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Making Sure Helping Does not Hurt: Bringing Sustainable and Eternal Change from the Inside Out

Author: Greg Williams
Published: August 2015

MD 6.2

Article Type: Text Article

Churches of Christ have a rich missions heritage. We have been instrumental in taking the gospel to many places in the world, planting churches, and doing relief work. But why have our planted churches often been ineffective at reproducing themselves? Why has our financial support lingered so long in one place instead of moving on to new locations where Jesus is not known? Could it be that our strategies have been lacking? Could we actually be doing harm to the churches we have planted? It is the author’s intent to introduce the reader to some concepts, principles, and considerations that can make mission efforts more sustainable and reproducible.

Helping Can Hurt?

During the last years of my career in forestry and timberland investments, I spent most of my time investing in eucalyptus plantations in Brazil. I helped my investors purchase thousands of acres of cattle grazing land and convert the pastures into intensively cultivated eucalyptus plantations. In the state of Minas Gerais, we could grow and harvest eighty-two-foot-tall eucalyptus trees in seven years. This kind of growth required intensive silvicultural operations that enabled us to produce a lot of value for the investors while also protecting the environment.

Yet there was not much about these plantations that was native to the region. Eucalyptus grows very well in much of Brazil, but it is native to Australia. The eucalyptus species that we planted had been genetically improved for rapid volume growth. The seedlings were clones so there would be uniformity—each tree looked and grew just like the one next to it. The native vegetation was mowed down and grasses were sprayed with herbicide to kill this competing vegetation. Fertilizers were brought in to augment the soil’s productivity. Pesticides were used to control the native leaf-cutter ants. Everything grew well as long as all these non-native resources and practices were applied. But, if our management were to stop these intensive practices, the results would have been very different, and it would have been impossible to duplicate the level of productivity we achieved.

What does this have to do with Christian missions? Planting churches can be the same. An American church that brings in a lot of outside resources to plant a church on foreign soil can get quick growth for its investment. The American missionary can bring in food to feed the hungry, medical supplies to heal the sick, money and people to build a church building, and preachers to teach the people. Generally people in need will be drawn to these resources. People will be fed, the sick will get well, children will be taught, individuals will be baptized, pews will begin to fill, and the church plant may look like a success. But is this a sustainable church plant? Are the people coming for a relationship with Christ, or are they coming to get their physical needs met? Are lives being transformed from sinful, destructive patterns, or are people dressing up their outside so they can sit in the pews and receive outside physical resources? Will this church plant be able to reproduce itself? Our experience tells us that it will not be sustainable. We teach freedom in Christ but unwittingly we promote psychological and financial bondage to an outside source. What does a sustainable mission look like and how can we fix these unsustainable situations?

What Is A Sustainable Mission?

I define a sustainable mission as an indigenous church that:

  • Builds a Christ-following community that is consistent with its culture.
  • Develops and supports its own leadership.
  • Recognizes and develops its local resources to do the work of ministry.
  • Uses its resources to take care of the truly helpless in its fellowship and its community.
  • Reaches out and multiplies in other communities using its own resources.

Do you know of any mission churches like this? Is it even possible?

What Is The Issue?—How can helping hurt?

Before we can know how to really help, we need to understand how our helping can hurt. We will look at four issues that have hurt and continue to hinder our mission efforts:

  • Man’s Broken Relationships
  • Dependency
  • God Complexes
  • Disconnected Mission Efforts

Broken Relationships

In the beginning (in the garden) God created man with four relationships: with God, himself, others, and the rest of creation (the natural world).2 Before the fall, man was dependent upon God and all these relationships were in balance and in harmony. But man, in his desire to become equal to and independent from God, disobeyed God (sinned), and all these relationships became broken. In man’s effort to become self-sustainable, he became unsustainable. Man immediately experienced the shame of his separation and the consequences of his sin. He began to experience the difficulty of being independent from God—the hard daily requirements of living in a broken world. So in man’s desire to become independent of God, he finds himself becoming dependent on others and on things in unhealthy ways.

