50th Anniversary

But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. ~ Psalm 33:11

50 Stories ~ A Retrospective

For 50 years World Renew, as CRWRC, has been following God's lead, responding to the needs of people who suffer from poverty, hunger, disaster, and injustice. We hope that in the generations to come God's plans will continue to be realized through CRWRC, our partners, and our participating communities.

During World Renew's 50th Anniversary year, an anniversary story will be shared each week... we look forward to sharing this retrospective with you!

WEEK 50: A SOLID FOUNDATION FOR CHANGE

Creating real change in the lives of individuals, families, and communities is not just about economics. In fact, money and opportunity alone will not lead to the type of transformation that World Renew seeks worldwide. Corrupt leadership, mistreatment of women, exploitation of the vulnerable, squandering of resources and other atrocities can and will continue to occur if relationships between people, God and creation are not renewed by God’s awe-inspiring love and justice...>>more

WEEK 49: HELPING COMMUNITIES PREPARE FOR AND PREVENT DISASTERS

All of the communities where World Renew works in Haiti were affected when Tropical Storm Isaac made landfall in the very early hours of August 24, 2012. The storm brought with it heavy rains and wind. In Haiti’s many mountainous regions, landslides were common. In the low-lying regions, flooding occurred. Throughout the country, homes were destroyed, crops were washed away, and families who had been rebuilding their lives after the devastating 2010 earthquake were set back once again...>>more

WEEK 48: THE LIGHT OF LIFE SHINES IN THE DARKNESS

For 50 years, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now known as World Renew) has worked on behalf of the Christian Reformed Church and others to serve those in most in need all over the world. Often, this places World Renew staff in situations of hardship, risk, and even danger. Yet despite these dangers, World Renew remains confident... >>more

WEEK 47: HELPING GOD'S IMAGE BEARERS

World Renew’s work with the Nkhoma Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Central Africa (NRD) is a great example of this. World Renew began working with NRD in Malawi in 1990. Its main program was to help form groups of 25 to 200 women, and then support those community groups with interventions such as training in health and nutrition, providing goats and seeds, monitoring the weight of young children, and teaching new agricultural techniques. >>more

WEEK 46: THE TWO-WAY STREET OF PARTNERSHIP: AMEXTRA IN MEXICO

One of the goals that World Renew has for its international community partners is that they “graduate” and become able to carry on in their ministry with minimal financial support and guidance from World Renew staff. >>more

WEEK 45: A TWO-PRONGED APPROACH: DISASTER RESPONSE AND DEVELOPMENT IN KENYA

“Drought, floods and civil war created demands for emergency assistance,” said a Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (now known as World Renew) annual report in 1984. 

Together with the newly formed Canadian Foodgrains Bank, World Renew sent $619,000 worth of... >>more

WEEK 44: A CHURCH MOVEMENT IN INDONESIA

What does it mean to be a Christian in Indonesia? According to former World Renew staff member, Iskandar Saher, the answer to this question has been hard to define for generations.

“To become a Christian in Indonesia had almost become synonymous with leaving your culture and customs behind,” said Saher. The early colonial missionary movement encouraged an attitude of ‘Christ against Culture’ and... >>more

WEEK 43: MISSION BY ADVOCACY

How could this have happened? How could we have stopped it? What did we miss? 

These three questions tormented me as I waited for Paul and Mary Kortenhoven to come through Senegalese customs that fall night in 1994. A few days ago I had received an emergency phone call from the US State Department... >>more

WEEK 42: CELEBRATING THE ROOTS OF COMMUNITIES FIRST ASSOCIATION

Allen Avenue Christian Reformed Church (CRC) in Muskegon, Michigan wanted to do something to help the young people in their disadvantaged neighborhood. According to the 2000 Census, of the 40,000 people living in Muskegon, more than 20% live below the poverty line including 27.8% of those under the age of 18. Rather than going at it alone, the church partnered with others in the neighborhood. As a result, they received a $750 grant... >>more

