How to Help the Poor Without Hurting Them ... or Yourself
Poverty is much more than simply a lack of material resources, and it takes much more than donations and handouts to solve it. When Helping Hurts shows how some alleviation efforts, failing to consider the complexities of poverty, have actually (and unintentionally) done more harm than good. But it looks ahead. It encourages us to see the dignity in everyone, to empower the materially poor, and to know that we are all uniquely needy—and that God in the gospel is reconciling all things to Himself. Read an excerpt of this challenging book and register to hear author Steve Corbett at Compassion Conference, July 14-16. The average North American enjoys a standard of living that has been unimaginable for most of human history. Meanwhile, 40 percent of earth’s inhabitants eke out an existence on less than two dollars per day. And from inner-city ghettos to rural Appalachia, poverty continues to inflict pain, loss, and despair on the North American content itself. Indeed, the economic and social disparity between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is on the rise both within North America and between North America and much of the Majority World (Africa, Asia, and Latin America).
If you are a North American Christian, the reality of our society’s vast wealth presents you with an enormous responsibility, for throughout Scriptures God’s people are commanded to show compassion to the poor. In fact, doing so is simply part of our job description as followers of Jesus Christ (Matt. 25:31-46). While the biblical call to care for the poor transcends time and place, passages such as 1 John 3:17 should weigh particularly heavy on the minds and hearts of North American Christians: “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?”
There is no place in the Bible that indicates that poverty is a desirable state or that material things are evil. In fact, wealth is viewed as a gift from God. The point is simply that, for His own glory, God has chosen to reveal His kingdom in the place where the world, in all of its pride, would least expect it, among the foolish, the weak, the lowly, and the despised. … Theology matters, and the church needs to rediscover a Christ-centered, fully orbed perspective of the kingdom.