To fill the void that man experiences in his broken world, he turns to systems: religious, social, political, and economic.3 These are not evil in and of themselves. Scripture indicates that these systems are created and ordained by God.4 But man creates institutions within these systems and has used these systems in ways that God did not intend. They have become a substitute for the relationships that God created us to have and we expect them to perform social good they are not equipped to accomplish. Jesus’ work of reconciliation is to bring all of these four relationships back into harmony. It is in the church, the community of Christ followers, that God wants us to experience the four relationships in harmony again. We cannot develop resource-sustainable missions without addressing our brokenness in these relationships and embracing the healing that Christ came to bring. The more the church takes care of its responsibility to heal broken relationships, the more effectively the systems can work. Conversely, the more the church abdicates its healing role, the more man seeks to make the systems to fill the gap, but the systems do not have the tools or power to take care of the heart of the problem—the problem of the heart. The systems can provide law and order and take care of symptoms, but the systems cannot heal the cause of broken relationships.

Since the systems are God-created, the institutions that man has created within them are a part of our reality and should not be avoided. In fact, the more the church permeates its community with its healing work, the better these systems can work in providing law and order, developing and providing resources, and addressing some of the symptoms. I believe that as missionaries we should seek to engage these systems and let them work with us and for us where they can. In the area of resource sustainability, the economic principles that are consistent with the kingdom of God can work for us and be tools for supporting our mission efforts. Through resource stewardship and Christian businesses we can help reconcile man to the rest of creation and have an impact on developing more sustainable mission work. It is important that sending churches and missionaries understand these principles and plan and apply mission strategies that are consistent with them.


One typical result of these broken relationships is unhealthy dependency on outside resources. A definition of dependency is: “The unhealthy reliance on foreign resources that accompanies the feeling that churches and institutions are unable to function without outside assistance.”5

“Unhealthy dependency includes a material, psychological, and spiritual component.” These become chains of bondage keeping Christians inside a box that they cannot see out of. “All together, it creates a faulty self-perception that is death to effective indigenous church growth.”6

When individuals and churches become dependent on outside resources rather than discovering their own God-given talents and the resources in their own communities, they remain spiritually weak and immature. In their external dependency, they become irrelevant and ineffective in reaching their communities.

Bob Lupton, in his book Toxic Charity, succinctly outlines the progression of how one-way giving, outside of emergency situations, leads to dependency:

  • Give once and you elicit appreciation;
  • Give twice and you create anticipation;
  • Give three times and you create expectation;
  • Give four times and it becomes entitlement;
  • Give five times and you establish dependency.7

God Complexes

A God complex is defined as “a subtle and unconscious sense of superiority” in which we believe we have achieved our superior position through our own efforts and have been anointed to decide what is best for those we have come to help.8

If we come to help without an awareness of our own brokenness, we may unintentionally abuse those we seek to help, and we will be blind to their capacity to address their own needs.

Consider the story of George Asimba and JohnKeen. My wife and I met JohnKeen while living in Kisumu, Kenya, in 2012. He was an elementary-age student with an infectious smile, loving eyes, and bright mind. But JohnKeen had a handicap. Besides being small for his age, he had a severe curvature in his spine that made it difficult to be as physically active as the other boys his age. But John more than made up for his handicap with his character. One day, while we were in Kisumu, JohnKeen’s spine suddenly snapped; the pressure on the curvature had become too great. In a moment he was paralyzed from his chest down. We were distraught and wondered how we could help. As soon as it could be arranged we took him to a specialist at a mission hospital nearly a day’s ride away. The specialist confirmed that the damage was irreparable. JohnKeen’s parents refused to believe that their precious son would never walk again. They went to many doctors and to faith healers. Many promised (for the right amount of money) to bring healing to JohnKeen’s broken spine, but the money was not available and the faith healers could not reverse the damage.