WEEK 41: A DIFFERENT KIND OF VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE

Heather Wind-Mulder has never had a dream of becoming an international missionary. In fact, even travelling internationally isn’t something she has aspired to. But in February 2010, she spent nearly two weeks in Kenya with World Renew (known as CRWRC from 1962-2012) and it changed her life. “My Dad was the one who first heard about CRWRC’s Discovery Tour and strongly encouraged me to go,” she said. >>more

WEEK 40: GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP

On their first morning in Edmonton, AB, Justin Kadyeni, William Mawalela, and Elizabeth Banda woke up to snow. “It was really very fitting,” said Tracy Apoll, of Edmonton about the three visitors from Zambia, “that they’d wake up to a blanket of snow on their first morning here.”

The three individuals from Madzimoyo, Zambia had arrived in Edmonton at the beginning of November in 2010... >>more

WEEK 39: TO DO JUSTICE AND TO LOVE KINDNESS

What does it take to put things right? World Renew takes this question seriously. Over the past 50 years, World Renew staff have learned that to help people in need is not just a matter of teaching people to read, digging wells, or providing agriculture training. Putting things right also requires an examination of the structural issues that keep people in poverty, and advocating on behalf of others.  >>more

WEEK 38: A LEGACY OF FARMING AND FAITHFULNESS

World Renew’s fifty year history is filled with stories of the men, women, and children who make its ministry possible. Many people have made supporting World Renew a lifelong habit – starting with their childhood Sunday School offering, up through a high school mission trip, then contributing financially to a disaster appeal, and maybe even volunteering for World Renew during their retirement. Peter VanderZaag of Alliston, Ontario is a great example. His service to World Renew spans almost 40 years – and several countries. >>more

WEEK 37: CALLED TO BE SENT

Elly Dalmaijer says she and her husband, Jack, “never plan anything... we just live life as it goes.” It’s a formula that in the past 12 years has taken the St. Albert, Alberta, couple to 12 countries as volunteer International Relief Managers with the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, now known as World Renew, to bring assistance when and where disaster strikes. >>more

WEEK 36: THE JOY OF LITERACY

“I can now read from my Bible and sing from the hymnbook,” said Elfarazia Phiri, a married woman from Tsangao district, Mozambique. “Now that I can read and do math, I hope to start a small business so I can support my two children.”

Elfariazia and 14 other adults from her community recently graduated from the literacy class run by the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), now known as World Renew, and its partner the Reformed Church of Mozambique (IRM).  >>more

 

WEEK 35: KWIRK, THE CRWRC CHIPMUNK

"It is never too early for children to learn about the needy in the world. It's never too early to challenge them to respond to those in need as Christians. It's never too early to teach stewardship principles." 

This statement in the 1983 annual report of CRWRC (now known as World Renew) was part of the launch of a new educational program geared to children. >>more
 

WEEK 34: A HARVEST OF HOPE IN DROUGHT-STRICKEN WEST AFRICA

For nearly ten years, women in West Africa* have been meeting together, pooling small amounts of their income, and investing in each other’s small businesses. When drought wiped out their crops earlier this year, however, it also threatened to wipe out the capital these women had worked so hard to save. Thanks to food....  >> more

 

WEEK 33: RETURNING HOME AFTER KATRINA

Returning Home after Katrina On August 29, 2005, Wesley Thomas left for his job in the dispatch and readier room of the oil company he worked for just like any other normal day - but it wasn’t a normal day. As the rains and winds of Hurricane Katrina poured down on Louisiana, the levee in New Orleans broke and Thomas and thousands of others became stranded....  >>more

WEEK 32: GENDER EQUALITY AND THE WORK OF CRWRC

When the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) and its partner, the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP), began programs in Samuel village in Zambia several years ago, the community did not allow women to lead or make decisions.  For example when they were asked to choose an Agricultural Volunteer...  >>more

