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When Helping Hurts: A legacy of impact

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In Discipling Nations, Darrow Miller writes,

Worldviews do not stay in the dusty pages of the obscure tomes of a professor’s library. They are diffused across oceans, through societies, and over the centuries, shaping individuals, cultures, nations, and the flow of history.

Recently, The Gospel Coalition highlighted this truth in a story about the profound impact of When Helping Hurts, a development book co-authored by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Steve Corbett is a Community Development Specialist for The Chalmers Center and an assistant professor of community development at Covenant College in Georgia. Prior to his work at Covenant College and The Chalmers Center, Steve was recruited and trained by Darrow Miller to work in a rural part of southern Mexico with Food for the Hungry (FH). Steve later returned to Food for the Hungry’s US office to deliver the same training in their staff development department. The worldview ideas and teachings that influenced the work at FH during those days would end up having a far-reaching impact.

After FH, Steve began teaching alongside Brian Fikkert at Covenant College. Brian is president and founder of The Chalmers Center as well as a professor of economics and community development at Covenant College. It was during this time that Brian and Steve merged their ideas and influences regarding development work to co-author When Helping Hurts.

First published in 2009, When Helping Hurts has since sold over 400,000 copies. With its focus on alleviating poverty through not only relief but also rehabilitation and development, Steve and Brian’s book has been described as “the go-to resource for evangelicals thinking about short-term mission trips and economic development for the poor” (Fowler). There are leaders and mission groups around the globe who testify to the valuable role When Helping Hurts plays in their ministries and outreaches. You can read some of these testimonies in The Gospel Coalition’s full article “When Helping Hurts: How one book changed care for the poor”.

Steve Corbett (left) and Brian Fikkert (right), co-authors of When Helping Hurts
Their worldview teachings have had a profound influence on ministries and
outreaches around the globe.


Brian states, “It is profoundly encouraging to see God use our book in this way, but we are keenly aware that in many ways this really isn’t our book. Rather, it is a book that captures the insights of many people who have taught and mentored us over the course of our lives,” pointing to Darrow Miller and Discipling Nations as one of the key forerunners in their work.

“We are keenly aware that in many ways this really isn’t our book.”

In a recent correspondence to Scott Allen and the Disciple Nations Alliance, Brian wrote, “Thanks for the huge impact you’ve had on us and so many others.”

Scott Allen says in response, “It truly is amazing to me to see how God has used the ideas and teaching that we were working with in FH all those years ago to have such a big impact on churches all over the world.”

The Disciple Nations Alliance operates out of a desire to work collaboratively with like-hearted individuals and organizations in order to diffuse ideas as widely as possible. The influence of When Helping Hurts is a notable example of the transformation that takes place when God works through this vision to create a reality.

To learn more about the vision and history of the DNA, visit the About Us page on our website.

Have DNA teachings and resources impacted your life or ministry? We would love to hear about it! Write to us in the comments section below or contact us.

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