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Book Review: The Invisible by Arloa Sutter

June 11, 2012

Thanks to my thoughtful girls, I got a new book on poverty this month! I’ve wanted to read Arloa’s book for quite some time, but honestly wondered if it would offer anything new. I’ve read sooo many, all good, but isn’t there a limit on what one can say about this issue? History and memory drew me onward. I know Arloa. I was her daughter’s youth leader for a time, her church, my church, and I was present in the beginning years of this amazing ministry she started and of which she writes. I had to read it!

I don’t think it’s just nostalgic affinity which makes me say, you must read this book! It is different and apparently, there is much more to say on this topic. Arloa is an amazing woman, for many reasons. But it is a truly strong woman who moves into one of the “worst” neighborhoods of Chicago, alone; who spends 4 nights on the street to better understand those she serves; who prays expectantly and moves forward in faith and obedience and sees God show up in crazy ways!

The Invisible is laced with real stories of the characters she has known through the years as Executive Director of Breakthrough Urban Ministries, including guests, staff, and volunteers. It is refreshing to read of honest fears, thrilling to see God answer prayers, even the unspoken ones, and humbling to learn of the backstory of those living on the street. Arloa shares some of her own journey, as well as those who helped birth Breakthrough. It is immensely personal and yet applicable at the same time… simultaneously a memoir/ public policy commentary/ bible study/ primer on working with the poor. Yes, I hear your thoughts! My kind of book!

If I am honest, I must confess I am quite bored by Christian books. There is a vibe of insularity (word??) that tires me. This is not one of those. It is obvious that Arloa herself draws from an expanse of friendship, heartache, other urban practitioners, and global exposure. It is a vibe which attracts me; infuses in me life and renewal; makes me want to love God more, do something, and find people to do it with!

Let me know what you think if you read it too. Perhaps we can love God more, do something, and find each other to do it with!

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