 

WEEK 31: MINISTRY AND THE CITY - CRWRC'S WORK IN CHICAGO

Chicago – the windy city – has a special place in CRWRC’s heart and history. “In the 1960’s, CRWRC had its headquarters in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. Its primary focus was warehousing clothing and other donated items, which were collected and then sent to Korea and other war-torn or disaster-afflicted countries,” said Jay VanGroningen, former CRWRC staff member...  >>more

WEEK 30: WORKING FOR RENEWAL IN LAOS

Walking up a mountainside in the early morning mist in Laos, you may be greeted with a friendly Hmong phrase “Nyo ko tue,” which means “where are you going?” It is a question that the government of the People’s Democratic Republic of Laos is also asking itself. The country is currently one of the world’s least developed countries....  >>more

WEEK 29: FIGHTING HUNGER FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS

Each year in early October, deacons and church secretaries in Christian Reformed congregations across North America go into their storage closets and church basements to pull out boxes of orange plastic fish. By mid-October, the fish-shaped banks become a source of energy and excitement as Sunday school children and their parents fill them with coins...  >>more

 

WEEK 28: EIGHT YEARS AFTER THE SOUTH ASIA TSUNAMI

When a massive 8.6 earthquake hit this year off the shores of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia on April 11, 2012, the communities in Banda Aceh where CRWRC had been working during the tsunami, knew exactly what to do. As they sounded a tsunami alert and evacuated everyone from their villages along specially designed roads, they were fearfully reminded of another earthquake and tsunami that had occurred eight years earlier with devastating results.  >>more

 

WEEK 27: REASONS TO CELEBRATE ON SOUTH SUDAN'S FIRST BIRTHDAY

"On July 9, the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate its first birthday as an independent country. As the world’s newest country, South Sudan faces many challenges as it forms a new government, develops laws, and redevelops infrastructure that was destroyed by decades of civil war. The people of South Sudan - primarily  >>more

 

WEEK 26: A TIME TO SERVE

“I’m pretty sure I will be taking off the same amount of time next year,” said Don Helleman of Lindsay, Ontario after spending four weeks in Alabama earlier this year. The 31 year-old construction worker recently volunteered for a month to lead groups from the Toronto, Ontario area as they built a house for an Alabaman family that had lost their home and loved ones in a tornado. “Even knowing the amount of work that will build up while I’m gone...   >>more

 

WEEK 25: MINISTRY FROM THE TRUE NORTH

Winters in the small, rural community of Iron Springs, Alberta can be cold and isolating for its senior citizens. That is one of the reasons why the deacons of Iron Springs Christian Reformed Church (CRC) have a tradition of buying a gift for each of its senior members and delivering them during the Christmas season. In 2011, however, the seniors didn’t get their traditional flowers or fruit baskets. Instead, they received goats – and they couldn’t have been happier.  >>more

 

WEEK 24: THE POWER OF PARTNERSHIPS

When the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) begins working in a new community, it doesn’t go alone. In fact, in nearly all of the countries where CRWRC carries out long-term community development programs, it does so alongside local partner organizations.  >>more

 

WEEK 23: TWENTY YEARS OF FREEING FAMILIES FROM POVERTY

“I still remember Babu Ali standing with his mom the first time we met the family,” recalls Kohima Daring, staff member in Bangladesh for the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC).  >>more

 

WEEK 22: FINDING NEEDLES IN A HAYSTACK

The Birth of CRWRC’s Disaster Needs Assessment Program Although it was been over nine months since Hurricane Irene hit the East Coast of the United States, many are still recovering from its devastating blow. A team of Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) volunteers recently traveled to Morristown, New Jersey not to clear debris or rebuild flood...  >>more

WEEK 21: GOD'S GRACE IN A GRAIN OF AMARANTH

Throughout the past 50 years, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) has proven to be a key leader in agricultural programming around the world. In 1999, CRWRC added a new resource to its legacy of agricultural success: a plant called amaranth...  >>more

