Miss Brenda and the Loveladies, written by Brenda Spahn and Irene Zutell, I found to be both good and bad. This true story chronicles a woman’s adventure in starting a “whole-way” house for women recently released from prison. The concept was to give them everything they needed…clothes, food, a nice home, a job, friendship….to make it after being released.
Brenda Spahn certainly had a lot of guts. She shares honestly about some of the difficulties and struggles she went through. But over and over, she highlights how these women were precious people. I love how she did not believe the ever popular “once an addict, always an addict.” They didn’t need AA to remind them they were still addicts who were a certain number of days clean. They were new people.
There are some sections that would probably not be appropriate for younger readers, such as the accounts of abuse, both substance and sexual, asterisked language, and some of the unwise choices some of the women made.
While I loved her heart for this amazing and much-needed ministry, I was troubled by several aspects of the book. I was shocked when on the very first page she takes the Lord’s name in vain. This occurred several more times. In other sections, she used other language of various levels of offense.
There were also several things that were troubling theologically. a) There was mention of a woman becoming ordained. b) Brenda was pursuing this ministry against her husband’s wishes and lived away from him against his wishes for quite some time. c) There were several mentions of how these women didn’t have a chance for a successful, crime free life because of their terrible pasts of abuse. d) The mention of divorce, not God, being the answer to some problems. e) Perhaps the biggest of all…there is no discussion of true salvation. Brenda explains that prayer, not salvation, will bring them into a real relationship with God. She encourages the ladies to be baptized without any discussion or mention (in the book at least) of sin or Jesus’ death and resurrection. I understand that authors must pick and choose details to include due to time and space, but some of these details are rather important. Further details might reconcile these concerns, but without knowing those details, my concerns remain.
Bottom line: I was super encouraged by Brenda’s heart for those who are so often overlooked, but I was very troubled by much of her life and methods.
Note: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for this review.