Helping That Doesn’t Really Help

Featured Photo Above: Scott’s Bluff, OR
Page Edited and Reposted: 11/7/17

Title: “When Helping Hurts”  

Authors: Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert   (2009)

Sub-Title: How To Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself.

“Have you ever done anything to hurt poor people? Most of you would probably answer no to this question, but the reality is that you’ve may have done considerably harm to poor people in the very process of trying to help them. The federal government made this mistake for decades. Well-intentioned welfare programs penalize work, undermine families, and created dependence  The government hurt the very people it was trying to help. Unfortunately, the same is true for many Christian ministries today. By focusing on symptoms rather than on the underlying disease, we are often hurting the very people we are trying to help. So privately, we’ve also are hurting ourselves in the process.” (Dr. John Perkins. p12)

“Prior to the 20th century, evangelical Christians played a large role in ministering to the physical and spiritual needs of the poor. However, all this changed at the start of the 20th century as evangelicals battled theological liberals over the fundamental tenets of Christianity. Evangelicals interpreted the rising social gospel movement, which seemed to equate all humanitarian efforts with bringing in Christ’s kingdom, as part of the overall theological drift of the nation. As evangelicals try to distance themselves from the social gospel movement, they ended up in large–scale retreat from the frontline of poverty alleviation. The shift away from the poor was so dramatic that church historians referred to the 1900–1930 era as the “Great Reversal” in the evangelical church’s approach to social problems.” [George Marsden, Fundamentalism and American Culture. 1980]  “In short, the evangelical church’s retreat from poverty alleviation was fundamentally due to shifts in theology and not–as many have asserted–to government programs that drove the church away from ministry to the poor.  … Theology matters, and the church need to rediscover a Christ–centered, fully orbed perspective of the kingdom of God.”  (p45)

“Defining poverty is not simply an academic exercise, for the way we define poverty–either implicitly or explicitly–plays a major role in determining the solutions we use in our attempts to alleviate that poverty. . . If we treat only the symptoms or if we misdiagnose the underlying problem, we will not improve [a person’s] situation, and we might actually make their lives worse.”  See Isaiah 58:10.  [p54]

“God established four basic relationships for each individual: a relationship with God , with self, with others, and with the rest of creation.  These four relationships are the basic building blocks for all of life.  ‘When they are functioning properly, humans experience the fullness of life that God intended because we are being what God created us to be.’ … ‘Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not for life, that are not harmonious or enjoyable. Poverty is the absence of shalom in all its meanings.’  . . . Due to the comprehensive nature of the fall, every human being is poor in the sense of not experiencing these four relationships in the way that God intended.”   [Bryant Myers, Walking With the Poor, 1990] (p57-62)

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[The Source of this Chart has been lost. Click to enlarge or copy and print]

Helping That Helps

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