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Steve Corbett is the community development specialist for the Chalmers Center at Covenant College and an assistant professor in the department of economic and community development at Covenant College. Brain Fikkert is a professor of economics at Covenant College and the founder and president of mostra'n més the Chalmers Center at Covenani College. mostra'n menys
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This book provides such a thorough look at how we can help those in poverty, and fleshes out why sometimes we do more harm than good. It serves as a reminder that we need to be giving more, but in ways that are wise and culturally appropriate.

I loved that the authors constantly referred back to the "ultimate" goal for Material Poverty Alleviation, which is defined as: "Working to reconcile the four foundational relationships [with God, Self, Others, and the Rest of Creation] so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of their work."

The definition of paternalism as "doing for someone what they can do for themselves" really stuck with me, as this can be applied within all sorts of cultural and economic situations, whether a family member, neighbor here in my community, or someone in a far-off country that I have or haven't met.

I would recommend that every Christian in North America read this book, as a way of developing better stewardship of the funds and abilities that God has entrusted to us, and to those that we desire to serve.
… (més)
RachelRachelRachel | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Nov 21, 2023 |
When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert is a book I set my sites on some time ago but thinking it may be a load of tosh I put off reading it. That is, until I received a verbal recommendation from a trusted relative I then decided it was time to dig in. As it turns out it is not a load of rubbish but rather a well thought out analysis of how we as individual Christians, churches, and parachurch organizations have failed, often miserably, at assisting the poor and alleviating poverty and how to address these issues.

From the back cover we learn what we can expect from the book

Foundation Concepts – Who are the poor?
Principles – Should we do relief, rehabilitation or development?
Strategies – How can we help people here and abroad?

And that is the thrust of the work. These three points are fleshed out by the authors.

The book begins with a short history of how we, primarily North American Christians, got to where we are now. What happened between 1900 and 1930 that changed how we address poverty alleviation and why we are failing miserably at addressing it? Why is a Biblical world view important to the methodology of helping the poor?

Next we find out what the poor think of our efforts to help them. Its entirely possible we fail as we have no clue how other cultures, even sub-cultures within our own culture, think emotionally and politically of their plight. Failure to recognize these distinctions cause our failures in assisting the poor and therefore our evangelism. From our North American point of view are we really helping the poor or just making ourselves feel better by thinking we have? Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, with God and each other, not in financial or material wealth. Only Jesus can fix that.

In chapter 4 we begin to get into the real meat of the work. Help comes in three forms according to the authors: Relief, rehabilitation, and development. Failure to recognize these three and implement them as needed or in correct order can do more harm than good. Many churches and organizations, for example, start and stop with relief. That is, providing immediate help for a need. Though necessary it falls short of providing for the long term needs of the person or persons in need. The authors flesh this out clearly and define what steps, relief, rehabilitation, and development, to take at appropriate times.

Of chapter 7 I took special note. Short term mission trips (STM) have always left me wondering how effective they can be. How can a group of people who blow into town for only a week or two expect to provide any long lasting good? Indeed, they can be helpful as the authors explain however they are often not for several reasons the authors lay out. If only relief is provided the STM is doomed to failure. Development is often what is needed and that can’t be done in a two week STM. In helping the poor we must be in it for the long haul by helping the local churches and organizations in the area as necessary.

The authors continue and conclude with concrete strategies to help the poor in numerous ways and especially spiritually. The issue is often, "Finding armies of people to volunteer one Saturday to paint dilapidated houses is easy. Finding people to love the people who live in those houses is extremely difficult" (pg. 210). We must take the time to walk and love these folks for the long term. Are you ready? Am I ready?

This is a justifiable read. The authors are intelligent and experienced. Expert analysis, true life accounts, and clear strategies are provided. I wholeheartedly commend When Helping Hurts .
… (més)
freakindeacon | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | May 8, 2021 |
Cómo aliviar la pobreza, Sin hacer daño a necesitado ni a uno mismo.
Jorgeprado | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Mar 1, 2019 |
When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty
Without Hurting the Poor” by Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert.

“Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt
Those They Help” by Robert Lupton

Here are two books about giving and serving. They
both cover what is helpful giving and serving and
what are unhelpful (even harmful) ways of giving
and serving. How do we as Christians serve and
help the poor, who, we read in Scripture, are
very dear to God's heart? Scripture also tells us
whatever we do for the least of our brethren, we
do for Jesus. How do we live out God's heart?
These two Presbyterian authors share what they have learned.

