When Helping Heals
Is it possible to work in international development without hurting those we are trying to help?
Over the last few decades, evangelical Christians in the United States have moved from an open embrace of development work (e.g. short term missions, poverty alleviation strategies like microenterprise, child sponsorship) to a more critical assessment (e.g. When Helping Hurts, Serving with Eyes Wide Open, Poverty Inc.).
These strategic shifts are not new. Scholars writing within the field of international development have entertained these debates for quite some time, but evangelical Christians have recently gotten very interested in the conversation. The problem is that the two sides in the debate do not capture well the reality or the prospects of international development.
In this Calvin Short, Roland Hoksbergen and Tracy Kuperus review the field of international development from both secular and Christian perspectives. They explain why this debate has developed and then provide a more balanced picture. A core theme is that development work should and can be done, but it must be done wisely and well if it is to be truly constructive.
5 Questions with the Authors
"Hoksbergen and Kuperus's book provides a clearly written, concise discussion of the major issues in international development. In straight-forward language with vivid examples, the work urges the reader to move beyond simplistic views of international development work. It is an essential resource for Christians eager to understand how people of faith can respond to the challenges of global poverty and injustice."
— The University of the South
About the Authors
Tracy Kuperus earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She has taught at Westmont College, Gordon College, and Calvin College. Her research interests include religion and politics, state-civil society relations, and democratization and citizen mobilization efforts in southern Africa. She has published articles in journals such as African Affairs, The Journal of Church and State, and Christian Scholar’s Review, and is the co-author of the book Responsible Citizenship: Faith-Based Mobilisation in Sub-Saharan Africa (Sun Media, 2015).
Roland Hoksbergen earned his Ph.D. in Economic Development from the University of Notre Dame. A professor at Calvin College since 1983, he also worked for seven years in Central America. His research focuses on development issues, including civil society, the role of the private sector, development assistance strategies, and transformational development. The author of Serving God Globally (Baker Academic 2012), much of his work explores the role that North American Christians can play in promoting human flourishing around the world.