I also met George Asimba about this same time. George is an exceptional young man and Christian with a similar background. George’s spine broke from a similar deformity when he was in the seventh grade, and he became paralyzed from the waist down. After some time grieving his situation, he determined to not to give up on life. He realized that God still had a plan for him. So he enrolled in a special school for the handicapped and completed high school with high grades. When I met George he was enrolling for college. We wanted to help JohnKeen and his family through the process of grieving their loss and to begin to think maturely about how to move forward, but we did not know how. So we turned to George. George went with us to visit JohnKeen and his family and gave one of the most beautiful testimonies about his life and about the man born blind from John 9 that I have ever heard. Furthermore, George has continued to follow up with JohnKeen and his family. JohnKeen and his family are moving forward.

Our first reaction to JohnKeen’s situation was to use our American financial resources to solve JohnKeen’s challenges. But we realized that we are not God, that we are broken people too, and that we did not know what was best for him and his family in their culture. By engaging the local people and being careful in our involvement, and patient with God’s provision, both young men have grown in their trust of God and ability to develop their own resources.

Disconnected Mission Efforts

Within the autonomous Churches of Christ there are many amazing, wonderful mission efforts around the globe. We believe in the authority and responsibility of the autonomous church, but we must also believe in the brotherhood of the kingdom of God. Without more communication and more sharing of ideas and resources, the successes of those who are applying sustainable missions principles cannot be broadly replicated. Coordination is a key to stewarding the resources God has given us. Missions Resource Networks (MRN) works to bring individuals, churches, mission organizations, and businesses together to share ideas, successes, and resources. I have been cataloging mission agencies related to Churches of Christ, where they are working, and what they do. MRN has been working to connect agencies like Healing Hands International and Christian Relief Fund to share resources and work strategically to expand the kingdom at overlapping locations.

How Do We Extend God’s Grace?

The book When Helping Hurts has created a lot of discussion and interest about how best to help people. Some have objected to this book on two points:

  1. Tell us not what hurts (we are aware of that). Tells us what helps.
  2. God’s love is full and unconditional. Are we to “qualify” our love and help for people based upon their resources and ability to use them?

Regarding the first objection, I give some tips later in this article. The second objection is a valid concern. We need to make a distinction between God’s grace through his forgiveness of sins versus his grace (or provisions) for meeting people’s physical needs. God is love. His love and his grace for sins are full and unconditional. We must learn to reflect this kind of grace. A study of Jesus’ acts of helping the needy and helpless around him does not reveal any “qualification” for the healings and provisions of grace he gave. Although Jesus healed many people, relief of people’s physical pain was not the focus of his ministry. It was, rather, to seek and to save the lost, and that must be our focus too.

We are called to be conduits of God’s blessings. But I believe the question is not whether to give but rather what and how best to give. As I study Jesus’ examples of giving, it is clear that when he gave, he gave fully and without qualification. But he did not always give; sometimes he walked away from a village before all were healed in order to preach in another village. And he did not always give what was asked for but rather what was really needed in that situation. Therefore as we serve those in need we must respond thoughtfully. We must not ask for those we serve to qualify for our attention, but we must be discerning, as Jesus was, in order to respond appropriately. Life is messy. Helping people requires time, energy, and relationship. We Westerners like to help, but we like simple solutions, quick fixes, and moving on to the next problem. We like to be the hero. But this is not how Jesus did things. He walked with his disciples. He moved among the people, where they lived. He experienced their hunger and their pain. He moved slowly and intentionally. At his crucifixion, all his work appeared to be a failure. Even those he had poured his life into had deserted him. But he had equipped (developed) them in foundational ways that they had not yet understood. They wanted to sit beside him, on his left and right, on an earthly throne, but he had not given them what they asked for. He had prepared them for a different kingdom that they were about to understand. So also our giving must be with the eternal kingdom in mind and a long-term strategy for its expansion.

Are There Categories of Help?

Not all needs are equal. Different situations often require different types and durations of response. I have found it helpful to categorize help into three types:

Relief is “the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce immediate suffering from a natural or man-made crisis.”

