Posted by: goingfaraway | November 2, 2011

To v. For v. With

I have a new obsession, and it’s not hiking, playing bluegrass music, or running. It’s a book that changed the way I think and messed me up forever (in the best way possible):

Rather than summarizing the entire book for you, I recommend that you just read it. Every Christian (especially the American variety) should read it. And I don’t say that about many books. So, I’m serious. Read it. Jesus had true compassion for the broken and poor. His first time speaking in the synagogue he read from Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.” If reconciliation mattered so much to Jesus, it should matter to us as His followers as well.

A big concept from this book that has been running through my head for the past few weeks is the to-for-with progression. When helping the poor, we often do things “to” them (feeding a meal), or “for” them (building a house). These both seem good. However, the authors (and their research) demonstrate that we should really aim for “with.” By doing “with” we are empowering the poor rather than enabling them, working alongside them as equals, and not contributing to the poverty cycle (which, ironically enough, is what throwing money to the poor – the typical American solution – results in so much of the time). 

Monday I helped at a soup kitchen. “To-for-with” was running through my head. I was plopping mashed potatoes on plates trying to figure out how this noble endeavor by area churches could be transformed from a to/for ministry into a with ministry. I was kind of frustrated [do you understand why I said before that this book had ruined me?! I was at a soup kitchen, for Pete’s sake! Isn’t that good enough? No, ma’am]. When it came time to clean up after the meal, the tables were literally turned on us as a few of the regulars grabbed brooms and rags and preceded to wipe down eating surfaces, stack chairs and sweep the dining room. We were all in the cleaning up process together. We were doing with

If you get around to reading this book (which I highly suggest that you do – did I get that point across?) Please let me know what you think. Or if you don’t get to read it but have ideas of how we can encourage our christian communities to spend more time on “with” activities, I would love to hear from you.






  1. Hi Kara!
    I’m glad the Lord gave you a new destination….Colorado! As a Mom, my heart goes out to your parents…but it is truly a mixed bag…excited for you but missing you in the process….”parenting isn’t for cowards”( thank you James Dobson for the quote!)

    Okay, so i am still digesting the Christianity article and now you throw another my way…what are you trying to do….shake up my world!? 🙂

    This does look like a good book! I will get it and read it! I recently read(most of it) Pagan Christianity….that shakes things up too!

    I got a book, maybe you have heard of it, “What am I Waiting For?”..Dannah Gresh. Great book for young singles…leans toward a female perspective, but applicable to both sexes.

    Looking forward to your travels and hearing how the Lord helps you to “work with” others!

    Julie Brennan

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