Veteran urban activist Robert Lupton reveals the shockingly toxic effects that modern charity has upon the very people meant to benefit from it. Toxic Charity provides proven new models for charitable groups who want to help—not sabotage—those whom they desire to serve. Lupton, the founder of FCS Urban Ministries (Focused Community Strategies) in Atlanta, the voice of the Urban Perspectives newsletter, and the author of Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life, has been at the forefront of urban ministry activism for forty years. Now, in the vein of Jeffrey Sachs’s The End of Poverty, Richard Stearns’s The Hole in Our Gospel, and Gregory Boyle’s Tattoos on the Heart, his groundbreaking Toxic Charity shows us how to start serving needy and impoverished members of our communities in a way that will lead to lasting, real-world change.
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Still a bit toxic
Lupton shows a better way to help the poor without hurting them. No questions about that.
Nevertheless, he goes light on the need for internal motivation required inside the poor, else all this work is for naught. Possibly, he would set expectations if he said this works for the "leaders" and those highly motivated. Not everyone is going to win just because we follow the FCS oath.
But that is ok. If I run a certain type of store I must realize not everyone is a candidate to be my customer. I just need to know my true customer well, and not expect too much from the rest.
Finally, I think he underestimates the Gospel in turning more of the folks into highly motivated folks from across the tracks. Or at least he does not share what the role of the Gospel is in the community development concept.
At 73, I still work full time as a tax & financial professional but also travel extensively doing mission work. This includes wheelchair distributions in Vietnam, Mexico, Israel, Jamaica and other countries. But my main passion is working with my daughters and granddaughters in an amputee village in the remote eastern region of Sierra Leone, West Africa.
We built a school and church there and are currently educating and feeding over 100 kids a day. Through the years we have made about every mistake possible but have kept chugging along. Unknowingly we created strife in the village where none existed before, and caused division among families and friends as we went about our well intentioned efforts.
This book has opened our eyes and caused us to rethink our entire approach. Planned now are meetings with the village Chief and community leaders to work together with us on what they need, not what we think they need. And to transition the project we’ve done over to them if it fits their long term goals.
We’re committed from this point forward to partner with those we serve. Many thanks to Robert Lupton for taking valuable time from his life to write this book and to share his wisdom that was earned in the trenches.
Troy Chesnut PhD, CFP, EA
Managing Director, Vrdur Foundation
Non-Profit Practitioner gets a revelation
This book has opened my eyes to faults that has plagued our approaches to alleviating poverty and helping the materially poor.