Our Favorite Books: When Helping Hurts


I'll never forget the feeling. I was in Uganda with another organization, trying to do something good. Trying to spend three short weeks away from home and somehow make a long-term difference for the children I was serving. 

Somewhere in the middle of giving out a lot of stuff, probably around the third time someone approached me and asked for cash, it hit me. "Am I actually helping? Or in one year, when I come back, will the exact same needs still exist? What difference am I making?" 
If you've ever asked that question—or even if you haven't—you’ll learn a lot from Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert’s book, When Helping Hurts. You may have encountered moments like this while serving in-country. Or maybe you simply ask yourself every time you write a check, "Is this money really helping the people I'm sending it to?" 
The problem, according to the book’s authors, lies deeper than our methods of addressing poverty. It cuts to the core of how we actually define it. 
As Americans, we are apt to define poverty as a lack of material goods. The solution then, is simple. More stuff! But Corbett and Fikkert challenge the reader to define poverty as a social and spiritual problem, not just a material need. 
Based on this new definition, the authors challenge us to confront poverty in ways that do not create dependency and shame for those on the receiving end—or god complexes (ouch) for those who give. 
We read through this book as a staff last summer and always had lively, convicting discussions about the way we serve here at Children of the Nations—whether it's communicating with partners like you, sending teams on Venture Trips, or working with our in-country staff. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a heart to see real and lasting change in our poverty-stricken world today! 
We believe one of the most effective ways to create lasting and positive change is by sponsoring children in need. Visit our child sponsorship page to make a difference today.
Have you read When Helping Hurts? What did you think? Share with us in a comment below: