When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself. By: Steve Corbett
Reviews of this book have made the circles of other groups related to the readership of Every Thought Captive—that’s how I heard about it. And now you should too, if you haven’t already.
What we have here in Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert’s book is a pretty thorough treatment of how we are blowing the Good Samaritan idea/ideal. If you are like me, you are just this side of all those Miss America contestants who, “Just want to relieve all the suffering that is in the world.” After reading the first 50 pages I was thinking that all my efforts over the years in trying to accomplish this were about as effective as a swim suit competition.
I have been involved in Rescue Missions, soup kitchens, food distribution, voter registration, and short-term foreign missions. I have picked up hitch-hikers, passed out sandwiches, and given money to those guys carrying signage stating that they will work for food.
We all want to know what to do when we are approached by a pan-handler or when a “needy” person shows up at church, or when we drive by a low-income housing project.
“Something ought to be done”, is right, but what? Often what is done is not only a phenomenal waste of money, energy, time, creativity, strategy and manpower; it actually makes matters worse for everyone involved—them and us.
Recently, during a visit with a good friend of mine, I joined in with his church in a combination evangelizing-the-lost-while-feeding-the-hungry outreach. All the Christian sincerity in the world could not morph this activity to resemble anything in the Bible. I knew this after reading, When Helping Hurts.
What made this all worse was that before this already scheduled project, I shared with my friend what I had recently learned. Yeah, we were but miserable. I’m convinced that we would have done more for the Kingdom by going out and shooting some pool instead.
The authors share plenty of their own experiences along with illustrations of what others have done in trying to help the poor and needy. The writing is honest and straight-up from guys who still want to be involved in restoring brokenness and reestablishing lives of the down and outters. A reliance on God’s help and a success by relying on His word is the goal here.
Each chapter starts with a set of diagnostic questions that facilitates a better understanding of what needs to be done for the needy.
Some of the successful ministry options border on governmental involvement. I don’t like that. But the overall content is a great place to start in overhauling our ideology and practice in charity and good works.
So you really should get this book. Buy a copy for your pastor, your session, your deacons and for any one that is always setting up harmful, wasteful projects for the people of your church to “get involved”; especially if that person is you.