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.