The Myth of The Underserving Poor

This book should help Christians help others. It was written by Martin Charlesworth and Natalie Williams who serve Jubilee+, a Newfrontiers initiative to help churches serve their communities.

It starts with a potted history of care for the poor in the UK, then presents research which shows that where we get our perceptions of poverty from may not be the sources we expect. The great challenge of this section is to examine our assumptions/prejudices and bring them under the light of God's Word. Charlesworth and Williams then do this for us by presenting an indisputable case for Christian mercy from the Bible, followed by a description of key values and principles for practice. Among the recommended resources is The Cinnamon Network, which connects churches with social action enterprises.

The Myth of The Underserving Poor prefers data to individual stories, and the stunning truth of the gospel to emotional blackmail, making it challenging and hard to argue with. The risk of writing such a book is that it will only be read by those who already agree with it - though they will likely find in it fresh encouragement and ideas to work out their convictions. To those unconcerned, this is an opportunity to hear the strong words God has for those in need and those who neglect them.

Here are some quotes from it to get you thinking:
"God’s initial dealings with those in need are always characterised by unconditional mercy… We mustn’t slip into the temptation to ask people to change before we help them. That is a deeply unbiblical response."
"The nature of mercy is that has nothing to do with the recipient and everything to do with the one being merciful."
"When Christians think or talk about poverty in Britain, we must not let our minds lazily leap to stereotypes, to examples on the extreme needs of the spectrum, or to pithy but ill-conceived soundbites. When we do this, our mouths perpetrate myths, our hearts become hardened and our hands hang limply in inaction."