Essay about Bickerdt Touch and When Helping Hurts Reflection

Submitted By sammib929
Words: 1106
Pages: 5

Samantha Bickerdt
John Edgar, Donita Harris
PT 120
12 January 2013

Poverty affects each and every person in one way or another. Some people face poverty every day while some try to ignore the reality of its presence. In the novel, “Touch” by Rudy Rasmus, he approaches the problem of poverty in a very direct way. Rasmus makes a very important point by stating, “To the extent that we experience His [God’s] grace, forgiveness, kindness, and love, we will respond by loving Him and loving others- even those who don’t love us (47).” Through the process of experiencing the love of God, that love can be expressed through my heart to others. Rasmus explains that God’s love helps to melt away the iciness in order to create lasting relationships with all people. In the book, “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, they provide a similar message as Rasmus and give a practical understanding about what it means to be poor and how to view a situation outside of my social location. In many ways, these two books give the same message but it is done in very different ways. One reason the approach of the authors is different is due to their different social locations. Rasmus is an African American who grew up around scandal and eventually found God which changed his life. Corbett and Fikkert are two Caucasian males who have worked with the poor but have faced some dissonance within impoverished communities. Corbett and Fikkert’s experiences resonate more with my own because my social location is closer to theirs. I have participated in several programs with my church and college that work with people who are poor. There was one program that has always been very important to me and needs the most revision. My church works with a system of five other churches of differing denominations to run the local food pantry in our town. Though this pantry provides material needs to those who cannot afford food for their family, there is a reoccurrence of patronage without much transformation. Corbett and Fikkert explain that in many cases, poverty alleviation does more harm than good due to a lack of realizing the type of alleviation that should be put into action. They name three specific types: relief, rehabilitation, and development (99). Like most food pantries, my town’s food pantry is mainly working in a relief model of alleviation. Corbett and Fikkert boldly state, “One of the biggest mistakes the North American churches make- by far- is in applying relief in situations which rehabilitation or development is the appropriate intervention (101).” Our church is making this mistake with this food pantry. Relief is simply providing the need to temporarily stop the suffering where rehabilitation and development move past the temporary to create a lasting and positive relationship with those people involved. My town’s food pantry simply gives out a sack of food to the family that will last approximately two weeks without any creation of relationships. In many cases, the families receiving this relief are regular visitors to the pantry showing no sign of improvement. The food pantry is facing a classic problem in poverty alleviation brought up in both books; assuming that the main problem with those who are poor is a lack of material wealth. Though this is true, those who visit the food pantry are usually lacking so much more. These families are lacking the support, respect, and relationships to make a lasting difference in their lives. Rasmus explains, “Transformational development transcends the specifics of material and economic improvement and expands the effort to include the spiritual, emotional, social, and material empowerment of the whole person and the entire community (68).” Rasmus emphasizes the importance of establishing a relationship with people no matter their race, traditions, or monetary value. In the case of my town’s food pantry, there needs to be more than temporary relief, but rehabilitation of those who come to