Rehabilitation “seeks to restore people and their communities to the positive elements of their precrisis condition. [A key feature is working with the affected population] as they participate in their own recovery.”

Development “is a process of ongoing change that moves all the people involved—both the ‘helpers’ and the ‘helped’—closer to being in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.”9

If I can discern which of these three categories I am dealing with, I can better provide a response that is appropriate and helpful. Relief situations are disasters such as an earthquake, typhoon, tsunami, or severe famine. The need is urgent and immediate or more lives will be lost. The situation is often such that the local resources are either unavailable or insufficient for the crisis. Nevertheless, as much as possible, relief providers should partner with local leadership and local resources.

Rehabilitation is what happens after the crisis of a relief situation has passed. Some relief assistance might be needed, but once the situation has stabilized and people are no longer dying, rebuilding should start. At this point local leadership should begin to take control of their situation, make plans for the rebuilding, and start directing the efforts. They may need partners if they are not experienced in the relevant areas, and they may need some outside physical resources where their own are insufficient, but they are no longer just victims. Relief service is not what was needed in New Orleans a year after Hurricane Katrina. The most helpful form of aid at that point would have been rehabilitation.

The reality is that most needs in the world fall into the third category: development. Much of the needed resources, if not all, are locally or regionally available, but they may not be immediately identifiable or accessible. If they have been identified and accessible, they may need further development to be usable. For example, bodies of water may be available, but knowledge of how to make it potable may not be. Or there may be plenty of water in aquifers in the ground, but villagers may not know it’s there or how to drill a well. There may be leaders in a community, but they have not been asked to participate.

It is common to mistake a chronic issue for a relief situation. Starvation from severe, abnormal famine is a relief issue; chronic hunger is a development issue. Giving relief resources when rehabilitation or development is most needed takes away the dignity and initiative of the local people and inhibits the development of local resources. “There is a time and place for relief—at times of disaster. But relief given at times other than a disaster, creates a disaster.”10 For more information on this subject, see the books listed in the bibliography.

What Are Some Principles/Practices for Helping That Really Help?

1. Appreciate and Acknowledge the Cultural Factors

Culture matters. It is the lens through which we see our world and those that we seek to help. It is also the lens through which they see their world, including our help. Aside from this practical consideration, we also have a biblical basis for appreciating culture. Jesus came, lived, taught, died, and rose in the context of the first-century Jewish culture. Jesus “is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3), but that representation was expressed in a Jewish culture.11 The nature of God and the principles of truth that Jesus taught are true everywhere, but their application is culturally defined. One of the challenges that Paul faced as he moved across Asia Minor and into the Macedonian and Achaean provinces was how to represent Christ’s teachings to a Gentile culture.

Culture has to do with the common beliefs and behaviors of a group of people or a society expressed in its language, customs, and arts. It is born out of the people’s history and worldview. The American experience is vastly different from the rural Tanzanian or Cambodian experience. Should it be a surprise that our cultures are different? And if our cultures are very different, should it surprise us that there will be some difference in the application of the gospel in each of these cultures? If culture is so ingrained, then how can a North American missionary divorce himself or herself from his or her own culture and present the gospel in a way that is understood in another culture and then applied appropriately in that culture? That is a difficult question.

Vincent Donovan, a catholic priest, describes his struggle with that question in his book Christianity Rediscovered.12 From 1955 to 1973, as he lived and taught among the Masai tribes in Tanzania, he observed that the mission practices of the West and of his fellowship were not working. Donovan realized that he had to find a new way to bring the gospel to this illiterate, pagan people group and that the message of the gospel had to be rediscovered and communicated in ways they could understand. Each step of the way he had to evaluate how best to communicate this truth or principle in a way that would be understood in their culture. For example, cattle are the Masai’s greatest possession. Much of their life revolves around taking care of their cattle. Farmers are seen as a lesser people to the Masai. Therefore, the Bible’s message must be interpreted and understood within the context of that culture. This makes understanding the story of the first farmer, Cain, murdering the first cattleman, Able, very difficult for the Masai. In their understanding, “Cain got away with it, just as farmers do today, and always have with the government backing them.”13

