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When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself Paperback – April 20, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 495 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

I can honestly report that When Helping Hurts is the single best book I've seen on this topic. Although this book will make many readers uncomfortable, it quickly offers hope in the form of understandable, feasible new strategies that better grasp the dignity and promise of the materially poor. It deserves a #1 spot on the reading list of every Christian who wants to follow Jesus in a genuine, mutually transforming love of neighbor.
-Amy L. Sherman, PhD, senior fellow and director, Sagamore Institute Center on Faith in Communities, author, Restorers of Hope

What an opportunity evangelicals have to make a difference in our world through the church. Corbett and Fikkert build on the growing momentum of holistic witness that's sweeping our country and globe and 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.
-Dr. Ronald J. Sider, president, Evangelicals for Social Action, author, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger

How can a local church make a difference, and how do individual Christians meaningfully reflect Christ's grace, when the disparities of wealth and power in our world are so great? When Helping Hurts explores biblical principles in terms of real-life situations to offer real help and grace-filled answers for such questions.
-Bryan Chappell, president, Covenant Theological Seminary

When Helping Hurts wonderfully combines heavy-duty thinking with practical tools. 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

Churches in North America will find this a helpful way to educate congregations and then motivate them to action, both globally and in their neighborhoods.
-Bryant Myers, PhD, professor of International Development, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary

A clarion call to rethink how we apply the gospel to a broken world. This book will transform our good intentions into genuine, lasting change.
-Stephen J. Baumann, senior vice president, World Relief

From the Back Cover

Good Intentions Are Not Enough

Unleashing and equipping people to effectively help the poor requires repentance and the realization of our own brokenness. When Helping Hurts articulates a biblically based framework concerning the root causes of poverty and its alleviation.

A path forward is found, not through providing resources to the poor, but by walking with them in humble relationships.

Whether you're involved in short-term missions or the long-term empowerment of the poor, this book helps teach you three key areas:

·        Foundational Concepts Who are the poor?

·        Principles Should we do relief, rehabilitation, or development?

·        Strategies How can we help people effectively here and abroad?

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (April 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802457061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802457066
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (495 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #211,627 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If you've ever thought, "I want to help but I don't know how," then buy this book and read it right now. It is practical, encouraging, and full of ideas you've never heard before. Just last night a fire in my town displaced 200 residents from low-income housing. Because of this book, I now have a life-giving framework for thinking through how to help them.

My only caution is that you may get bogged down in some of the early "theory" chapters and decide that this book is not for you. This would be a huge mistake because in later chapters you get to see the theory in action. And in the long run, the theory is what you will remember and apply to your life. Keep reading, keep underlining, and keep praying. This book will bless your life.
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Having seen missioners make a terrible mess with the best of intentions, and surveyed the dependency culture up close, I regard this as essential reading for the Christian missioner. It will prevent you from breaking your own heart, and damaging the people you are trying to help.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The authors come from a unique angle to the issue of poverty. Brian Fikkert is an economist but has heart. Steve Corbett is a professor of community development. Both are Christians and approach this issue deeply rooted in that worldview. (And they are nice guys).

They start the book with an illustration of a doctor diagnosing the disease. If this process is done incorrectly the sickness will not better. The issue of poverty's solution depends on our definition of poverty. If you can't define the disease, then how do you know it's cure. The bottom line, according to the authors, is traditionally western society sees poverty as a thinly sliced issue--people lack material resources. There is so much more to the problem and simply giving money isn't the solution. We need to see poverty as in terms of relationships with God, self, others and the rest of creation. Sin has broken our relationships with those four areas. The materially poor need a relational solution, not merely money.

Turkeys and toys are not the solution. Providing these "gifts" can exploit the biggest sense of need of the material poor. Our helping in providing material gifts can push them deeper into poverty of character and self-worth. So our help can and often does hurt. It makes the materially rich feel good can hurt the materially poor in the long run.

We need to work WITH the materially poor and not TO them. It's not a blueprint or recipe approach to finding "what works" in one setting and reproducing it in the next. There are no easy solutions.

According to the authors the poor see there issue in terms of shame and pain rather than a lack of money. When you tell your kids there is no food tonight, the poor don't merely see that as a food issue.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Having lived and worked in Southeast Asia as a humanitarian development worker, I have seen my share of development/humanitarian work done poorly and in contrast development work that has created long-term change. I have seen first hand the challenges agencies/development workers face working to help create sustainable change in the lives of the poor, despite best intentions . When Helping Hurts is by far one of the most concise, pragmatic, powerful books on how to work with the poor without creating dependency. I would list this book along-side The White Man's Burden and Walking With the Poor as a must read for anyone wanting to work with the poor, whether in a western context or in a third-world context.
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Format: Paperback
In When Helping Hurts, authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert helpfully remind the reader that, when it comes to helping those in need, "good intentions are not enough" because "it is possible to hurt poor people, and ourselves, in the process of trying to help them" (p. 16). The book is intended to answer this problem by offering a guide to poverty alleviation that is grounded in the gospel as well as sound economic principles.

After a brief introduction offering an example of why a book like this is necessary (pp. 21-27), part 1 (pp. 31-95) provides the biblical-theological rationale for the type of poverty alleviation that is being advocated. Chapter 1 concerns the gospel and the church's mission. Chapters 2 and 3 then offer a biblical framework for understanding poverty and its causes. Part 2 (pp. 97-148) focuses on general economic principles. Parts 3 and 4 (pp. 149-249) offer practical guidance and strategies for those hoping to put the principles learned in parts 1 and 2 into practice.

When Helping Hurts is to be commended for several reasons. First of all, the authors rightly recognize that discipleship, just as much as evangelism, is a part of the church's mission, and they also understand that training "in a biblical worldview that understands the implications of Christ's lordship for all of life" is an essential element of discipleship (p 45, see also pp. 79-83, 90-93).

The book's critique of the popular (wasteful) model of doing short-term missions is also on target (pp. 160-163). In many cases, STMs are little more than sanctified vacations that do more harm than good.
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