Posted with permission, here is David Platt’s foreword to the new edition (with a new preface and new chapter on application) for the book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . And Yourself by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert (Moody, 2012):
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We live in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need. Nearly three billion people are living on less than two dollars a day, and over a billion of them dwell in desperate poverty. They are starving in slums, sold into slavery, orphaned due to AIDS, and dying of preventable diseases. Some of them are our Christian brothers and sisters while others of them have never even heard of Christ.
So what are we to do? In light of massive need in the world and in view of God’s merciful concern for the poor, how are we in the church to respond? This question forms the foundation for the pages that lie ahead. Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have undertaken a mammoth task in this book, and I praise God for how they have carried it out.
They start with the Word of God, which is where we must begin. A book filled with practical thoughts and economic tips would be vain apart from eternal truth. This book is saturated with Scripture as the authors continually ground their assertions in God-breathed authority. They address poverty alleviation through the lens of redemptive history, and in so doing they rightly exalt Christ as the supreme healer of every human heart, whether rich or poor.
The authors move from God’s Word to God’s people, specifically the local church. Their conviction (which I share) that the local church has a unique role to play in poverty alleviation affects everything they write. In a real sense, they are writing to the church and for the church; they want to see local churches carry out the commands of Christ in ways that are gracious to the poor, good for God’s people, and glorifying to God’s name.
But this book does not stall in the sphere of the theological and theoretical. It moves wonderfully from timeless truth to contemporary application. As you read, you won’t just learn about problems in the world; you will discover how poverty in the world can actually be addressed. In the process of reading case studies, exploring critical questions, and analyzing current events, you will realize that God has given you—and your church—a unique opportunity to be a part of His global plan to make His great mercy known in your community and among all the nations.
For all of these reasons (and more), this book is virtually required reading for everyone in our church who is intentionally engaging the poor here and around the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough for anyone who is passionate about spreading and showing the love of Christ to the “least of these.”
Simply put, I have never read a better book on practically serving the poor, and I pray that God will use this new edition to equip his people to accomplish His purposes in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need for the glory of His great name.
— DAVID PLATT
Pastor, Church at Brook Hills, Birmingham, AL and author of Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream