Publisher: Thomas Nelson
List Price: $12.99
Ages: 12 and up
Melissa J's Thoughts:
While this book is geared for teeangers, Take Your Best Shot inspired me - -in a great way! If 9 year old can start a movement to raise a million dollars in international AIDS releif and build a school and medical clinic in Zambia, surely I, a 34 year old woman, can impact my world, somehow, someway!
When they heard his heart and asked him what he liked to do, his response was, "I like basketball." While they gave him their ear, they later said they thought they'd never hear from him again. Little did they know what God, in a 9 year old boy would do!
It began with Austin making the commitment to shoot 2,057 sponsored free throws. This goal would support eight AIDS orphans. Austin, with a numb arm, completed this goal but that wasn't the end. It was only the beginning. The following year he began recruiting others to do sponsored free throws and a grand total of $38,000 was raised! The third year, 1500 kids were doing shooting hoops and more than $85,000 was raised. Austin was on his way to a million dollars of raised money, something that he hadn't even dreamed of four years prior!
Take Your Best Shot is more than Austin's story (which is what I was initially expecting). It is a story that has God's fingerprints all over it, including the salvation story. Not only that, it is a book that causes adolescents to ask themselves some deep, heart searching questions - questions that have the potential to bring about world change as it did in Austin's case!
After going through World Vision's Step Into Africa and seeing the faces of the children who are affected by AIDS, day in and day out, this book really hit home for me. It really confirmed a calling in my own heart as I read the story of how Hoops of Hope came to be. Take Your Best Shot is so beautifully written; I am amazed by the wisdom of Austin Gutwein, as he shares his story. As the story weaves through several chapters, there are many quotes and Scriptures used to back up everything that is taught throughout the book. Each chapter also ends with discussion questions/ things to ponder.
Who would have ever dreamed that one kid, one video, a basketball, and a hoop in America could be used to change lives half a world away? The story started in 2004 when nine year old Austin Gutwein saw a World Vision video, titled Maggie's Story. He was already writing to a child named Ignatius, whom his family was sponsoring, in Africa; but something resonated within him when he saw Maggie's story, and he was so moved that his father contacted World Vision to see how Austin could help, what a nine year old boy could do to help. James 1:27 came to life for him- Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world (NKJV). As he shares his story, he also shares the stories of others who are "taking their best shot": Ayla, who is making a difference, even though she is suffering from cancer; Buna, who was forced into prostitution but has been able to turn that around and do a work that is so necessary. He shares how we can become world-changers....in essence, he is speaking to teens throughout this book, but I felt God speaking to my heart at various times throughout the book; no matter the age, I highly recommend this book. Anyway, he alternates between stories of his travels and experiences in Africa with spiritual insights that have come about. In order to be world-changers, we don't have to be a certain age or a certain class. It starts with a broken heart and a mindset that is set on eternity more than on the temporary things of our everyday lives. He says that it's not about what we do, but it's about who we are. It's about our availability to God and willingness to be used by Him. In doing the will of God for our lives, in reaching beyond our comfort zones to help those in need, our hearts will, in turn, be blessed. He cautions to check your motives at the door, though. Vision and passion are other necessary ingredients. Sometimes it's just the little things done without anyone else's knowledge that can make all the difference in the world. Tidbits of wisdom are sprinkled throughout.
Austin was able to use his passion for basketball to start the organization Hoops of Hope. The second year that Hoops of Hope was going, when World AIDS Awareness Day came around on December 1, they were able to raise enough money to sponsor over 100 AIDS orphans. The dream kept going, though. In the next few years, as more and more kids got involved around the country and the world, they had raised enough money to build a school and two medical clinics. A lab is set to follow in 2010. It's simply amazing what God can do in the life of someone who has a heart dedicated to taking his best shot. A nine year old boy answered God's call to action, and look what God did through him. Throughout the book, Austin stresses the importance of living the one life we have to the fullest. We only have one short life in lieu of eternity....when you think about life in terms of eternity, it is like a needle in a haystack, so minute. That's why it's crucial to use our time here wisely.
I definitely would encourage everyone to read this book. It's one that I will be keeping on my shelf to read to my boys when they get older. It has ignited a fire in my own soul. At $12.99 on Thomas Nelson, I would definitely purchase this book. It would be a great book to share with teens or even with others who might benefit....in my opinion, anyone would benefit from reading this book.
We have one copy of this book to give away. Simply leave us a comment with your email address and we will use an online random generator to pick our winner on December 19th.