Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Review is In :: Live to Give

If you combine what breaks your heart and what you are passionate about, you can change the world for God. - Austin Gutwein

Austin Gutwein is not your ordinary author. He's a teenager, as well as a non-profit creator. His newest release, Live to Give: Letting God Turn your Talents into Miracles, is his second published book. Austin has a gift.

After watching a video about African children losing their parents to the AIDS virus, a nine year old Austin felt called to do something. But what could a child do for others half-way around the world? Austin used his gift and love of basketball.

On World AIDS Day in 2004, he shot 2,057 free throws to represent the 2,057 kids who would be orphaned during his day of school. Through sponsorships from parents and friends, Austin raised over $3,000 that day to give hope to eight orphans in Zambia.

Over the past eight years, Austin's efforts have created Hoops of Hope, the largest free throw marathon in the world. With an estimated 40,000 people in more than 25 countries participating, Hoops of Hope has raised more than $2.5 million to build schools, medical clinics, dormitories for orphanages, and the only computer lab in Zambia.

In Live to Give, primarily written for those 12 and older, Austin engages readers in the idea that one person can really make a difference. His main biblical example is from John 6 - the famous story of Jesus feeding the masses with the loaves of bread and fish. Austin believes this story of the Bible shows more than just Jesus performing a miracle; it is an example of how the young  can be part of something bigger, for it was the boy's lunch that fed the many. Austin insists that if individuals would take the things that make them unique and focus on how to use those God given gifts or talents, than they too could make a difference in the lives of others.

"For me, it was shooting hoops to raise money. [God] wanted me to give my time and my favorite hobby. For the boy in the multitude of 5,000, it was his lunch. For you...well, this book is meant to help you discover what that is," Austin writes. "But there is one common theme throughout all of our stories: we all need to live to give because we were made for it. Nothing beats living this way! Nothing we could eat, drink, buy, play, watch, or win in life can compare to the feeling of giving ourselves away, using 'whatever gift we have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God's grace.'"

Beyond just the idea of living to give, Austin also offers young readers ways to deal with social issues, such as bullying, peer pressure, comfort zones, confidence, and more.

Austin discusses how to live to give by exploring these four concepts with his audience and asking readers to discuss them with their parents: 1. What you passionate about; 2. The things that break your heart; 3. The way you want to serve God; and 4. What your praying and dreaming about, and what God has led you toward so far. Even as an adult, I see the relevance of these concepts in my own life.

As a parent, I would recommend other parents read this book before they share it with their children. Austin has several great points for parents; ideas/concepts we may sometimes overlook or forget. I especially found his letter to adults worth sharing.

Dear parents, youth workers, and everyday heroes,
      Every time you say yes to a child or to a child's dream, you are having an impact. You are having an impact larger than you'll ever know. You may never know how big a story God is going to write through your child, and it all can start because you say yes. To have an impact, say yes. Be the parent or children's pastor or youth pastor who says yes to their dreams. Be the one who encourages them like none other. And never have doubts as to whether or not you are having an impact. You are.

If you would like to purchase Live to Give for the young reader in your life, please visit this link. To view what other bloggers are saying about Austin Gutwein and his newest novel, please visit this link. For more information on Hoops of Hope, Austin's non-profit, please visit this link, where you can get involved and make donations.

Win and Kindle Fire and have $250 donated to the charity of your choice!
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{I was provided a copy of Live to Give by the publisher, Thomas Nelson.}

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