Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Report from First Saturday Meeting in Austin Community

Arloa Sutter, founder and Executive Director of Breakthrough Ministries ====>Click headline to access . . on Chicago’s north side was our speaker/discussion leader this morning. Arloa grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa where her family belonged to a church she describes as “fundamentalist Christian and almost entirely German American.” Many years after coming to Chicago and attending Moody Bible Institute, Arloa discovered her “whiteitis” when she opened a storefront to serve coffee and sandwiches to homeless people who were attending her church. She decided to simply listen to the stories of those who came in. Her typical assumptions about people of color were quickly broken down as she listened to these dear people speak of their journey with God, some having drifted away, some with a deep faith, and still others that did not know the Lord at all. Arloa spoke personally about her journey on the road of recovery from the persistent white/Eurocentric superiority so many of us struggle with, which includes many assumptions about others that we are often not even aware of. She was clear that she is a “work in progress” and that she must continually fight the temptation to fall back to seeing herself as the solution to all the problems around her.

Arloa has been in true communion with people of color since the early 1990’s when Breakthrough Ministries began. During that time she has had many experiences that have given her first hand knowledge of some of what it is like to be black in America. She recalled a time when she was driving a group of black men from an event at Trinity University back to the north side of Chicago. When she saw police lights behind her she automatically assumed that it was probably about her expired registration sticker and she would simply explain the situation and they would be on their way. Instead, she and her friends were told to get against the car with their hands and legs spread apart and it was then that she realized they were being pulled over simply because the car was full of black males. Arloa’s words to us today were backed by significant personal experience and genuine humility and awareness of her own struggles. She gave no sense to the group that she has things “figured out.”

Those of us that could be there this morning were blessed, encouraged, and uplifted by the powerful worship, which was inspired to even greater heights by young Jeremiah, who at eight years old is a worship leader! We are now left with the challenge to take what we experience and learn on the First Saturday of every month with us wherever we go. We must ask how these experiences of being together in this unique and powerful gathering will make a difference in our families, our places of work, our communities, our schools, and in our churches. Let us not take lightly the power of God working through a gathering that brings together Christian disciples from such diverse backgrounds. It is God’s will that this be the norm rather than the exception. Read and be reminded of God’s vision for His Kingdom from the book of Revelation 5: 9-10.
And they sang a new song:
"You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth."

To the Glory of God!!
Bob Marsh
323 West Chicago Ave., Hinsdale, IL 60521

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