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Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practice of Transformational Development

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  613 ratings  ·  55 reviews
Proposes an understanding of development in which the physical, social, and spiritual dimensions of life are seamlessly interrelated. "A masterpiece of integration and application that draws widely on the best Christian and scientific sources on development and draws solid conclusions from what we have learned from experience in ministries around the world." From the Forew ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published September 1st 1999 by Orbis Books (first published June 1999)
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Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
The most thorough, biblical, and insightful treatment that I've yet found on the nature and response to poverty. Much stronger than books like When Helping Hurts. The author draws on numerous contemporary thinkers and examines all the common angles. Instead of the usual "deficit" understanding of poverty, Myers shows that poverty is relational. He draws especially on Jayakumar Christian's fascinating work to the effect that the "poor are wrapped in a series of restrictions and limitations in fou ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This book has been the most influential book in my life. I was first introduced to this book in my Theory of Community Development class at Covenant College, and it helped me to look at poverty in a brand new light. It made me wrestle with questions such as: 1. What is poverty? 2. Who are the poor? 3. What are the causes of poverty? 4. What is development? 5. How do we start the process of change? The book didn't just leave me asking questions; it gave me a "Tool Kit" of developmental practice s ...more
Masha Andrievskaya
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the most influential books of my college education. It shows poverty as a systematic issue, a web that has to do with much more than financial stability and access to physical goods. Poverty is physical, emotional, spiritual, social. We must have a holistic understanding it in order to combat it, and Myers does just that.
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: all
Walking With the Poor is a seminal book on working in transformational development. If you want to help the poor, and you care about whether the poor people you come into relationship with are really helped, then you need to read this book.

Myers gets into the basic questions that we need to face in work with the poor. What are the root causes of poverty? What is God calling us to in our relationships with the poor? What are the end goals for them and for us? What kind of attributes and tools do
Jan 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just finished reading this book for the third time. Actually, this is the first time I've read the second edition. Finally, a second edition that actually contains substantial changes! Dr. Myers' thinking and insights are continuing to develop. Way to go! I'd like to give a really in-depth review, but there is so much there! This is a great book, most other development books can almost be considered footnotes or explanations of themes contained within this one. Dr. Myers has truly done Christian ...more
Michael Walther
Review (November 16, 2019)

This book is a very thorough study of the problem of poverty. Myers believes that the ultimate problem is that of broken relationships with God and with one another. But he carefully examines the many causes of poverty. The book is full of quotes and footnotes for anyone who is interested in details. I’d like to see more actual programs and examples of development that did help the poor.

These are my highlights from the book:
Spiritual/Natural Dualism Location: 361
He dev
Aug 06, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in poverty and development
This book is difficult to read, but rich with insight if you can wade through it. I learned a great deal.
Mary Lou
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The word “with” is an important indicator of Bryant Meyer’s perspective in his book Walking with the Poor. He laments the checkered history development has had when people conceived of developmental work as totally material, separate from a holistic understanding of the integration of the physical and spiritual world and not related to the holistic well-being of a community. He laments, as well, the deficit view of poverty that led to the outsider becoming the “developmental Santa Claus, bringin ...more
Brandon Stiver
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book as an in-depth overview of development. I've read a bit on international development but for the most part this has only focused on economic development. While that is an important piece, it is not the only piece, or even the most important piece. I'm a big believer in seeing whole person transformation, community transformation and nation transformation and Myers educates us masterfully on what that looks like. The overview of different theories of poverty and development is wort ...more
May 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wish I'd had this book to read alongside my development classes during my Masters in Social Work program. This book did an incredible job of outlining development practices and theory on a broad spectrum and then explaining what a transformational Christian perspective looks like. The core ideas were very similar to the book When Helping Hurts, but this was much more in-depth and more of a practitioner's guide. I really appreciated that Myers also spent time talking about what it means to have ...more
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Systematic understanding of perspective about poor and rich. The word “poor” can describe anything including spirituality. When you feel insecure about something in you or feel less, that is you being poor. In those decades, being poor is mostly describing lack of money. But book is keep saying that being poor is because of your root of sin. Me being poor spiritual is because I am struggling with my sin which is 100% true, I indeed. If someone is falling love the Creator blindly, that one will g ...more
Brice Karickhoff
Oct 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
IMO, the single best book on what we ought to do about global poverty. Theres some good Christian books that really flop from an economic standpoint. And there are some technically strong economic books that dont move beyond the economic needs of people to the emotional, social, and spiritual needs. This book covers it all, and I think that it does it very well. Of course if you have talked to me about this stuff, you dont need to read it because I basically just rehearse this book when people a ...more
Dylan Brobst
May 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing comprehensive book that not only discusses the dynamic challenges of missions, but also provides a combinations of researched and proven methods of how to efficiently handle them in a way that not only promotes the Gospel, but does so in a way that creates lasting change for the poor and non-poor alike. I recommend this book to EVERYONE that wants to live out the Bible and help others.
Amanda Rae
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated this book. It was dense and not the type of book I read for fun, per say, but being in Malawi full time, I gleaned so much truth and wisdom from this book...far more than any other similar books addressing poverty and the Christian response. Looking forward to applying the principles and seeing how God uses this book in my life on the field.
Jimmy Obbo
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
one of the best books on transformation
Ashley Wiersma
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The section on the poverty of the non-poor alone is worth more than the price of the book.
Steve Schwind
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most thorough book on transformational development that I've ever read. This book is a game changer. If you liked "When Helping Hurts," this book takes you to the next level. ...more
Ellie Scott
Dec 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still my favourite community development book.
I'm not sure where to start with this review. Bryant Myers book is thick and it's taken me over six months to finish it. I believe that it is used as a college text for Development in a Christian Context. Makes sense!

