Why “When Helping Hurts”?

Every once in a while there will be a movie that comes out and totally shapes the cinematic experience. Sometimes it’s on the cutting edge of technology (“Matrix”), has an epic storyline (“Titanic”), deals with tough real life situations (“Philadelphia”) or connects to our adventurous spirit (“Indiana Jones”). Whatever it might be, movies have a way of inspiring and shaping our emotions, feelings and perspectives, and some of these classics always come to mind.

Much like a movie some books have also shaped the way we think, act and see life. In the realm of Christian missions books “When Helping Hurts” is one of those mind shapers. With over 300,000 copies sold [1] this book has played an instrumental role in shaping the way Christians do outreach towards the poor.

If you have wrestled with the idea of how to help a person in poverty without hindering them this is a must read. Because many in our organization have benefited from the wisdom and scriptural insights shared in this book we have decided to take the summer months to study, share and expand on some of the understandings found in this book.

What did that mean?

I remember vividly as a kid walking down the streets of a US city and seeing a homeless man. I wanted to give the man some money so I asked my parents for some change and they gave me a whole dollar bill! I slipped it into the man’s bucket and in an instant (with cat like reflexes) the man had snatched the dollar and put it in his pocket. I was startled at first and wondered why he had grabbed it so fast. After all, there were only a few pennies in the bucket wouldn’t seeing a dollar in his bucket inspire others to give?

What did that mean I thought? I don’t know exactly why he reacted the way he did, (he probably had good reason for doing it) but it made me think at the time, how many others dollars does he have in his pocket? It didn’t stop me from giving to others in need but it did place a bit of examining in my mind. How do you really help someone in need?

For me, the book “When Helping Hurts” brought data and substance to a mere theory I had always wrestled with. It shed to light some deeper truths that shaped my love of the poor and the way I would ultimately seek to love and serve others. Many who have read the book would probably say the same thing.

As Christ followers we often don’t lack desire. I could be wrong but I think the majority if not all of us want to help those living in poverty; it’s just taking the initiative to do it (and do it well) where we often fail.

I hope as you follow along with us in this summer series that you will be edified and encouraged in your love of the poor. Our heart is to provide thought-provoking discussion along with some real-life examples of the topics explored in the book.

Please feel free to give us your thoughts, applications or questions as you follow along. Thanks for joining us in this journey!

[1] http://www.moodypublishers.com/pub_productDetail.aspx?id=41828&pid=127502
By | 2015-06-01T05:30:36+00:00 June 1st, 2015|Categories: Learn and Apply|Tags: |

About the Author:

John Warden is Reconciled World’s global staff pastor and the facilitator for 2:10. He holds a Masters of Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has more than fifteen years of ministry experience. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD with his wife and two daughters. You can contact him directly at johnw@reconciledworld.org.

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