Understanding poverty is so key in shaping our response to need in the world—and keeping us out of the all-too-common pitfalls of aid. We asked Compassion leaders from around the world what books have revolutionized their understanding of poverty. Grab one of these books, a cup of tea, and start learning about how you can bring revolutionary change to this world!

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1. When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett

Recommended by Barry Slauenwhite, Compassion Canada President and CEO

“This is one of my all-time favourites on the topic of poverty and missions. Over the past 35 years of firsthand experience in missions and poverty alleviation, I have come to understand one startling reality: we need a better template to mobilize and engage the Canadian Church when it comes to interacting with and helping those in poverty. When Helping Hurts gives a framework from which we can have a much greater impact. ”

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2. Toxic Charity by Robert D. Lupton

Recommended by Richard Muliisa, Compassion Rwanda Program Support Manager

“One of my favourite quotes on poverty comes from this book: ‘Giving to those in need what they could be gaining from their own initiatives may well be the kindest way to destroy people.'”

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3. Friendship at the Margins by Chris Heuertz and Christine Pohl

Recommended by Allison Alley, Compassion Canada President Elect  

“This book explores the importance of mutuality and reciprocity in mission. The concept of mutuality has become central in my understanding of how we as Christians need to approach any response to poverty. It means recognizing our commonality as human beings no matter our income level—we each need one another and we each have something beautiful to give.”

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4. Left Behind: Chronic poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean by Renos Vakis, Jamele Rigolini and Leonardo Lucchetti

Recommended by Brenda Rivas, Compassion El Salvador Program Support Manager

“This book taught me that we are bearers of hope. We are transmitters of hope. We are life givers in Jesus! Poverty does not have to be an impediment for children and young people to achieve God’s purpose in their lives.”

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5. Too Small to Ignore by Dr. Wess Stafford

Recommended by Ezekiel Moses, Compassion Tanzania Manager of Partnership

“Dr. Stafford delivers the very important message of valuing children, without considering the background of the child. This is the exact message we find in Mathew 19:14. Children are small, but they are not to be ignored. They are too important and dearly loved by God. We as Christians are called to speak up for them.”

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Written by: Amber Van Schooneveld

Amber Van Schooneveld is the Editorial and Content Development Lead for Compassion Canada. She loves donuts, the mountains, travel, and connecting people around the world to end poverty.