When Helping Hurts

Kevin DeYoung has put up a three part look at the book When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourselfby Brian Fikkert. It looks like a good book to read for guidance as we attempt to take on the job of loving people like we should love them.

When Helping Hurts part 1
When Helping Hurts part 2
When Helping Hurts part 3

the key piece of the puzzle comes in part 2:

In my opinion, Chapter 4 is the most important chapter in the book. Here Fikkert explains the three different approaches to poverty alleviation. The first is relief. Relief is the urgent, temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce immediate suffering. The second is rehabilitation. Rehabilitation begins once “the bleeding stops.” It seeks to restore people and communities to the positive elements of their pre-crisis conditions. The third approach is development. Development is the process of ongoing change that moves all people involved (“helpers” and “helped”) closer to being in a right relationship with God, self, others, and creation.

If you don’t ever read the book, or get anything else of these blog posts, try to remember the differences between relief, rehabilitation, and development. When North American churches think of helping the poor, they almost always think in terms of relief. This, says Fikkert, is “by far” the biggest mistake our churches continue to make.


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