Book Review: When Helping Hurts

book_when_helping_hurts_thumbWhen Helping Hurts was one of the first widely accepted books on Christian development work. I know I’ve read it countless times over the last 5 years, every time gaining new insight.


Gives an incredible introduction to development work and why it’s so important. Describes perfectly how damaging thoughtless charity can be. If you are ever discouraged about development work, this is a great book to rely on for some inspiration. Presents the problem well.


Misses opportunities to present solutions to the problems of international work. Leaves the reader wanting more.


If you have ever been on a mission trip, if you want to go on a mission trip, if you have anything to do with missions, or relief, in anyway this book is a must read.

Favorite quotes:

Saving souls is only a subset of the comprehensive healing of the entire cosmos that Jesus’ kingdom brings.

While poor people mention having a lack of material things, they tend to describe their condition in far more psychological and social terms than our North American audiences.

The problem goes well beyond the material dimension, so the solutions must go beyond the material as well.

Development work is not done to people or for people but with people.

The North American need for speed undermines the slow process needed for lasting and effective long-run development.

Participation in its fullest sense is not just a means to an end but the most important end!

Development is a lifelong process, not a two-week product.


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