Dr. Brian Fikkert, President and Founder of the Chamlers Center for Economic Development, recently spoke with me about his most recent book From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty Through Church-Centered Microfinance.
If you care about healthy and effective engagement with poverty - whether you know nothing about microfinance or have been practicing it for years - this is a book for you.
Here is the audio of our conversation. (If you are one of our subscribers and reading from your email, you will need to click the title to open this post in a browser to listen.)
//// 3 Highlights from the Book ////
I am NOT an economist, like Dr. Fikkert. I am NOT currently participating in any form of microfinance ministry. Despite these factors, I still benefitted greatly from reading this book. And you will too! I recommend this resource strongly to you if you have interest in healthy models of ministry among the materially poor. Here are a few of the highlights for me:
- It Describes and Fleshes Out a Strong Theological Framework for Poverty - Poverty is more than a lack of resources. The poor are not to be defined by the things they lack. This book roots poverty and the poor in the profound dignity of being people who are made in the image of God. They are image bearers full of gifts, assets, ideas, abilities, etc. Poverty is about relationships, justice, systems, and reconciliation. The book roots all of this in strong theology, and it fleshes that theology out in all the levels of how microfinance is implemented.
- It is not Selling Fix-All Solutions - For those who work among and with the poor, there is a desperate desire for better, more sustainable and effective methods for alleviating poverty. There is a temptation to sell and to buy models that promise to solve all the complexities and challenges. Microfinance has been gaining a lot of attention for the results it is experiencing. This book does as much cautioning against unhealthy expectations and approaches to microfinance as it does preparing you to do it well. It defines different types of microfinance, the different contexts in which each are appropriate and helps you diagnose whether and how you should approach this model in your context.
- It Emphasizes the Need for Listening - The book does a great job calling wealthy people, churches, and countries to a posture of listening. We have to learn what the communities we say we seek to serve actually want. The book not only addresses the need for listening but the challenges that get in the way of wealthy people doing that well. This is really important no matter what model of ministry you are seeking to implement. This book advocates for the full participation - from design to implementation of the ministries - of the members of poor communities. Nothing is to be done to or for these communities; it is done with. There are no blueprints we can rush in and implement to fix things. We have to build authentic relationships that emphasize assets and participation.
In short, get this. Read it. You'll be enriched, challenged and better prepared for healthy ministry.