 8: Coming Back to Normal 209(13)
Wanting More (and More)
Street Visitor
Now What?
The Risk of Your Life
Acknowledgments 222


by Francis Chan

I would like to write a few words about Mike Yankoski, and then I’ll give some thoughts about his book. . . I am a very
skeptical person, and I struggle with cynicism. Like most people, I have heard so many lies that now I have a hard time trusting. I even struggle when reading a good book, because in the back of my mind I’m wondering if the person who wrote it is for real.
   So what is it about Mike that inclines me to trust him? The sacrifices he has made.
   Sacrifice promotes believability.
   The apostle Paul defended his ministry in 2 Corinthians 11 with a list of hardships he endured. It was his suffering for the sake of the gospel that gave credence to his message. Paul showed that he genuinely believed what he taught. Why else would he suffer as he did? His argument in 1 Corinthians 15 is similar as he explains the foolishness of his lifestyle if the gospel isn’t true.
   While there are many who say they live for eternity, Mike and his wife, Danae, are among the few I actually believe. Their actions have shown me that I can trust them. You can too.
   Now about the book. . .
   I was warned when entering seminary that if I was not careful, a dangerous habit could form: I could learn to read
the Bible anddonothing in response. I still remember our seminary president warning us that study to the neglect of
action becomes easier and easier with each occurrence. We should be terrified if we have mastered the art of becoming convicted and doing nothing in response. Don’t read Mike’s book if you’re not willing to change your attitude and actions toward the homeless.
   As a person who considers himself sensitive to the needs of the rejected in our country, I learned from this book that I still have a ways to go. I look forward to seeing the changes God will bring about in my life because of it.
   Mike shows much grace in pointing out weaknesses our churches may have in caring for the poor. It is embarrassing
to admit, but I have often struggled with pride when encountering the homeless. I can’t say that I usually see them as having equal worth with me, much less consider them as “better” than myself (Philippians 2:3). Like many, I have found myself at times working to avoid rather than seeking to engage.
   Far from condemning, this book actually causes me to look forward to my next encounter with those living on the
streets. I believe it will do the same for you. As I followed Mike’s journey and tried to put myself in his shoes, it caused me to love Jesus more. As I thought of what a struggle it would be for me to leave my comforts, it stirred a greater adoration toward my Savior, who emptied Himself to dwell with us.

      This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid
      down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our
      lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions
      and sees his brother in need but has no pity on
      him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children,
      let us not love with words or tongue but with
      actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16–18)

   I pray that the story of Mike and Sam’s five-month journey causes you to eagerly anticipate your next encounter with a homeless man or woman, created in the image of God.   —FRANCIS CHAN

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