It was a beautiful Friday morning to be on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University. We have been in conversation with the good people with the Center for International Development. Together, we have shared a common desire to serve the poor by pairing our good intentions with good economic thinking. So we were delighted to co-sponsor an breakfast event entitled “Brave Conversations” featuring interaction with Dr. Bruce Wydick, author of The Shrewd Samaritan: Faith, Economics, and the Road to Loving our Global Neighbor (affiliate link)
Wydick’s book is a great introduction to the economic dynamics around development and gives a nice introduction behind the kinds of initiatives/activities that actually best serve the poor, underserved, and otherwise disconnected from the opportunities to rise out of poverty. Just enough research and footnotes to make the case, but relevant enough to equip economically awakened congregational leaders to get a good grasp on what actually helps our neighbors locally and globally.
At the center of the presentation was an exercise to identify which poverty alleviation strategies were actually effective in producing lasting positive outcomes. It was encouraging to learn that child-sponsorship programs had great impact… but surprising that fair-trade coffee wasn’t so great in helping coffee growers. It was surprising that microfinancing efforts experienced somewhat mixed effectiveness in reducing poverty… but that traditional evangelism and discipleship efforts of the church in a village was good. (I’m still hunting down a link to the study conducted in the Philippians.)
Here at Flourish San Diego, we have long championed the idea that how the church thinks about engaging the world in redemptive ways must include fresh ways of evaluating the efficacy of existing approaches to flourish our most marginalized neighbors. Each of the strategies presented during the presentation, was paired with a study making the case for the strategy’s relative effectiveness. I was struck that most of these studies (some multi-year studies) were only published in the last 7-10 years.
The book isn’t for international development geeks. Wydick has written this book to help people feel more confident about how to serve those in their community and the poor on the other side of the world. You might not be an economist, but we all have the opportunity to steward what we have and know for the good of others. This book helps.
Attendees were comprised of alumni from our Collective Academy, PLNU students and faculty.
Many thanks to the ministry partners of Flourish San Diego for helping to underwrite this breakfast lecture.
P.S. Early Childhood interventions are particularly effective interventions. We are very supportive of our friends at First Christian Church in National City. With great intentionality and sacrifice, they have invested to develop an early childhood learning center for the good of their neighbors. If you’d like to donate to support this work (especially during its early enrollment months) you would be having a very direct impact. Give online at the church website specifying the Giving Type: Early Learning Center.