Certainly, much more can be said about culture, but it would be impossible to over-emphasize the importance of a proper understanding of cultural issues. Many resources are available for studying cultural matters.14 Workers concerned about specific areas can also find significant help. For example, African Friends and Money Matters, by David Maranz, is a practical book for learning about African culture.15 Missionaries who fail to appreciate and work within the local culture will likely provide harmful help.

2. Focus on Possibilities and Available Resources, not on Needs

When we focus on people’s needs, we focus on their weaknesses. By focusing on what they lack we foster a feeling of helplessness and dependency. But focusing on what people have and what is possible creates hope, opens eyes to resources that have not been seen, and fosters a “building” mindset.

The North Atlanta Church of Christ has been supporting a church in Almaty, Kazakhstan, since 1998. In the beginning, most of the resources came from the US. After two years the decision was made to partner with another US church to send an experienced American missionary. He brought in additional missionaries from Russia (native Russians that he had discipled while living there). While that influx of outside resources could have hindered the church’s development, fortunately these missionaries taught the local church to take responsibility for itself. Although the American missionaries have returned to the US, the church has continued to grow and impact its community. For a time they employed a native Kazak as a minister, whom they paid from their local resources. Now they are developing leadership from within their young adult membership. These men and women are volunteering their time to lead new ministries to meet the needs of people inside and outside the church community.

In 2013 the North Atlanta church began to wonder if the Almaty church was strong and self-sustainable enough to move forward without external financial support. My wife and I went to Almaty and spent ten days with the church and the leadership. During that time I led them through a visioning and goal-setting process. They identified the gifts, talents, and resources of their church and community and also named their dreams for the church over the next three years. Additionally, they developed goals that would lead them toward accomplishing those dreams. Now, on their own, they have been developing the specific application of these goals, and we have partnered with them, when requested, to help them leverage their local resources. North Atlanta has begun discussions about gradually reducing support for their local working fund and saving those funds to assist a future church plant. This again is a process of building mindset, leadership, partnership, and local resources. The process has not been perfect, but there has been a strong culture of partnership from the beginning, and a shift is taking place to lean on more local resources.

3. Develop Resources through Empowering Partnerships

  • Work with and develop the local resources.
  • Partner with other helpers.

Some take a hard line on this issue of dependency by refusing to bring in any outside resources and requiring that all needs be addressed organically and locally. I do not believe this is reasonable or biblical. We would not treat our own children this way, and thankfully God has not treated us this way. I believe that we start with helping people discover their own resources: their talents and gifts. If we bring in our resources before they have had a chance to discover their own, they have no incentive to discover their own resources, and their resources may look inferior to our Western material abundance. Their resources will be more culturally appropriate and in the long run more powerful and effective.

But we must also recognize, as they will, that there may be limits to the resources possessed by the small family of believers in the beginning of a church plant. God owns everything, and there are always more resources in their community that God would like to make available if we ask for them and learn how to access them. American missionaries must learn how to engage their target communities and must disciple native Christians to do the same. The same is true with host country resources. If the church, in partnership with the local community, begins to have a positive impact on societal issues, the government will begin to take notice. In some cultures, this attention will result in persecution, but often times this community service results in the local community and government joining hands with the work of the church.

Finally, there are the resources of the global Christian community. We are all a part of the same kingdom of God. At MRN, we recommend that the resources of the global Christian community be provided in partnership with local resources and then only as the local resources have been developed or as needed to help develop and empower local resources. We aim to help individuals and churches see outside their box, discover their God-given resources as well as the resources of their communities, and assist them to make the plans and connections necessary to develop them. This progression of resource discovery, development, and deployment is:

  • Resources of Native Christians
  • Resources of Native Community
  • Resources of Native Country
  • Resources of Global Christians.

