WAIT! Before you sign that next check for your favorite ministry. Before you join a campaign to collect shoes for orphans in a poor African village. Before you take sandwiches down to the homeless in San Diego, take time to read When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.
I’ve often considered that politicians exploit the poor for their own purposes, but I never judged myself guilty of such a ploy. Don’t get me wrong. My exploitation takes the form of helping myself feel better about the abundance of possessions I have when I skim off some of the excess and pass it off to those who might need it more. This book has made me take more than just a second look at how I deal with the materially poor in this world. My focus has been on my deeds, but not so much on my attitude. I’ve had a rude awakening – well, perhaps not rude, but maybe radical – regarding the whole issue of “helping” the materially poor.
The authors are sharing perspectives they have learned the hard way, from their own loving but misguided mistakes. Their approach is far from authoritarian, but rather, from a shepherding viewpoint. They are sincere about helping not just the materially poor, but also those of us who want to help. Their ideas are practical, biblical, and sustainable. Do yourself and the poor you help a favor, read the book. -Marian Drops