“Embracing our mutual brokenness”

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have contributed greatly to the literature of cross-cultural partnership

I just got an Amazon Kindle for Christmas and one of the first books I bought for my new e-reader is: When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.

This book is EXCELLENT! An excerpt:

One of the major premises of this book is that until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good. As discussed earlier, research from around the world has found that shame—a “poverty of being”—is a major part of the brokenness that low-income people experience in their relationship with themselves. Instead of seeing themselves as being created in the image of God, low-income people often feel they are inferior to others. This can paralyze the poor from taking initiative and from seizing opportunities to improve their situation, thereby locking them into material poverty.

At the same time, the economically rich—including the readers of this book—also suffer from a poverty of being. In particular, development practitioner Jayakumar Christian argues that the economically rich often have “god-complexes,” a subtle sense of superiority in which they believe that they have achieved their wealth through their own efforts and that they have been anointed to decide what is best for low-income people, whom they view as inferior to themselves.[1]

In serving a cross-cultural partnership, having the attitude of Christlike servanthood is crucial. “Embracing our mutual brokenness” is one of the attitudes that makes this possible.

1. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert: When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself (Chicago: Moody Press, 2009) Chapter 2, subsection 5, “When Helping Hurts,” paragraphs 1 and 2. The authors reference Jayakumar Christian: Powerlessness of the Poor: Toward an Alternative Kingdom of God Based Paradigm of Response (Pasadena, CA: Fuller Theological Seminary Ph.D. Thesis, 1994)


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