In summary, our goal is to partner with local Christians in discovering local solutions and local resources for local issues.

This year I had the opportunity to visit with Jacob Randiek and the Rabour Church of Christ in Migori County, Kenya. As a young man, Jacob, a native of that region, went away to a preacher training school in the capital of Nairobi. After graduation he spent several years as a missionary in Tanzania. Upon returning home, he asked himself and God what he should do. His conclusion was that he could be a missionary in his home community. So he began to teach friends and neighbors what he knew, and people began to come to Christ. A small church formed. Unmet needs surfaced. So again he asked, “What shall we do and how shall we move forward?” Instead of seeking foreign support from people he did not yet know, he trusted God to provide. One of his first disciples had experience in sugarcane farming, and the area had a good sugarcane market. So together they rented a small plot of land and began to grow a crop. God blessed their efforts, and they used profits to begin to build a small church building. As the church membership grew they realized that there were many orphans in the community who were not getting an education. So, using what they had, they started a small school. Some of the church members adopted orphans and raised them as their own. Pretty soon the community began to notice what they were doing and began to join in. And after some time the local government began to partner as well. They continued on this path of trusting God to provide, using what they had, and involving their community.Now, a number of years later, there are five churches in the area. All of them have some form of church building. There are two primary schools with over two hundred students in attendance. And now the local government is paying for some of their older students to go to the same preacher training school that Jacob attended. Local resources that had not been available, or even recognized, are being developed and applied. Is every need being met? No. Have there been struggles and will there continue to be? For sure. Could they do more and develop more resources with some outside partnerships? I believe so. But the activities and fellowship of the Christians at the Rabour Church of Christ are sustainable, they are reproducing themselves, and they have learned that they can move forward with what God provides.

4. Develop and Implement Kingdom-Centered Plans

In business, any partnership or investment should start with a good plan. Developing resources in another country for kingdom work is no different. The elements of a sound plan, listed below, are essentially the same, but how they are developed and the extent to which they are developed is dependent on the nature of the project, the level of foreign involvement, and the culture of the target country. Typically, plans are developed by Americans and delivered to the local people. This is not sustainable mission planning. The locals who will execute the plan should play a central part in developing it. Otherwise, they will lack ownership, and execution will be poor.

Here are some essential elements of a good plan:

  • Start with the end in mind.
  • Define the objectives and goals.
  • Identify who is going to do what, when, and how.
  • Ensure participants have appropriate skills.
  • Define funding/budgeting.
  • Favor loans over grants when development funding is needed.
  • Define who is accountable.
  • Plan for shared responsibility.
  • Identify the expected, measurable outcomes and how they will be measured.
  • Provide for local onsite oversight.
  • Follow up.

5. Trust and Adjust

Remember, plans are just that—plans. A plan is not law; it is a map to a destination. Obstacles may come up along the way, and detours may be necessary. New information may be discovered, or God may reveal additional opportunities or redirect the path. Therefore we must be prepared to trust God and adjust our plans.

  • Recognize that there are no quick fixes.
  • Be committed for the long term.
  • Make plans but adjust with God’s guidance.
  • Stay open to learning as you go.
  • Create opportunities to fine tune projects.

6. Keep it Simple, Affordable, Sustainable, Reproducible

Westerners are good at making plans. Some of us, like me, tend to get unnecessarily complicated. However, if we partner with the local people, stay true to the local culture, and commit to developing local resources, then kingdom projects are more likely to be simple and affordable. And if they are simple, designed and led by local leadership, and affordable in the local economy, they are more likely to be sustainable. And if they are simple, affordable, and sustainable, then they are reproducible, and the kingdom will grow. That is bringing change from the inside out.

Conclusion: So What?

