Of late people have been especially focusing on Africa, though it has gotten a certain amount of attention for a long time. We've been sending lots of money and equipment and staples (food, medicine) over there for some time. And it may be killing Africa.
Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati told Spiegel, "...for God's sake, please just stop." He says:
"[Western good intentions] have been damaging our continent for the past 40He says that aid money does not go where it is supposed to go, food shipments only deprive local farmers of their livelihood, and "[teaches Africans] to be beggars and not to be independent."
years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should
finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most
development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the
billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor."
Of course, there are those who disagree with him. It's not my purpose to debate the topic of African aid here. What I want to discuss in discernment in our generosity. Jesus told us to give to whoever asks, but I don't think He meant for us to throw good money down a hole. When in doubt, give, and the Lord will deal with those who asked for money improperly. But "helping" people who don't need what you have robs those who do, and helping in the wrong way may harm the intended beneficiary.
We want to help, and we should, but before you give lots of money to a cause (any cause), you need to ask 1) whether they really need help and 2) whether they really need what you're offering.
Diane at Crossroads has been looking at this question as well.