The first book by Corbett & Fikkert is aimed
primarily at evangelicals. Both Corbett & Fikkert
work for the Chalmers Center for Economic
Development which helps churches minister to the
economic, spiritual and social needs of the poor.
The book's points spring out of an understanding
of Jesus' purpose, voiced by Jesus in Luke
4:17-21, part of what we have been looking at in
the current NCF teaching series:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has
anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the
prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to
set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

In addition, Corbett & Fikkert's theological
framework is that both God and man are
relational. When mankind is in good relationship
with God, self, others and the rest of creation
that effects the world's systems (political,
economic, social and religious) in a positive
way, enabling man to live out his calling of
glorifying God and enjoying Him forever. When
these relationships are broken, however, that
effects the world's systems negatively, creating
all types of poverties: poverty of being (low
self esteem on the one hand, or God complexes on
the other), poverty of community (self-centered
and or exploitative/abusing/using others),
poverty of spiritual intimacy (denying God or
worshipping false gods/spirits such as
materialism), and poverty of stewardship (loss of
purpose, materialism, ground cursed,
laziness/workaholism). They do make clear that
they do not believe in the health/wealth gospel,
the notion, that if you are in right relationship
with God, you will be blessed with wealth and
health. Enough said on their theological
framework, which is a bit too formulaic for me.

Robert Lupton is a practitioner of urban
community development ministries and writes out
of his experience of working primarily in the
poor urban areas of Atlanta. Though he certainly
targets his critiques of giving/helping at
Christians and churches, his critique is wider,
applying also to general charity, NGOs, even governmental aid.

Both books agree that too much of church giving
is aimed at relief, which both say, should only
be used immediately after a disaster. In the case
of disasters, giving should quickly move from
relief to rehabilitation and in the case of
chronic poverty, both books agree, that
relief-type giving is not only inappropriate, but
harmful. Chronic poverty alleviation requires a
community development approach to have a long-term positive impact.

Why is relief-giving harmful to those in chronic poverty?

– One-way giving diminishes the dignity of those on the receiving end

– Paternalistic (in terms of resources,
spirituality, knowledge, labor, management). The
giver assumes s/he knows better than the receiver
what the receiver needs and how they need to be
helped. There is often a North American God-complex in play.

– Doesn't involve the receiver in finding a
solution to his/her poverty (dis-empowering)

– Creates dependency, destroys initiative and work ethics

– Is often more about the givers feeling good
about what they are doing, than whether they are actually helping.

– Assumes all poverty can be fixed by material resources.

– Fails to address systemic reasons for poverty

– Undermines local leadership

– Can create shame in fathers (who can't provide
the nice Christmas gifts that others bring their children)

– Often ignores local resources (businesses,
workers) which could be part of the solution

– Assumes short-term fixes actually help

What does community development look like?

– Listens to the local community and lets the community come up with solutions

– Relational, takes time

– Asset-based – looks at what the community has
rather than what it doesn't have

– Works with local leadership

– Entrepreneurial – understands local resources
and how to use them; enables dreams to come to
fruition; builds on the capacity of local
entrepreneurs. (In our university setting we tend
to think of entrepreneurs as high-tech business
people. In the context of working with the poor
in a community development model it means any
type of viable (and legal) business, whether that
is sewing clothing, new, better ways to raise
crops (in rural areas) or small local businesses
that can begin to effect the local economy positively.

– Works on teaching job skills AND creating jobs.

On short-term missions

Both books agree that short-term missions can do
a lot of harm in the name of doing good.

– Most short-term missions are relief work.

– They often are providing services that local people could do.

– Often not invested in learning what the
receivers really want (often bringing their own
ideas of how things should get done.)

– Incredibly expensive for what they accomplish
(a monetary gift for the amount spent on the trip would go much, much farther)

– One-way learning, generally, for the short-term
mission team, but not for the receivers.

– One-way giving

Lupton says stop doing short-term missions, or at
least stop calling them missions and call them
learning vacations! Corbett agrees, but thinks
that with a lot of thought and education before
the short-term mission, and followup training the
year after the short-term mission, there could be
some good ways to do short-term missions. But
Corbett says about short-term missions that it
should be clear they are about learning
experiences, not saving the world. Ie. The
mission teams are making a difference for
themselves by learning, not so much by their serving the poor.

On Microfinancing (an outside provider that can make small loans to locals)

Lupton thinks microfinancing works great where
people have a strong work ethic. He's says it
doesn't work very well in the U.S., except with
first generation immigrants. He writes
extensively about some really good experiences of
both microfinancing and community development in a community in Nicaragua.

Corbett adds that microfinancing also doesn't
work in places where the people taking out the
small loans don't believe the lender will be
there for the long-term. He also says microloans
also don't help the extreme poor, only the
moderate poor and vulnerable non-poor (those a
paycheck away from poverty.) He cautions that
church and missionary-managed microlending
attempts have met with lots of failures.

Corbett favors what he calls Savings and Credit
Associations (SCA) which have the advantage of
not requiring outside money, as does
microfinancing, and provide a vehicle for both
loans and savings. They can make even smaller
loans than microfinancing lenders, so can help
the extreme poor, are workable in both urban and
rural areas, and loans can also be used for
non-business needs such as household needs. He
said this model was actually developed by the
poor and cites the God's Compassion Church in
Manilla, Philippines that has a very successful SCA.

Corbett also says microfinancing institutions
(MFI) partnered with local churches (as opposed
to run by local churches) can be a very good
partnership, addressing needs together in a holistic way.

Finally Corbett talks about Business as Ministry
(BAM) also known as “tent making” as a way to
create jobs in an impoverished area.

Micah 6:8 says “he has shown you, O mortal, what
is good. And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Lupton says “Mercy without justice degenerates
into dependency and entitlement, preserving the
power of the giver over the recipient. Justice
without mercy is cold and impersonal, more
concerned about rights than relationships.” He
says we need to be “doing with” rather than
“doing for” those in need. The reality has been
the opposite. In our giving and serving we need
to be fostering “mutuality, reciprocity,
accountability” not just giving out stuff for free.

Can we reconcile such statements with statements in scripture such as … ?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice and untie the
cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry and
to provide the poor wanderer with shelter­
when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not
to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you, and
the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.

Isaiah 58:6-8

For I was hungry and you gave me something to
eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to
drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I
needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and
you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when
did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty
and give you something to drink? When did we see
you a stranger and invite you in, or needing
clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick
or in prison and go to visit you?''

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever
you did for one of the least of these brothers
and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25: 35-40

The practice of leaving the gleanings in the field for the poor to gather.

If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in
any of the towns of the land the Lord your God is
giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted
toward them. Rather, be openhanded and freely lend them whatever they need.

Deuteronomy 15:7-8 (In the context of the Jubilee year)

These two books give us a lot to think about and
MMJ has been wrestling with the ideas in these
books in both the giving we do on behalf of NCF
and in how we live out Jesus calling on our lives.

We are all familiar with the adage that you can
give a man a fish and feed him for a day or you
can teach a man to fish and feed him for a
lifetime. Another writer, Alexia Salvatierra,
says giving a man a fish is love, and teaching a
man to fish in intelligent love. Put poverty
isn't that simplistic. Sometimes the pond or lake
available for fishing in has been badly polluted.
Or that same pond or lake has been fenced and is
inaccessible. Structural inequities make dealing
with chronic poverty all the more complex.

It is smart to approach giving and serving in
such a way that we really are helping long-term
and not hurting. So on the one hand, we should
heed what these authors say. But we won't be able
to follow their recommendations perfectly. There
are times when there are needs, such as food and
we may give food. Jesus provided food to the
5,000. He met other needs as well, and asks us to
do the same. Where we can put into place a
community development model, by all means let's
do it. It makes a lot of sense. But there may be
times when we will do home repair for someone, or
help with a roof, or provide a bag of groceries,
or whatever the need is. That might be where we
start. It may lead to more “teaching a man to
fish”-type work later. Or we might have to work
on some of the structural inequalities first in
order to get to a place where “teaching a man to
fish” can actually do some good. Some of the
problems with poverty, unemployment, etc. in
urban areas stem from generations of inequities
(housing restrictions, job restrictions, quality
of schools, etc.) toward certain groups of
people. Outsourcing of jobs has also contributed
to these circumstances in a big way.

There may be some folks who will never be able to
get beyond needing a meal or bag of groceries and
others who will need that for just a time. Consider the following:

Low-income seniors

Recently laid off workers

Working poor (who work full-time but can't earn enough to make ends meet)

Low-income children

On disability (unable to work)

Family that's been hit by health crisis and huge doctor/hospital bills

Folks with untreated or untreatable mental health disorders that can't work

Let's keep in mind the principles that these two
books teach about good giving/serving vs. harmful
giving/serving. Let our giving/serving be
mindful. Let us strive to give and serve in
helpful, not hurtful ways. But at the same time,
let's not get overly stressed if we find certain
situations, such as those above, where the
practices outlined in these books don't always
fit. Where they fit, use them; where they don't,
find another way. In both, follow Jesus and his example.
(Carolyn Vance)
… (més)
NCFChampaign | Hi ha 20 ressenyes més | Dec 4, 2017 |


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