When Helping Hurts

When Helping Hurts

How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself

by Steve Corbett
Publisher: Moody Press
Trade Paperback, 230 pages
Price: $14.99

The world is full of suffering; it's natural for people to try to alleviate it. In fact, as suffering affects us more and more and becomes increasingly difficult to ignore, human beings try harder and harder to eradicate hunger, warfare, disease, poor sanitation, drought, and death. Some people even suggest alleviating suffering is the primary duty of the Church and Christians.

Christians in the West are particularly influenced by this "social gospel." It drives them to activity in their communities, among the inner-city poor, and beyond the U. S. to the hungry and diseased inAsia, South America, and Africa. Missions are centered on the here-and-now, bringing people toward physical and temporal wellness in the name of Christ.

These concerns aren't new, and they aren't bad. But sometimes helping hurts, especially when it's misdirected or built on faulty principles. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert are afraid that's the case with many of the relief efforts Western Christians undertake, and their book When Helping Hurtsaims at helping Christians redirect their outreach to reflect the truth of the Gospel rather than the "truth" of humanistic materialism.

The first step toward Gospel-centered ministry is to acknowledge the universal brokenness of humanity in the Fall. Too often we look down on the poor by virtue of our earned wealth, forgetting that we're just as much in need of salvation. Poverty is more than lack of material wealth, it's our sin-stained relationships with each other, ourselves, and God.

When Helping Hurts isn't a justification for not caring about people's physical needs, and it's not about the importance of self-esteem. It's a call to action in the right context, with the right attitudes, and for the right reasons. Meant for church groups and Bible studies, the book includes discussion questions and detailed instructions for reading it as a group.

As the wealthiest people in the world, we must use our wealth for God's glory. That involves sharing with others by ministering to their needs. Corbett and Fikkert want us to remember that there's a right and wrong way to help, and that Christ's Gospel must remain our focus. This expanded version of a previous edition drives that point home with humility, grace, and firmness.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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Exodus Rating:
Summary: Christians must help others, but they need to make sure what they're doing is actually helpful, first.

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