Effective Methods for Poverty Alleviation

There is no easy way around pulling someone out of the muck and mire of poverty. Poverty is complex and no two situations are the same. What is needed are effective and sustainable ways for the alleviation of poverty.

In another article, we talked about Understanding Poverty the Christian Way. Helping without hurting is the goal and knowing whether to give relief, rehabilitation, or development is crucial.

Properly diagnosing people’s needs with the assessment methodology is indispensable to poverty alleviation. The book, Helping Without Hurting provides groundbreaking research. If we properly diagnose first, we will save time, money, and resources. Poverty in America is nothing like poverty in third world countries. Poverty handled here is done different, but by in large, the concepts are precisely the same. By following a list of helpful questions, the solution could be more effective, efficient, and stand the test of time.

  1. Is the person in a crisis?
  2. How much did the person play a role in their situation?
  3. Can the person help himself?
  4. How often has the person been coming for help?

Let’s Make This Personal

My husband works part-time and goes to school full-time. I’m a homemaker earning money by saving money. A few years ago, we had a run down car that (barely) got us from point A to B. We thanked the Lord every time it started up. With a one year old baby, the power steering out, the A/C not working (living in Florida), and with the exhaust leaking inside the vehicle, we needed a new car.

We had been saving up for a little bit and had just over $1200 for a better car. Contemplating going to the church for some assistance, we asked about the process. To shorten the story, our church gives interest free loans and before giving aid, they look at our finances to make sure that we aren’t wasting money on non-necessities. At that point in time, we weren’t that desperate for assistance and we were not interested in getting into debt. So, we did’t take the aid from our church.

  1. Were we in crisis? No.
  2. Did we play a role in not having money? Yes and no. We were paying for school out of pocket and paying for birth expenses while refusing government assistance like the apostle Paul says (1 Thess. 4:11-12).
  3. Could we help ourselves? The car was still working. We decided to keep on saving and hold on until it broke down. And of course making sure the windows were down and praying it wouldn’t rain.
  4. How often did we go to the church for help? That was our first time.

From the church’s standpoint, they have an obligation to be wise stewards with the money God has placed in their control. They take their time in making sure that the people are on their way to being financially secure. At first, I didn’t have a good attitude about their decision, but after studying more about poverty assistance, I see the wisdom. I applaud their methodology. They help without hurting the church and its members.

Working with people instead of for people is the end goal. Empowering people to become the humans that God has designed them to be is the most effective way to alleviate poverty. Yes, they are in the muck and mire, but the right tools will help hoist them out by God’s grace.

*Much of the given knowledge shared comes from the book authored by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor…and Yourself.

For Further Discussion:

Raising the Minimum Wage Won’t Alleviate Poverty. Lowering it Might: on FEE

Christ and Poverty: on The Reformed Conservative


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