When Helping Hurts | read together ch. 4


So, I’ve actually finished reading W.H.H. by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, but I’m pretty much WAY behind in the blogging. I have a feeling though that no one is really waiting on the edge of their seats. But, I’ll just keep the posts coming as I have time. :)

I wrote this post for chapter 4 like a week ago but it turned out to be more of a book report than an actual discussion. I don’t like that. It’s not really the point. So today, I changed it a tad but it’s still kind of reportish. I just don’t feel like really rewriting. If I do, I’ll never finish blogging through the book. So, here’s what I have. I’ll try to do better next time. ;)

TODAY: CHAPTER 4 – “Not All Poverty Is Created Equal”

We’ve decided we want to help. We want to do it in an ACTUALLY helpful way. So, how do we know what that is? This chapter gives us a good starting point:

A helpful first step in thinking about working with the poor in any context is to discern whether the situation calls for relief, rehabilitation, or development.

What are the differences? Relief is “stopping the bleeding” in a crisis. In this situation, the person/community is basically unable to help themselves. Rehabilitation happens after the bleeding has stopped, helping people to get back to where they were before the crisis hit. Development is a long process of empowering people to be “more of what God created them to be.” These changes – the becoming more of who God wants us to be – happens to everyone involved – the helper and the helped. [Remember, we are ALL broken. Just in different ways.]

Relief is probably the one of the 3 that more people focus on most. It is also the one that is done at the wrong time in the wrong place most often and the one that can cause the most damage when done inappropriately. In many ways, relief is the “easiest.” People go in, stop the bleeding and it’s “done.” It’s easier to complete a project than to live in relationship that is required for rehabilitation and development. I’m not saying relief is bad… It’s very very good when it’s NEEDED. But often times we do this in times, places, and situations when people are in NEED of rehabilitation or development. Why is this SO important? Because…

Relief efforts applied inappropriately often cause the beneficiaries to abstain from work, thereby limiting their relationship with God through distorted worship or through no worship at all.

When we keep putting band-aids on problems instead of helping people to be equipped to take care of it themselves, we are hurting them and their ability to have the relationships they were created to have with God and others.

Rehabilitation and development take a lot of… time… effort… knowledge…commitment… messiness…  willingness to have our own lives changed.  It takes NOT have an “I-am-here-to-save-you” attitude.

The gist of this all is that helping to alleviate poverty has no quick fix. Oh how we all wish it did, right? But it takes time. Lots of it. It takes relationships. Deep ones. It takes taking the time to understand a culture. It takes asking the right questions. It takes a constant recognition that the person you are helping is made in the image of God, just like we are. It takes remembering that we are ALL broken, though in different ways. It takes humility. And it takes responsibility to choose to do it well.

Thankfully, I’ve had some great examples of this in my life. I didn’t know how good of examples I had until I started reading this book. I’ve also had some bad examples too. Later… eventually… I’ll probably talk more about both of those.

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