Monday, February 14, 2011

Book Review--"Take Your Best Shot"

I read 112 pages of this 212 page book in one shot. That wasn't exactly my best shot, as I actually wanted to read more, to completely finish the book in one go. But it was late and I'm not a night-owl.
The book's author, Austin Gutwein, is a teenager who started a ministry for AIDS orphans while he was a child. He has raised over $1,000,000.00 in relief funds and started an organization called Hoops for Hope (, AND built a school and medical clinic in Zambia. His is an amazing story of how a (then) 9-year old boy was touched by another 9-year old child halfway around the world. He had a heart-change-moment and was moved in a way that many adults have become desensitized to. He encourages us to ask other young children what they want to do with their lives and listen: many of them want to "save the world" in one way or another. He is actually, really, truly doing it. And it started out very, very small. With no intention to do more than a one-time "basketball-a-thon" -type event, he and his family were as surprised as anyone to watch as God revealed His larger plan. His challenge to us: to do something bigger than yourself.
There are many inspirational stories out there. Many books, many videos, many local heroes. But this boy has touched my heart in a really different way. The book does read as though it is written to teenagers, with the occasional yet ever-present "hip" wording. Nothing at all innappropriate, just "young", which is part of it's appeal to teens and older kids. While you may or may not find it endearing, it does not detract from the book's message at all. My classic-book-loving teenage daughter found it too annoying to read all the way through. But I couldn't help noticing that shortly after she read part of the book, she started her own small charity at church. Teenagers and young people are so much more capable than we give them credit for. Austin highlights that in his book, with the Introduction telling us that "The world expects so little out of us right now, it's almost ridiculous...if we don't do drugs, don't drop out of school, don't have sex and don't get arrested, that's "success". That's crazy! Who set the bar so low for teenagers?".
You simply gotta love a book that starts out with that in it's Introduction. Especially when it's written by a teenager. I can't wait to finish it.
"Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
1 Timothy 4:12

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