Have you ever experienced a sermon that was so powerful and so convicting you felt compelled to do something radical about the message? That’s what happened to Mike Yankoski. Last week on the Focus on the Family broadcast we aired a fascinating two-day conversation with Mike who, as a Christian college student living in Santa Barbara, California at the time, marched out of his pew and onto the streets to better understand the plight of the homeless.
Mike could have made a donation to his local rescue mission, served in a soup kitchen, or distributed blankets to the homeless during the winter. While those are wonderful expressions of love and care, that wasn’t enough to quench Mike’s thirst to do all that he could do. That’s when Mike and kindred spirit, Sam Purvis, decided to spend five months actually living among the homeless.
These young men picked five different cities where they lived on the streets for a month each. They traveled with no money, an old guitar, and the clothes on their backs. As you’d expect, Mike and Sam panhandled, did their share of “dining” on discarded food in dumpsters, and slept wherever they could find a place to lay their heads.
If you missed these broadcasts, you’ll want to hear what Mike learned about the problem of homelessness from his first hand experience. Mike’s story inspired this listener to come forward with her creative way of providing hope for the homeless. Anna Maria writes:
I wanted to comment on the radio broadcast, “Finding Jesus on the Streets.” It was so exciting to hear somebody talk about the subject of homelessness. I have always had a passion for helping the homeless, but didn’t know where to start. I began praying and the Lord led me to create what I call a “HOPE” bag—which stands for “Helping Other People Endure.”
The HOPE bag is a clear, gallon-sized zip-lock bag containing basic items like a toothbrush, small umbrella, flashlight, first-aid kit, cans of fruit/beanie-weenies (with pop-tops), bottled water, plastic fork/spoons, hand wipes, and the like.
We also included a large print daily devotional. We got our kids involved in making these bags so this became a neat family project. We keep the bags in our car so if we’re riding down the road and see a homeless person (usually the ones holding up the signs), we will pull over and hand them a HOPE bag.
The smiles and gratitude these precious people show is beyond words! And, wow, the lessons we have learned! Thank you for airing such a wonderful broadcast! And, thank you for all that you do at Focus on the Family.
I’d say she’s offering one of those practical and timely ideas that any of us can implement. If you, like Anna Maria, want to make your own Hope Bags—especially with an eye on the upcoming fall and harsh winter months—why not motivate your family with a copy of Mike’s book, Under the Overpass. It’s must reading.