OUCH! When Helping Hurts

Giving a buck to the guy on the corner. Blanketing a neighborhood with an ongoing cadence of quick hit mission teams. Constantly providing meals to the same people for years. To be sure all this is help…but often it is help that ultimately hurts. It’s like giving Tylenol for head pain to someone who has a tumor. It only addresses the symptoms. In their book When helping Hurts authors Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert address faulty assumptions about poverty and then commend an approach that flows out of the work of the gospel to restore four key relationships…in all of us.

Good Intentions Are Not Enough
Churches and individual Christians often have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty — assumptions that many times lead to ministry strategies that do considerable harm to poor people as well as to themselves. “When Helping Hurts” addresses these assumptions and offers several principles and strategies for poverty alleviation, including:

  • the distinction between relief, rehabilitation, and development
  • the difference between asset-based and needs-based strategies
  • the advantages of participatory over blueprint approaches

Last Saturday four of us (Kevin, Clete, Paul, me) had the privilege of attending the authors’ Helping Without Hurting Seminar in Holland, Michigan. Tonight (Wednesday December 7) Paul Hendryx will provide an hourlong overview of the book and seminar. Last night he went through his presentation with a few of us and it is going to be good stuff. Contact me if you would like to attend.

As you can see we had a pretty good time on this overnight trip – my stomach still hurts from laughing. I price-lined a one star room for $35. The beds were “full-size” so it was funny watching Clete & Paul try to maintain a 3 foot neutral zone on a 4 1/2 foot foot wide bed. We toured the host church facility during the breaks (not quite the Compaq Center but close) and were able to “go” to the beach & on a buggy ride. Well actually only Clete on the latter.

I’ve also included pics from the conference, hanging with some Free Church bros yesterday, and my corner after a recent snowfall. Oh yeah, restoration just began on the house we are purchasing! Please pray work is completed by February. And pray for the Bontrager’s closing on December 20.



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