When Helping Hurts
- Product Review (submitted on March 4, 2010):
Battling poverty is an important issue for Christians to think about. Our goal, without a doubt, shoudl be the complete elimination of poverty. However, many have limited the gospel to just the call to eliminate poverty and other social needs. The rise of the social gospel has caused many Christians to forget about the poor. What we need is a complete gospel that keeps our eyes on the cross and at the same time our hands in serving one another, including the poor.
I recently had the opportunity to read "When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . And Ourselves," by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. The authors lay out the issues, the problems, and possible solutions for fighting poverty. One of their main concerns, as the title suggest, is how Christians, out of their good intentions, try to help but end up hurting the poor. The authors show that just by giving hand outs, many are encouraging the poor to stay in their poverty rather than rise out of it.
The authors do not limit their study to just America, but are concerned with world poverty. With many examples and illustrations, the authors show how many of the common attempts by Christians and Christian organizations actually keep people in their poverty. Our goal should not to be to just simply give to the poor, but help the poor rise out of their poverty.
What I liked most about the book was its theology. The authors take the time walking us through the gospel and redemptive history to show why we have poverty and why many of our attempts to help do not help. There is much discussion on issues like sin, the Fall, and the gospel as the authors lay out their ideas for ending poverty. This is the only book I have ever read on the subject that show how the gospel meets our demand (with practical results) to help the poor. The gospel and Scripture lies at the center of the author's words and for that reason, we should take their ideas and critiques seriously.
I had the opportunity to listen to the book through a digital download through christianaudio.com of which I was blessed with the opportunity to download for free. Though the book was overall very well written, I have to honestly admit that the narrator (Danny Campbell) struggled to keep my attention. Of the books that I have downloaded and listened to through the excellent Christian audio book site, this was probably narrated the worse. No offense to Mr. Campbell.
Overall, the book was well written and I encourage every Christian to take this book seriously. Christians need to reconnect the issue of poverty with right theology. The fight against poverty is first and foremost a gospel issue, not an issue for politicians and bad doctrines. The authors point us in the right direction standing on a firm foundation.