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When Helping Hurts


When Helping Hurts
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Churches and individual Christians typically have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, resulting in the use of strategies that do considerable harm to poor people and themselves. "When Helping Hurts" provides foundational concepts, clearly articulated general principles and relevant applications. The result is an effective and holistic ministry to the poor, not a truncated gospel.

A situation is assessed for whether relief, rehabilitation, or development is the best response to a situation. Efforts are characterized by an "assest based" approach rather than a "needs based" approach. Short term mission efforts are addressed and microenterprise development (MED) is explored.

This is a 'must-read' for all who want to be effective in both North American and international missions. Suitable for Grades 7 and up.

Great Introduction to Poverty & Community development Issues.

The Key Keen insights:
For example -in the west we view poverty as a "lack" of resources, where as the poor use psychological terms to describe their situation - How it makes them feel ashamed, embarrassed, powerless etc.

Secondly - The authors highlight the three kinds of "Help" one can give - Relief, Restoration, Development. Unfortunately the westerners approach almost all we do from the "Relief" category. Very Damaging and has created serious dependency, and harm to local people.

Thirdly, another keen insight is reminding us to NEVER ask a community what their needs are. It makes them immediately define themselves by what they "LACK" This is negative and causes further depression as you highlight all they don't have. It sets the community development person up as the only provider from the outside, making the poor think they have little or nothing to offer- it must come from outside sources.

Rather ask; "What resources, skills, knowledge etc do you have at your disposal around you to bear on your family or community issues. Help them to focus that, and then maybe you might be a small part of that skill/knowledge/resource equation. However, this question begins with the people thinking about what is "right" with me and my community.

I recommend making it mandatory reading for all Christian field visitors, short -term mission teams (From grade 7 up) and missionaries who already are trying to do something, anything , to help poor families.

Read the book if you would like to begin helping the poor.
It's the perfect starter book on the subject. Will also keep you, and any field visitors, humble about our "real" place in the helping process among the poor.

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Ernie Muncinsky
Many people in “rich” North America struggle to understand the concept of poverty. This book opens up that topic in order to discuss the meaning of poverty and its effect in and outside of the church. The questions raised by the authors challenge you to think about your real attitudes regarding material blessings. Reading this book will help you to re-focus your attention to what is the most important concern when you consider your wealth and what you are to do with it.