BOOK TITLE: The Shadowy Word of the Poor
Author: Shirley Mandel Satterfield
REVIEW: The Shadowy Word of the Poor: Memories of my Friends at the Rescue Mission, by Shirley Mandel Satterfield is a candid look at worshipping at a poor store-front mission in a small southern town. This book outlines with great care and compassion the many people Mandel met while worshipping at this Mission.
In this book, Mandel outlines just how important a Rescue Mission is in a small town for the poor, who depend and count on it for their faith in a life lived without many of the everyday comforts most of us take for granted in America. Mandel, does a remarkable job breaking down these individuals by the roles they played in the mission and describing their character and personalities.
These were the poor people who gave what they didn’t have, some of it monetary, and some of it from their hearts and souls. She describes Pastor Mark, as the most patient and compassionate man she had ever met, because once someone came to the mission door regardless, how far down they had gone, he would never give up on caring for them, and he would never turn them away. Mandel talks about other angels of the church that gave as much as they could with whatever they had, whether it be character and heart or money to the mission.
Mandel talks about Paul, their resident would-be missionary who described to the congregation
many places all over the U.S.A through singing "This little light of mine, let it shine". She describes him in a comical, kind fashion trying to play the piano to the church, banging on the keys. Mandel mentions how Paul also gave money to the church and encouraged others to do the same. Mandel describes these kind characters of the church with such compassion, humor and kindness, it can’t help but melt your heart. One of the many people she describes is Deborah, whom they called, “the Barefoot Prophet”, the lady refused to wear shoes because she considered “God’s whole earth to be sacred ground”, as being a generous soul tithing her Social Security check before she bought groceries for herself. She points out that what Deborah gave, Matthew, their ghetto lawyer would give her with his money back, although he was poor himself. Mandel is making the point that all of these “Saints” gave in some cases what they didn’t have to give.
Mandel next describes the “Sinners” in the church, and what each of them did to sin. Yet, they worshipped just as diligently as all of us might in a situation like this, if we had been living in a world like theirs. Mandel points out in each case the goodness in each and every one of them, and what their particular sins were.
One of the sinners that stick in my mind is “the Killer” who claimed to have killed six people for stealing his money and barely escaped death in the prison system. Mandel shows the depth of her mercy and God’s, as she describes these people managing to find something kind to say about each of them. She shows the same mercy in describing the Prostitute, the homeless woman and the sex addict, each with their own interesting biographies.
Mandel covers "the innocents" in the church, such as the mission kids, and one particular ten-year-old boy who was addicted to tobacco. She wonders, “where he got his first cigarette” to get him hooked in the first place.
Mandel, wraps up this wonderful, heartwarming book about mission life with the rules of the road. These were the rules of the poor as they lived by their own justice system having lost faith in the justice system itself and the police.
This book is a must read because it will bring you back to some of the real realities that we may have to live through in life and other people actually live through. This book points out the trials and tribulations that are very real conditions for the poor, and how mission life saved them in one form or another.
Mandel tells the story from her point of view, which is very credible since she was a part of it at a certain period in her life when she needed this mission the most. She also teaches you through her eyes, what it is actually like to be this poor and still turn to God with faith and love and her compassion comes through every line. I loved this book, the way it was written, and the truth in each of the lines of print.
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