Remember the eucalyptus plantations at the beginning of this article? If you are investing in serving others, planting churches, and living the great commission, then ask yourself a question: “What kind of investment do I want to make?” One that grows fast from the input of many “foreign” resources and makes a lot of quick return for you, but then withers away when you have tired of investing? Or would you rather invest in something that is more natural and native and continues to grow for generations regardless of your future involvement? When I was charged with making financial returns for my timberland investment clients, intensive management and quick returns were good. But now I am investing for God, for the growth of his kingdom, for eternal returns. I want to invest in work that will last beyond me. How about you?

Does any of this ring true to you? Have I shed any light to the questions that I raised in the beginning? Have I sparked any new ideas about how to do missions more effectively, more sustainability? Did this article make you want to dig deeper? I hope you can answer “yes” to some of these concluding questions. I hope that you will dig deeper, and if you do I would love to hear about what you find.

Greg lives in Norcross, Georgia, with his wife Suzy but works for Missions Resource Network (MRN) headquartered in Bedford, Texas. In his role at MRN as Facilitator for Sustainable Missions he promotes resource sustainability across MRN’s global footprint, promoting the development of local resources for funding of local ministries. Before coming to MRN, Greg had a thirty-four-year career in forestry involving work with state government and commercial banks. He has been involved in international missions since 1992. During that time, he participated in fourteen short-term mission trips to Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Mexico, Guyana, and Kenya. He is passionate about developing people and organizations that incorporate godly principles to produce sustainable results for the kingdom of God. Greg can be reached at


Corbett, Steve, and Brian Fikkert. When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself. 2nd ed. Chicago: Moody, 2012.

Donovan, Vincent J. Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1978.

Johnson, Jean. We Are not the Hero: A Missionary’s Guide for Sharing Christ, not a Culture of Dependency. Sisters, Oregon: Deep River Books, 2012.

Lederleitner, Mary T. Cross-Cultural Partnerships: Navigating the Complexities of Money and Mission. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010.

Lupton, Robert D. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (and How to Reverse It). New York: HarperOne, 2011.

Maranz, David. African Friends and Money Matters: Observations from Africa. Publications in Ethnography 37. Dallas: SIL International, 2001.

Myers, Bryant L. Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development. Rev. and exp. ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011.

Rogers, Glenn. The Role of Worldview in Missions and Multiethnic Ministry. N.p.: Mission and Ministry Resources, 2002).

1 This article is an expansion of a presentation made at the Global Missions Conference, “The Mission of God,” Memphis, TN, October 16–18, 2014.

2 Corbett, Steve and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Moody, 2012), 55.

3 See Corbett and Fikkert, 54; Bryant L. Myers, Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development, rev. and exp. ed. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2011), 64–69.

4 See Dan 2:21, 4:17; Matt 22:15–22; Rom 13:1–7; Col 1:16–17; 1 Pet 2:13–17.

5 Jean Johnson, We Are not the Hero: A Missionary’s Guide for Sharing Christ, not a Culture of Dependency (Sisters, OR: Deep River Books, 2012), 119, quoting from Robert Reese, Roots and Remedies of the Dependency Syndrome in World Missions (Pasadena, CA: Williams Carey Library, 2010), 1.

6 Johnson, 119.

7 Robert D. Lupton, Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (and How to Reverse It) (New York: HarperOne, 2011), 130.

8 Corbett and Fikkert, 61.

9 Corbett and Fikkert, 99–100.

10 Quoted from conversation with Jim Reppart, Caris Foundation, Malindi, Kenya, April 2015.

11 Scripture quotations are from the New International Version

12 Vincent J. Donovan, Christianity Rediscovered: An Epistle from the Masai (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1978).

13 Ibid., 44.

14 E.g., Mary T. Lederleitner, Cross-Cultural Partnerships: Navigating the Complexities of Money and Mission (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010); Glenn Rogers, The Role of Worldview in Missions and Multiethnic Ministry (N.p.: Mission and Ministry Resources, 2002).

15 David E. Maranz, African Friends and Money Matters: Observations from Africa, Publications in Ethnography 37 (Dallas: SIL International, 2001).

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