This is the third post in a series from the book “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. With each of these posts, the goal is to look at poverty through different lenses and gain better understanding as walk forward, both as an organization and as individuals. To see the first and second posts, click on these links.
As believers, we can see through Jesus’ whole life his examples and callings to care for the poor. He both went into those places and sent his people into those places, caring and empowering for the people who needed it most. Too easily though, I think we can call get into our heads that caring for the poor means making their lives as comfortable as we can. While this generosity is often meant well, I appreciate how “When Helping Hurts” looks at another side to poverty and how we should respond to it:
Participation is not just the means to an end but rather a legitimate end in its own right.
Why? It all goes back to the definition of poverty alleviation… The goal is to restore people to experiencing humanness in the way that God intended. The crucial thing is to help people understand their identity as image bearers, to love their neighbors as themselves, to be stewards over God’s creation, and to bring glory to God in all things.
It is impossible to accomplish such reconciliation of relationships in a blueprint approach in which the outsiders are the ones deciding what to do, how to do it, and how well it worked. Such an approach undermines the action – reflection cycle for poor people, denying them the opportunity to be what God created them to be: image bearers, who, through trial and error, unpack and unfold the wonders of God’s creation.
I am encouraged as I see Haitian couples raising up out of the local church to care for 12 children for a lifetime. I love hearing of the pastors who have taken detailed training and now advocate in their congregations for the end of the restavek (child slavery) system in Haiti. I see so much hope for families as men are given jobs at the Ranch project in Fondfrede. And I’m overjoyed to see the global body of Christ rising up together to change poverty around in many, many ways.
Check out Our Approach online, and see how we’re striving to enable people to lift themselves out of poverty.