These books have shaped my thoughts and work. If you want to come to Africa and help the children, these are the books I recommend. Read them all. Read the Bible along with them. Soak it all with prayer. Be tenacious. Be a learner. Be a listener. Be humble.
- Walking with the Poor, by Bryant Myers
This book changed everything about the way I thought about working with the poor. I thought it was a book about development – but it is very much a theology book. I love this book. I go back to it over and over. It took me over a year to read it the first time, because I understood that I needed to “get it” and read every paragraph at least 6 or 7 times before moving to the next. If you don’t have the patience for this one, please read When Helping Hurts, which covers the same concepts. But if you want to go deep – or if you are leading a ministry, don’t skip this one.
- The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty, by Peter Greer
This book is the place to start with microfinance and employment-based poverty alleviation. What I love is that the author focuses on the capabilities of the poor rather than on their needs.
- Revolution in World Missions, by K.P. Yohannan
This is the first book I ever read on missions. It’s free, so you have no excuse not to read it. This book shows how God uses His people from all nations to reach all nations.
- When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself, by Brian Fikkert & Steve Corbett
We could avoid so much heartache and waste by taking a good, critical look at our efforts to alleviate material poverty. Does a short-term missions team with suitcases full of backpacks really help? We often feel we need to “do something” but do we put enough thoughtful research and humility and relationship into that “something?” From what I’ve seen, no. Well-meaning but misplaced efforts are actually hurting the people we want to help. This book offers not only that critical look, but also a way to move forward in a more helpful and God-honoring way.
- This Our Exile, by James Martin
James Martin is a wonderful story teller, and this memoir of his time in Kenya will have you laughing in one moment and crying the next. It’s the next best thing to actually going to East Africa. I’m very task-oriented, so for me, this book helped me to see people, rather than projects. And that’s the first, most important step.
These are just five of the many books that have influenced me. What books have most influenced you?