Jonathan's Reviews > Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practice of Transformational Development

Walking with the Poor by Bryant L. Myers
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's review
Oct 15, 2011

it was amazing
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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 does a transformational development worker need to have to answer what God is calling us to and reach those end goals? Because of the fundamental nature of these questions and the wide body of theological research that Myers surveys in pursuing answers, it can often get dense. But if you care about the answers to those questions, the material deserves a careful read.

There’s far too much good stuff to summarize, so I’ll just highlight a few things that helped me. In looking at the causes of poverty, Myers’s surveys of Jayakumar Christian’s investigation of the “web of lies” that entrap the poor and of Walter Wink’s list of “delusional assumptions” were both helpful. The information on “God-complexes of the non-poor” is also especially good. In looking into what constitutes Godly, Kingdom-focused transformational development, the explanations of what kind of end goals we’re looking for, how we can best go about evaluating our progress, and what kind of person it takes to meet these goals were all worth copying and saving. The final sections on bringing together evangelism and development were also excellent and prayerfully thought out.
This is the kind of book that I know I’m going to have to go back to and read again as I continue my journey of working alongside the poor. If you have an analytical mind and are willing to give the book the energy it deserves, I highly recommend it.

I also highly recommend the related “When Helping Hurts” by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert as a shorter, more mainstream-targeted book that tackles the same subject for the layman who is interested in serving the poor.

I’ll end the review with one quote from Myers. I think this really sums up the message of the book:

“The challenge to the poor is to recover their identity as children of God and to discover their vocation as productive stewards, discovering that they have been given gifts to contribute to social well-being. The challenge to the non-poor is to relinquish their god-complexes and to employ their gifts for the sake of all human beings rather than using their gifts as a source of power or control.”
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Elizabeth Thanks Jonathan, but I didn't find the book innovative or particularly insightful I think it was fine, becaue I'd read several other articles and texts and had these conversations with others who believed similarly before. ANyway, I appreciate your suggestion to read other people's opinions,other reviews won't necessarily change my opinion. I'm so glad you found it really valuable to your own life and work, though. to each his own. ;)

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