Building upon years of frontline research and personal involvement in poverty alleviation and economics, Bruce Wydick presents his latest book as a resource for those who are passionate about addressing poverty in biblically-based, e ective ways. Wydick is professor of economics and international studies at the University of San Francisco and is widely published in the area of economic development.
Wydick uses his role as the lead investigator of the worldwide impact study of Compassion International’s child sponsorship program to develop a book that serves as a tool for Christians who are passionate about being what he calls “Shrewd Samaritans.” This phrase is based on an intersection of two parables of Jesus: the Good Samaritan and the Shrewd Manager.
Using these two stories as his Biblical foundation, the author helps those who desire to love their “global neighbor” by explaining how we can harness “the resources at our disposal . . . on behalf of those who are victims of injustice, disease, violence, and poverty” (14)fi
Upon introducing his central Shrewd Samaritan concept, Wydick focuses on three areas for the book. He spends several chapters revealing proper understandings of poverty as well as effective (and ineffective) poverty interventions before bringing these ingredients together in his nal product of explaining how the reader can use this information to become a Shrewd Samaritan.
He begins this tripartite progression by explaining his view on the journey most people take to becoming a global neighbor and Shrewd Samaritan. This journey consists of the “Six I” words: ignorance, indifference, idealism, investigation, introspection, and impact. His stated goal is to help the reader better discern where each of us is in this journey, as well as to move individuals farther down the path toward impact and global neighboring.
Throughout chapters three to ve, Wydick helps readers to have a better understanding of what poverty involves, as well as the multiple, convoluted factors that contribute to it on individual and community levels.
In perhaps the most eye-opening section of the book, the reader is presented with mountains of data and research in chapters six through nine about what does and does not work in addressing the injustice of poverty—both domestically and internationally.
Wydick then arrives at the central goal of the book across his final three chapters by producing a picture of how the reader can live as a Shrewd Samaritan in a hyper-globalized world. He concludes with a call to action for Christians, complete with tangible steps based upon the research presented throughout the book. In the popular book genre of Christian social justice and poverty work, Wydick contributes to the conversation with a unique voice. While authors can tooo ften build their poverty-focused books around a handful of anecdotal stories and cherry-picked stats, Bruce Wydick uses his own research as the bedrock upon which he builds the central arguments and convictions of Shrewd Samaritan. This focus on data as the driver for strategies and practical steps is the strength of this book and the key to why this publication is essential in our conversations as Christians working against the evil of poverty.
From rating individual approaches to poverty (such as fair-trade co ee and child sponsorships) to examining the multiple facets of the cycle of poverty, Wydick has produced a book that is lean on stories and heavy with thorough, research-based statistics on poverty interventions. This emphasis on research, however, is woven together well by his explanations of how the data applies to an aspiring Shrewd Samaritan.
Wydick presents the Christian community with an important challenge in the area of poverty alleviation by presenting a convincing call to become Shrewd Samaritans. He calls us to love others with our hearts (Good Samaritan) and our heads (Shrewd Manager). And, in laying out such a challenge, he has created an essential tool for any Christian who desires to do good—and to do good well—as we participate in God’s in-breaking kingdom throughout the world.