“One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make—by far—”

Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have written a great book about serving the poor: EXCELLENT for advocates of cross-cultural partnerships

Here is additional material from When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Note: Since I am reading this book with a Kindle, I am referencing the book using the Amazon Kindle reference system which is by “location” rather than by page number.

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. (location 1507). One of the biggest mistakes that North American churches make—by far—is in applying relief in situations in which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention. (location 1527).

Our perspective should be less about how we are going to fix the materially poor and more about how we can walk together, asking God to fix both of us. (location 1168)

… poverty is rooted in the brokenness of human beings’ four foundational relationships … [relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation].

Unfortunately, as recent research has demonstrated, Caucasian evangelicals in the United States, for whom the systems has worked well, are particularly blind to the systemic causes of poverty and are quick to blame the poor for their plight. Evangelicals tend to believe that systemic arguments for poverty amount to shifting blame for personal sin and excusing moral failure. (location 1390)

Development is not to people or for people but with people. (location 1522)

Avoid paternalism. Do not do things for people that they can do for themselves. Memorize this, recite it under your breath all day long, and wear it like a garland around your neck. (location 1690)

[There are five kinds of paternalism: Resource paternalism, spiritual paternalism, knowledge paternalism, labor paternalism, managerial paternalism.] (location 1739)

There are situations in which a lack of local leadership and managerial ability may require the outsiders to perform these functions, but we should be very, very cognizant of our tendencies as middle- to upper-class North Americans to take charge and run things. (location 1755)

… many Christian community development experts have discovered the benefits of using “asset-based community development” (ABCD) as they seek to foster reconciliation of people’s relationship with God, self, others, and creation. ABCD is consistent with the perspective that God has blessed every individual and community with a host of gifts, including such diverse things as land, social networks, knowledge, animals, savings, intelligence, schools, creativity, production equipment, etc. (location 1822)

If you are involved in cross-cultural partnerships which serve the poor, I cannot recommend this book highly enough: When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.


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