As many are beginning to realize, and as the new documentary, Poverty, Inc., details at length, the foreign aid movement has largely failed the global poor, promoting top-down solutions at the expense of bottom-up enterprises and institutions.
This is partly due to errors in economic thinking, but it also comes from a lack of understanding and appreciation for the intangible assets in individual communities, particularly as it relates to the social and the spiritual.
“There has got to be more than just a change in a wallet for significant change to happen,” says Peter Greer in an excerpt from the PovertyCure series. “And I think that is where certainly the church and the faith community has something materially different to offer than just another loan, just another job. When you have the opportunity to touch hearts, to touch meaning, to touch purpose, to touch identity, alongside helping an individual get out of physical poverty, that’s where you see incredible transformation.”
Unfortunately, in our efforts to assist with this sort of ground-level, whole-life transformation, Christians often give way to the same mistakes of detached economic planners. Such risks are detailed at length in PovertyCure, as well as in books such as Toxic Charity, When Helping Hurts, and The Spiritual Danger of Doing Good, each illuminating the temptations and dangers of misaligned charity and activism. (more…)