As a developmental economist, people often ask me, “What can I do as a Christian to really make an impact on world poverty?” Especially as people consider giving and charitable donations during the Christmas season, the question has inspired me to create a list of five of the most dedicated and innovative Christians I have discovered in my work and research in international poverty alleviation. While some of these individuals help lead Christian organizations, others direct what are essentially secular organizations strongly influenced by their faith. Some are well-known in development circles; others have labored for years outside of the public eye. All share in common a dynamic faith that has helped shape innovative approaches to poverty.

They also share a commitment to effectiveness. Not every approach taken by these practitioners has met with instant success. This is okay. Poverty is a tough nut to crack. But through dedication to rigorous evaluation, constant innovation, learning, re-innovation, and the dogged pursuit of excellence in their work, their respective programs share a commitment to genuine impact over feel-good charity.

1. Auyba Guffwan, Director, Beautiful Gate/Wheelchairs for Nigeria.

We sometimes hear the phrases “the poorest of the poor” or “the least of these.” Interested in knowing who they are? They are the disabled in the poorest countries, often rejected as outcasts by their families, left on the street to beg. These beloved human beings are, truly and tragically, the poorest of the poor. There are one billion people living with serious disabilities today, most of them in the developing world.

Ayuba Guffwan is one of my development heroes. Paralyzed from polio at ...

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