Judith M. Dean, Julie Schaffner, and Stephen L.S. Smith, editors, Attacking Poverty in the Developing World; Christian Practitioners and Academics in Collaboration (Waynesboro, GA: Authentic Media, 2005), 286pp.
To celebrate its twentieth anniversary, the Association of Christian Economists (organized in 1982) convened a conference for Christian scholars and practitioners who were equally committed to Jesus's call to care for the poor (January 5–6, 2003), but who until this effort generally operated independently of one another. This volume collects the papers of the conference and exemplifies the spirit of collaboration that constituted one of its goals.
Nearly two dozen authors from around the globe contribute eighteen chapters that are organized along four themes—collaboration among Christian practitioners and academicians, design of poverty reduction efforts, evaluation and assessment of such projects, and then issues of policy-making (local, national, and global). These chapters explore a remarkable array of vastly different subjects and efforts related to poverty reduction—medical care, microfinance, the impact of the rise of supermarkets in the third world, agriculture, education, literacy, international trade, debt relief, and global policies. Both theoreticians and hands-on providers have their say. They explain what they need from one another, why, and how both stand to benefit by moving from isolation to cooperation. They question received wisdom and provoke important questions: How does one define need and set priorities? How does one design an effective program, and how would you design and measure assessments to know if you had? What does genuine and healthy partnership look like between rich first-world providers and poor third-world recipients? What are the similarities and differences between urban and rural contexts?
Private donors who want to do more than write a check, relief organizations, and churches committed to specifically Christian approaches to global poverty, made more fashionable with Jeffrey Sachs's recent book The End of Poverty (2005), will benefit personally and institutionally from the collective wisdom and expertise gathered here. Another outcome of the original conference is a website that gives further help with connections, conferences, seminars, training sessions, and other resources. See http://www.gordon.edu/ACE/devconnect/devconnectWelcome.html. Given the vast needs that overwhelm limited resources, good stewardship demands the sort of hard thinking and creative collaboration that this book models. It also provides a fine example that other disciplines might follow in law, politics, education, science, engineering, and business.