When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Yourself

by Steve Corbett, Brian Fikkert. Moody Publishers, 2014.
Large when helping hurts

Poverty is a real and complex issue for persons of faith, whether it’s in their backyard or on the other side of the world. This book is a frank analysis of poverty from a social science and community development perspective, which sets out to lay a foundation for long term economic empowerment. It begins with a biblical overview of poverty from an evangelical Christian perspective. The poor are not only poor, they are also people. Both the poor person and the person who is called to help deserve human respect and dignity. Beyond immediate needs necessary for survival, the way to lasting help is to begin with assets the poor may have and work to develop these using what the authors call “micro-development”. This entails a broad array of analysis, training, partnering, manufacturing and development. The book is filled with helpful suggestions, conversation starters, planning exercises, and additional reading opportunities. It should be noted that the book can be startling and controversial at times. But, keeping the long-view in mind provides the reader with some intriguing possibilities. Congregations might wish to use this book as a study guide for poverty issues or a resource for determining anti-poverty programs to support.