I'll start by saying this was so very close to a five star.

The five star qualities included: A rich, complex and thorough analysis of what it means to do Development Work from a thoroughly Christian point of view, many different perspectives, chapters that cover everything from th
Jan 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Next to Daniel Quinn's Ishmael, this is the second most influencial book that I have ever read. Myers addresses the controversial topics of both international development and missionary work-- he points out their greatest flaws and areas for potential improvement. Having read this book before I moved to Nicaragua, I saw at poverty in a very different light from most of my peers. "Walking with the Poor" should be required reading for anyone traveling to developing countries, and it will also impa ...more
Bernie Anderson
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this book. This was my second time through it. Anyone who is doing any semblance of Christian Development work or who supports Christian development work should be required to study this book backwards and forwards. It’s that important.
I really appreciated this book by Myers. It gave me at least an introduction into helping other ministries here and abroad.

His thesis is that all ministry to poor and non-poor is two fold, if it is to be truly holistic transformational development:
1) recovery of our true identity as human beings created in the image of God and
2) recovery of our true vocation as productive stewards, faithfully caring for the world and all the people in it.

Myers has a solid discussion about the causes of poverty a
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
This book could be a 5-star if it were re-written to get to the point more directly. The content is very helpful, and provides a clear and insightful grid for working with impoverished people, especially strong on entering the narrative of the culture and working alongside the poor rather than presuming solutions from without. That said, it is highly repetitive and stodgy at points, reading like my old psych courses in college. You can probably limit you reading to the summary points and come aw ...more
Sep 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book contains excellent insights, and is very comprehensive in scope

It is there for more of a text book that "readable". On one side it would not render justice to read it over a weekend, but on the other side, the risk of stalling is big.

I hence have only given 4 stars, as I am a bit hesitant to pass it on, but will try and get my friends to read it.

Could one have a "lighter" version? Which one could pass around, to less acedemic folks.

Anyhow, I will struggle through the rest of this book,
Caleb Stephens
Sep 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book provides a pragmatic template for helping the poor through a Christian worldview. His view is that helping people wholistically must include a spiritual element for their recovery from the oppression of poverty. He clearly describes what some think is the cycle of poverty and how to help people out of poverty. If you are a Christian who is interested in working in a community for help the poor this is a must read.
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I have ever read in transformational development. It comprises a holistic approach that helps keep in the forefront of the mind the full impacts of development work, both for ourselves and those whose communities we are working in. Although I didn't always agree with his particular perspective I appreciated him showing various viewpoints on development other than his own and why they did are didn't work. ...more
Tim Hoiland
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
When Bryant Myers published Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development in 1999, it was a groundbreaking work that soon became the definitive handbook for academics and practitioners in the field of transformational development. More than a decade later, with the release of a revised and expanded edition, it remains as important as ever...

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Nov 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a colleague. It was inspiring. The author put in words so many things that I have seen and felt in my 30+ years in Africa - both what it wrong with development efforts and what is right. Anyone considering serious involvement in cross-cultural or international development work needs to read this book and take it very seriously. My hard copy is marked up from front to back.
Tim Hoiland
When Bryant Myers published Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development in 1999, it was a groundbreaking work that soon became the definitive handbook for academics and practitioners in the field of transformational development. More than a decade later, with the release of a revised and expanded edition, it remains as important as ever...

- See more at:
Apr 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is very insightful on how we should do development. It is a difficult read. I think that it is difficult because of how much information Myers puts in. I do believe that the review of the book in the beginning is a little much and should possibly put at the end, why review a book before you read it? But I learned so much from reading it and think that this idea of Transformational development should be done more!
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Bryant L. Myers is professor of transformational development at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, California. A lifelong activist dedicated to Christian relief and development work around the world, Myers served as vice president for international program strategy at World Vision International. He resides with his family in Southern California.

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62 likes · 15 comments
“The net result of the fall on the economic, political, and religious systems is that they become the places where people learn to play god in the lives of the poor and the marginalized. When fallen human beings play god in the lives of others, the results are patterns of domination and oppression that mar the image and potential productivity of the poor while alienating the non-poor from their true identity and vocation as well.” 4 likes
“Poverty is about relationships that don't work, that isolate, that abandon or devalue. Transformation must be about restoring relationships, just and right relationships with God, with self, with community, with the “other,” and with the environment.” 2 likes
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