Friday, August 7, 2009

"When Helping Hurts" (1)

As I mentioned in a previous post the good folks at Westminster Bookstore were kind enough to give me a copy of When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. I have read it and can say with confidence that it is the best book on giving meaningful help to the impoverished that I have ever read. This week I will be engaging the book with a series of posts that will serve as something of a review.

Brian Fikkert is an associate professor of economics and the founder and executive director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College. Steve Corbett is an associate professor in the department of economics and development at Covenant College. He also serves as the community development specialist at the Chalmers Center.

The first thing I noticed about When Helping Hurts is the impressive endorsements. There are evangelicals who are reformed and those who are not, those who lean to the left and those who lean to the right politically speaking who have found this book to be profoundly helpful.

Here are a few examples:

"What an opportunity evangelicals have to make a difference in our world through the church as we move deeper into the third millenium! Corbett and Fikkert build on the growing momentum of holistic witness that's sweeping our country and globe. Given their work nationally and internationally both personally and through the Chalmers Center, Corbett and Fikkert are eminently qualified and positioned to take motivated kingdom citizens on a Christ-centered and comprehensive journey that will pay huge dividends for impoverished people and for Christians in our broken world. When Helping Hurts will help the hurting - and us as well."

- Dr. Ronald Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action

"From the early pages, where the authors promptly and humbly confess how they have 'messed up' in their own efforts to alleviate poverty, to the last chapters where their vast experience and on-the-street wisdom show through so helpfully, this is a book that wonderfully combines heavy-duty thinking with practical tools. As a journalist, I appreciate the authors' story-telling and descriptive abilities. As a churchman, I appreciate their zeal to root all strategies in the institution God has ordained to bring about His goals. No donor should invest another dollar in any kind of relief effort before digesting the last page of this important book."

- Joel Belz, Founder and writer, World Magazine

"Becoming more and more aware of the poverty in the world, the North American church is responding and ministering to the poor in unprecedented numbers. But this is easier said than done, as poverty is a complex problem. Good intentions are not enough, for faulty assumptions can result in strategies that do considerable harm. If churches truly want to help, this book is a must-read. It presents a biblically based framework for understanding poverty and its alleviation. The principles and strategies will help the church build an effective ministry for a hurting world, both at home and abroad."

- Dr. Paul Kooistra, Executive Director of Mission to the World

In the next post I will begin dealing with the structure and content of When Helping Hurts.

1 comment:

Belle Geary said...


I look forward to your thoughts on this book and would like to eventually read it myself. We have an outreach component to our business and are struggling with the best way to give the poor and underprivileged a hand-up without it becoming just another handout. There needs to be a balance in outreach that allows those being reached, not just the opportunity to move ahead but to feel they are in a real sense doing the work themselves. If that balance can be reached it would provide a real opportunity to speak about our faith and reliance on Jesus Christ.

God Bless,