How to help...not handout!

Published September 14, 2010 by Michael Fechner

I was recently given this very interesting book, well “extended” summary of a book, called When Helping Hurts. After reading the 10 page summary I was very encouraged by what the authors communicated and how our ministry is already engaging in so many of the strategies they propose. The main tenet of the book is to look at how to reach the poor in America without hurting both yourself and the poor person. From years of working in the inner-cities I have seen how the best intentions of helping can end up hurting both parties involved. What struck me the most was the ways the authors categorized the help needed by the poor: Relief Rehabilitation Development Relief is the type of help that is needed following a disaster or crisis, the immediate needs of food, clothing, etc. to stop the immediate suffering. This is the type of help we must often offer, but not what is usually needed. However, the need for rehabilitation and development are much more called for in many of America’s poor communities. So why do people so often continue to offer relief, instead of rehabilitating and developing individuals and communities? The truth, because it’s messy…it takes patience, a lot of sacrificial love, and a lot of persistence. Relief is simply transactional, a giver and a recipient. Rehabilitation and development are relational, two people working together and building a relationship to advance to a destination. The question posed to each of us in the end is, “who can I build a relationship with and help them along the way”? Make no mistake, God has commanded us to take care of the poor, in fact the poor are the responsibility of the church. You may ask, “why is God so adamant about caring for the poor and not just evangelizing to them”? Because when we love those that are unlovable and care for those that world has left to die, that is when the love and glory of Christ can shine through us! It sets us apart as believers. Nobody has a greater capacity to love than the Christian that has received unconditional love and mercy from a God of salvation and restoration. Become a bridgebuilder that is changing a life for Christ and offering hope for a better tomorrow.