When Helping Hurts


It only takes a few minutes watching the nightly news to be reminded that we live in a world drowning in urgent spiritual and physical needs. Thankfully, while evangelism and Bible translation efforts continue around the globe, many Christians have also taken on the essential task of caring for the poor and marginalized. After all, Jesus Himself both preached the good news of the Kingdom and showed it by healing the sick. However, sometimes even the best intentions can hurt the very people we are trying to help and can even make the problems worse.

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert tackles this issue directly.  The book starts with a discussion about the fundamental nature of poverty and then discusses three key issues (relief, rehabilitation, and development) to consider when building a poverty-alleviating strategy. The authors end with a set of strategies to help increase people’s income and wealth (thereby alleviating material poverty) and practical steps to get started. Each chapter includes both initial thoughts to get you thinking as well as reflection questions for application.

Pastor Mark Orphan recommended this book to the attendees of the first Missions Orientation Meeting and explained that our missions philosophy (to be transformational rather than transactional, holistic rather than one-dimensional, collaborative rather than isolated, and empowering rather than paternalistic) is rooted in the pages of this very informative and thought-provoking book. Copies are available in the Timberline Church book store.

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