Austin Gutwein was just nine years old when he watched a video about an African AIDS orphan named Maggie. That video led him to take action, and when he did, he changed the lives of AIDS victims on the other side of the world. Austin made a difference by shooting two thousand free throws in a local gymnasium. His friends, family and community sponsored him, and he raised $3000 to help African children orphaned by AIDS. But Austin didn't stop there. He founded "Hoops of Hope", an annual event to further help AIDS victims. Since then, Austin and his "team" have accomplished far more than he ever imagined. The events he's organized have built a school and a clinic in Africa, and his vision continues to grow. Austin's book, Take Your Best Shot, is his personal narrative. It tells the story of how "Hoops of Hope" grew into a miracle, and it includes a sub-story about Austin's faith in God. With the help of co-writer Todd Hillard, Austin writes in a teen-friendly style that encourages kids to search for their own ways to make a difference as well as introduces them to a purpose-driven life through faith in God. His book is proof that one kid with a vision can indeed change the world.
Have you ever wondered what faith that can change the world really looks like? The book Take Your Best Shot gives an incredible example. When Austin Gutwein was only nine years old, he saw a video from World Vision called Maggie's Story. Maggie was also nine years old; but she lived in Zambia, and she was an AIDS orphan. This four minute video sparked a passion that would eventually become the organization Hoops of Hope, an international aid group that has provided sponsorship, education and medical care to countless people in Africa. Along with the story of Hoops of Hope you are provided with a glimpse into the behind the scenes work and faith happening in Austin's life, complete with pictures.What makes this book different from other books of this genre, is that it also focuses on the reader, and inspires the reader to find their passion, look for a need and put those two together to make a change. Although it is clearly written to a teen audience, I found myself drawn into it in a powerful way. At the end of each chapter there is a discussion area, and more than once I was challenged by the Word of God and inspired to "think like a nine year old". To have faith in God removed from the overwhelming practicality of adulthood. To work to change the world, even if you just start with one person's world. It is definitely going to go on my daughter's reading list for school this year. It was a great first pick to review for Thomas Nelson's Book Review Blogger program.
Im glad this teenager decided to write this book and I was given the chance to read it. This book is encouraging and inspiring. It is a reminder that, by Gods grace, kids and teens can make a difference. Its not often a book comes around that makes you want to change the world and helps you believe you can really do it. I love that Austin encourages us to put spending time with God first. At the end of chapters, there is a suggested passage of Scripture to meditate on and talk with God about. We are encouraged to see the need around us and seek out our own particular vision and passion. Do something bigger than yourself! We also get to hear the story of Hoops of Hope and other kids stories. Wow. Nothing is impossible with God! This book is easy to read, draws some interesting analogies, and manages to be funny and serious at different times. Have you ever heard of a Pet Rock? Did you know that every five seconds a child dies because of lack of food? Thats what I mean. Light-hearted and sad. It somehow works! Those who read my reviews will notice that in most books there are at least some things that bother me. Im not going to say anything negative about this book. That says something :).