Training Post Title

AN INTRODUCTION TO WHEN HELPING HURTS


The average North American enjoys a standard of living that has been unimaginable for most of human history. Meanwhile, 40% of the earth’s inhabitants eke out an existence on less than $2 per day. And from inner-city neighborhoods to rural Appalachia, poverty and homelessness continue to inflict pain, loss and despair on the North American continent itself.

Throughout the Scriptures, God’s people are commanded to show compassion to the poor. In fact, doing so is simply part of our job description. While all followers of God have a responsibility to help the poor, there is enormous diversity in the ways to fulfill this biblical mandate.

But it is possible to hurt poor people, and ourselves, in the process of trying to help them. This seminar focuses on the appropriate ways for a North American congregation or faith-based organization to participate in poverty & homelessness alleviation at home and abroad.

If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. - Isaiah 58:10

A special thanks to The Chalmers Center for videos and to Community Resource Network for discussion format. 

 
VIDEO 1- RECONSIDERING THE MEANING OF POVERTY

What is poverty? What is homelessness?
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What’s the one word or phrase that comes to your mind when you think about the issues of poverty or homelessness?
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“How we define poverty determines the solutions we propose.” <br />– Dr. Brian Fikkert

Think about the different approaches, strategies, ministries and programs your house of faith or organization has used to respond to people in need.

To what degree is there a “material definition of poverty” in these and what harm may this have caused?
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VIDEO 2- SEEING GOD AT WORK


The Story of Alisa
Alisa Collins and her family lived in one of America’s most dangerous public housing projects in inner-city Chicago. Alisa got pregnant at the age of sixteen, dropped out of high school, and started collecting welfare checks. She has five children from different fathers, none of whom help with child-rearing. With few skills, no husband, and limited social networks, Alisa struggled to raise her family in an environment characterized by widespread substance abuse, failing schools, high rates of unemployment, rampant violence, teenage pregnancy, and an absence of role models. Occasionally, Alisa tried to get a job, but a number of obstacles prevented her from finding and keeping regular work. First, there were simply not a lot of decent-paying jobs for high school dropouts living in impoverished areas. Second, the welfare system penalized Alisa for earning money, taking away benefits for every dollar she earned and every asset she acquired. Third, Alisa felt inferior and inadequate. When she tried to get vocational training or a job and faced some obstacle, she quickly lost confidence and rapidly retreated back to where she was comfortable - public housing and welfare checks. Alisa felt trapped, and she and her family often talked about how they couldn’t get out of the cycle they were trapped in. 

If Alisa showed up at your church door next Sunday asking for help, what would you do?
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RELATIONSHIP TO GOD, SELF, OTHERS, AND REST OF CREATION


Poverty Alleviation
A process in which people, both the materially poor and non-poor, move closer to living in right relationship with God, self, others, and the rest of creation.

Material Poverty Alleviation
Working to reconcile the four foundational relationships so that people can fulfill their callings of glorifying God by working and supporting themselves and their families with the fruit of that work. 

Think back to a situation in which you tried to minister to people who were materially poor. Did your approach reconcile the four broken relationships in each of you or did it actually contribute to greater “poverty” in the relationships?
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VIDEO 3- UNDERSTANDING WHY GOOD INTENTIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH

Think about the materially poor people in North America who have asked you or your church for immediate financial assistance. Under what conditions would you give things or money to these people?
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Now think about any ministry to the materially poor that you or your church has conducted in the Majority World, for example, a short-term mission trip. Under what conditions would you or your church give things or money to those people?
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Are your answers to the previous two questions the same or different? Why or why not?
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Think about a time when you helped a materially poor person who presented themselves at your church or around where you live. Now look at the diagram below. In example you thought of above, were you providing relief, rehabilitation, or development?
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RELIEF, REHABILITATION, AND DEVELOPMENT


 •Relief: An effort to “stop the bleeding.” It is the urgent and temporary provision of emergency aid to reduce the immediate suffering from a natural or man-made crisis, and it primarily utilizes a provider-receiver dynamic.

Rehabilitation: An effort to restore people back to their pre-crisis state after the initial bleeding has stopped.

Development: Walking with people across time in ways that move 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 that they were before. It avoids “doing for” and focuses on “doing with.”

What types of activities does your congregation and/or community partners conduct that would best be categorized as relief-oriented?
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How do we ensure, as a community, that we are in fact conducting the correct type of support, at the right time, to the right people?
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VIDEO 4- JOINING GOD’S WORK

Imagine that your church or ministry wants to help an individual poor person or a poor community. Who would you ask for advice? Write down a list of the people you might consult to design your approach.
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Was there ever a time when someone recognized a gift or ability in you that you did not even realize you possessed? How did that experience affect you?
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Look back at your answer to the preliminary question in this unit. Who did you ask for advice? Who did you not ask for advice? What, if anything, does this reveal about your views of the materially poor and of yourself?
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NEEDS-BASED DEVELOPMENT
A development approach that focuses on the deficits and shortcoming in the life of a person or community

ASSET-BASED DEVELOPMENT
A development approach that focuses on identifying, mobilizing and connecting God-given capabilities, skills and resources of a person or community 

In light of the quote below, reflect on the materially poor people in your life. What God-given gifts do you see in them? Do you think that these people are aware of their gifts?
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“One of the things that we have to come to believe is that everyone has something to contribute in the life of the community, that no one is so poor that they have nothing to bring to the exchange.” - Robert Lupton 

Take a moment to assess how you interact with the materially poor. Do you think your actions, words, and attitude communicate to these people that they have valuable gifts and assets as image-bearers? In what ways?
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Are there any ways you can move toward an even more asset-based attitude and perspective?
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VIDEO 5- FOSTERING CHANGE

Think of a time when you took actions to effect positive change in your life. What caused you to take those actions? Think of an individual(s) who has had a significant, positive impact in your life. How did they do this? What did you appreciate about their approach?
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 TRIGGERS FOR CHANGE
•A recent crisis
•The burden of the status quo becoming so overwhelming that people want to pursue change
•The introduction of a new way of doing or seeing things that could improve people’s lives

Look back at your answer to the first preliminary questions: what triggered you to pursue these changes?
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Had you ever attempted these changes before, but failed? If so, what was different about the attempt that finally succeeded?
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What potential triggers for change do you see in the lives of the materially poor people around you?
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Are any of your actions fostering or undermining these triggers?
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What types of obstacles are preventing these triggers from leading to successful change? In other words, where and why does the process of change fall apart?
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Are there any ways you can better support the change of process in these people’s lives?
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In what specific ways can you pray for the people in your life who are currently unreceptive to change? In what areas of your own heart are you hardened to change?
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Remember
If you offer to walk across time with someone instead of giving them a handout and they refuse your help, you are not turning away from them, they are turning away from your help. 

VIDEO 6- MOVING FORWARD

What is a brief definition of how your church, congregation, faith group or organization explicitly or implicitly defines “partnership?”
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Referencing the diagram below, look back at the preliminary questions to this unit. Is your church or ministry currently focused on working directly with the materially poor at the household level, or is it focused on partnering with local and international organizations working within poor communities?


THREE MINISTRY CONTEXTS

What are the implications of John 17:20-23 and Philippians 2:1-11 on the importance of linking arms with other people of faith and on the attitude that we should bring to such partnerships?
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What are some of the specific actions your church or ministry could take to be an even better partner?
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How do you believe this training relates to Foundry?
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