Have you ever wondered if the help you extend to another actually helped them long-term or perhaps actually hurt their development into the person that God intends for them?  Was your charity empowering to their development of did it cause an unhealthy dependence and reinforce a low sense of self-worth?

Several of our staff at Habitat Wake have been studying the book, When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, together and finding it to be very helpful and challenging.  I’m encouraged that this book can be a game-changer within the Church as we seek to reach out to our materially poor neighbors.

The book is written for an evangelical Christian audience and makes the case that as followers of Jesus, we indeed are called to help those lacking in material resources.  The book suggests that poverty is a complex concept and that various circumstances dictate what a genuinely uplifting response would be.

The authors identify four key relationships that human beings rely upon and they suggest that there is a poverty that results from brokenness in any of these relationships.  They are:

  • Relationship with God
  • Relationship with Self
  • Relationship with Others
  • Relationship with the Rest of Creation

The book suggests that every human being is poor in the sense of not experiencing these four relationships in the way God intended.  For some people the brokenness in these foundational relationships results in material poverty.

We are learning together to look more deeply at the root causes of poverty and to make our organizational decisions in a way that truly “comes alongside” those who are materially poor in a way that celebrates their being created by God and the restoration of those essential relationships while we address our own brokenness and the restoration that lies ahead for us.

I highly recommend the book for individual and group study within the church context.  I’m encouraged in the popularity of this book that Christians are looking seriously at their call to reach out to those in need in ways that are truly worthy of the One who calls us.