Welcome to Week One of reading and blogging through When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. A dozen or so of us, on various sides of the world, are reading a chapter of this book each week and then discussing and sharing ideas in various ways. Some of us will be blogging our way through it. It’s not too late to join the fun/learning! So, go grab a copy for yourself if it sounds interesting! This week we read the Introduction section, so it really wouldn’t be hard to catch up!
Those of us reading the book in THIS part of the world got together last night and had a great discussion, picking each other’s brains and learning from each other’s ideas as we talked over some of the questions brought up in the book. It’s amazing to me how much I’ve learned in the last couple of years and it’s a bit of a bummer to think about how many well-intended mistakes I’d made before the learning began. I’m sure that I still make mistakes all the time but I’m becoming more and more aware. And thus the reading of the book.
North American Christians are simply not doing enough. We are the richest people ever to walk the face of the earth. Period. Yet, most of us live as though there is nothing terribly wrong in the world. We attend our kids’ soccer games, pursue our careers, and take beach vacations while 40 percent of the world’s inhabitants struggle just to eat every day. And in our own backyards, the homeless, those residing in ghettos and a wave of immigrants live in a world outside the economic and social mainstream of North America. We do not necessarily need to feel guilty about our wealth. But we do need to get up every morning with a deep sense that something is terribly wrong with the world and yearn and strive to do something about it. There is simply not enough yearning and striving going on.
I really appreciated these words. They hit me with a great sense of responsibility. I am rich… maybe not according to American standards, but according to global standards.
I’ve seen poverty around the world. I’ve seen faces of some of those 40 percent who struggle to eat every day. In fact, even here in my Asia home… Yesterday, I went into the city to spend a day doing some work at Starbucks. I walked by beggars who likely own next to nothing, and I thought about the contents of the tote-bag under my arm: my laptop, my kindle, my ipod. That’s over $1,000 US worth of electronics that I use everyday, and carry around under my arm – like it’s no big deal. I wondered how long it takes people like the beggars I see on the street to earn $1,000. And I’ve seen many people even “worse off.” Faces that are embedded into my heart’s memory. I have a responsibility to them/to God.
Knowing how little so many have… It’s easy for me to feel GUILT about what I have, but that is not the point or God’s desire. We do not necessarily need to feel guilty about what we have… about our wealth. BUT we DO need to feel a deep sense of responsibility to YEARN (care deeply) and STRIVE (work hard) to change the things that are terribly wrong in the world. It is WRONG for us to go on with our lives like everything is fine and dandy. It isn’t. And maybe sometimes I do need to live more simply than I do. I certainly do WANT to help alleviate poverty more than I am today.
The authors point out that there has been an increase in the last couple of decades with believers reaching beyond themselves through short term overseas trips and local ministry but they also inform the readers that sometimes…
… when North American Christians do attempt to alleviate poverty, the methods used often do considerable harm to both the materially poor and the materially non-poor. Our concern is not just that these methods are wasting human, spiritual, financial, and organizational resources but that these methods are actually exacerbating the problems they are trying to solve.
Fortunately, there is hope, because God is at work.
I don’t know about you but I really do not want to exacerbate the problems I am hoping to help solve! So, I’m excited to learn from the pages of this book and from discussions with friends along on the journey!
Speaking of them, the following are planning on posting about the chapters of this book also. Feel free to click around and DISCUSS.
Anissa @ Oasis, Brittany @ His grace displayed, Jon @ Hands Wide Open, Kacie @ The Well Thought-Out Life, Kirsten @ Kung Phu Panda, Scott and Christine @ We Are His Hands … and maybe some others!
(Our goal is to post every week about our chapter by Sunday… but ya know, sometimes that may not happen. And with this week being an intro, who knows! But stay tuned and join in! I can add you to the list.)