On June 30, 2011, World Renew bid a formal farewell (‘Paalam’ in Tagalog) to a rich partnership that has been part of the Christian Reformed Church in North America for forty years. Starting in 1970 World Renew began working with communities and partners in the Philippines, including the deacons of the Christian Reformed Church of the Philippines (CRCP).

“Since World Renew began working with the CRCP, a vibrant diaconate has developed,” says World Renew Asia team leader Tom Post. “It’s been a blessing to witness the hospitable, merciful, evangelistic enthusiasm that has grown out of the CRCP from the 1970s until now,” Post says. “When Philippine deacons do their work in communities, they meet up with Jesus.”

Over the years, CRC members in North America have contributed to a broad spectrum of programs and projects through CRC agencies and Philippine partners such as the Asia Theological Seminary and organizations like the Christian Convergence for Good Governance (CCGG), the Alliance of Christian Development Agencies (ACDA), and Dalsaka—a church planting and community development organization that works among poor communities in the southern portion of the country.  

“CCGG has become a Christian catalyst in the struggle against corruption,” Post says, “empowering Christian pastors and congregations to anonymously report cases of corruption and to advocate for Micah Challenge goals in their parishes. ACDA has become a teacher of respectful dialogue education and results-focused programming among the Christian organizations that comprise its membership.”

In keeping with its mission to build up sustainable community organizations in developing countries around the world, World Renew gradually began to decrease its contributions to funding and consulting in the Philippines as our partners matured, and planned a 2012 field departure date.  But in the last 18 months, several events occurred that pushed ahead the end of World Renew’s involvements there. The global economic recession and resulting budget reductions within World Renew, and the sudden death of long-time World Renew Philippines staff person Joe Lamigo in 2009 all led World Renew to advance its funding phase-down to June 30, 2011.

“I’m grateful that World Renew was able to move up the end of our community development work in the Philippines without affecting the stability of our partners,” Post says. “Helping organizations develop funding sources and financial expertise is part of World Renew’s capacity building work. It contributes to organizing local resources and improves people’s lives and it’s sustainable. Our partners know from the beginning that if they are successful, they will eventually become independent of our support, as difficult as that transition may be for all of us.”   

World Renew won’t withdraw from community development involvements in the Philippines altogether, but will continue relationships of mutual learning once the current funding and staffing phase-down are complete. “These organizations have taken up the torch for World Renew,” Post says, “and they now become teachers to us.”

The financial resources that become available at the end of the formal relationship with Philippine partners will be used by World Renew in other countries in the region that have less organizational capacity and more acute poverty.

While World Renew is gradually ending its development presence in the Philippines, not all of the agency’s disaster mitigation involvements in the country will cease completely either. The Philippines is subject to an annual typhoon cycle, which prompted the CRCP to develop a strong disaster risk reduction program on a classis-by-classis basis. In the coming year, World Renew staff in the Asia region will begin to flush out an ongoing partnership in disaster response that builds on these existing plans.

In April 2011, Tom Post, World Renew representatives from the U.S. and Canada, Christian Reformed World Missions, and the CRCNA Interchurch Relations Committee attended a three-day celebration in Manila to bid ‘Paalam’ to 40 years of partnership and began to build new avenues of mutual inspiration, volunteerism, and growth with the Christian Reformed brothers and sisters of the Philippines.  In that way, this ‘Paalam’ is also a ‘Kita-kits.’ See you soon!