Small Solutions with Big Impact

Steve Otradovec

World Challenge’s partners in the Philippines are finding innovative ways to help people in the church survive the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. 

Last year, the Covid epidemic hit Southeast Asia with a vengeance, their economies in particular. Part of this is because many people in this region rely on the tourism industry for their livelihood.

According to the Philippine Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, more than 4.8 million people in the Philippines were negatively impacted. She further noted that “Seventy-seven percent of international tourism revenues year on year have been lost due to the ban on international tourist arrivals.”

This abrupt economic shift has been hard enough for middle class families, but for those who were already on the brink of poverty, the situation has been deeply frightening.  

A Leader in Service

Several communities near Cebu City, a bustling tourism hub, were already struggling with poverty before the pandemic. Our partner has been working there for many years, training bi-vocational pastors and church volunteers in evangelism and community development.

When the country went into lockdown, tourists were unable to visit, and the jobs these pastors and their congregants held were gone. Restaurant servers, security guards, drivers and hotel workers went from modestly employed to jobless almost overnight.

In response, we began working with our local partner to train the pastors and church volunteers in “Kingdom Business,” or simple entrepreneurial work. World Challenge came alongside and offered them more than 100 ideas for supplemental livelihood concepts that were simple, had low entry cost and were tailored to participants’ individual contexts. Once the trainees finished the class, they were tasked with choosing a livelihood idea and developing a simple business plan.

One of the ladies in the training group, Joy, is the sole breadwinner for her family. She was earning about $120 per month working as a caregiver, and she was doing this not only professionally but also for her husband, a disabled diabetic, and a five-year old orphan they had adopted. If all of that were not enough, she volunteers as the cleaner and women’s leader at her church.

In so many ways, Joy epitomizes servant leadership and the love of Christ.

The Salt of the Earth

After the training, Joy fully invested herself in a small business that could provide additional income for her struggling family. She developed a business plan on making and selling salted eggs, received a start-up loan of $45 and began producing enough eggs to increase her family income by 40 percent each month.

Joy is just one of many participants who benefited from the training offered by our partners. Other people who participated started selling fruit, meat, snacks and cell phone cards, while others are raising pigs or making products like soya and soap. Empowerment and improved livelihoods are key tools in World Challenge’s endeavor to end poverty and care for the poor.

We give thanks constantly for people like Joy who are the salt of the earth (and of the egg) in the Philippines. We pray for continued blessings on the people who are seizing God-given opportunities for a better life and for people like you who make this ministry possible.