 

WEEK 20: THE STORY OF PARTNERS WORLDWIDE

Active in over 20 countries today, the vision for Partners Worldwide began in 1992 in Nairobi, Kenya, when a group of North American business people travelled to see first-hand the community development work they were supporting financially through CRWRC.  >>more

WEEK 19: AGRICULTURE PROGRAMS BEGAN WITH MILK AND A BOARD MEMBER

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee’s (CRWRC) legacy of life-changing agricultural programs began with milk and a board member. In 1965, at an annual CRWRC board meeting, Peter Feddema learned about a great shortage of milk in South Korea.   >>more

WEEK 18: LESSONS LEARNED IN AGUA CALIENTE

Part of the mission of the Christian Reformed Church is to “transform lives and communities worldwide,” but what does it really mean to transform a community? The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) has been exploring this important question as part of its community development ministry for the past 50 years. There have been trials and mistakes, as well as awe-inspiring successes along the way. The community of Agua Caliente, along the North coast of Honduras is a prime example...  >>more

WEEK 17: EQUIPPING THE CAMBODIAN CHURCH

“We’ve taken the bold step of offering hope to the poor in Cambodia,” CRWRC stated in their 1996 annual report, introducing supporters to its newest ministry field.  At that time, Cambodia was one of the poorest countries in the world. One in every five children died before reaching his or her fifth birthday, the average life expectancy was only 49 years, and two out of every three people could not read or write...   >>more

WEEK 16: THE POWER OF VOLUNTEERS

"This is one of the most enriching and amazing experiences of my life!" enthused Sarah DeGraff on her blog recently. The 24-year-old Grand Rapids native wrote from her new home in Managua, Nicaragua, where she is volunteering through CRWRC for on eyear with CRWRC's partner, the Nehemiah Center.  DeGraff is assisting with a pilot project focused on preventing human trafficking...   >>more 

WEEK 15: NEW LIFE FOR VIETNAM REFUGEES

When residents in Vancouver, British Columbia, turn on the morning news, they might see Ann Luu, a traffic specialist for CTV. While Luu easily guides them through the day’s traffic congestion, the journey of her own life is one with many complicated twists. It started with a flight from war-torn Vietnam and included a childhood as a newcomer to Canada who didn’t speak the language or know what to expect.  >>more

WEEK 14: STANDING ON GOD'S WORD - THE MINISTRY OF MOISES COLOP IN GUATEMALA

On February 4, 1976, a 7.5 magnitude earthquake rocked the Latin American country of Guatemala. Because the quake occurred in the early morning hours, most people were still asleep in their adobe style houses. These structures came crashing down: many were completely destroyed and more than 23,000 people lost their lives.  >>more

WEEK 13: FROM PIGS TO PATIENCE - SHAPING CRWRC'S VALUES

“There is nothing like living for a time in a different culture to broaden your horizons or change your value system,” said Fred Schuld who served with CRWRC in the Philippines from 1970-1974. Schuld’s mission in going to the Philippines was to help local families increase their household income...  >>more

WEEK 12: FROM RUSTY NAILS TO REMEMBRANCE

When CRWRC Disaster Response Services volunteers completed work on the home of Joan Alvarado and her son, Dennis, they held a celebration ceremony. The Alvarado home had been damaged by a tornado in April of last year. While the family received some financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, it wasn’t enough to repair everything that had been damaged. CRWRC stepped in and sent teams of green-shirted volunteers to scrub, paint, install a new roof, put in new windows, replace damaged floors and walls, and even build a wheelchair accessible bathroom.  >>more

WEEK 11: PROTECTING THE SEED RICE - THE ORIGINS OF THE FOODS RESOURCE BANKS

Protecting the Seed Rice:  The Origins of the Foods Resource Bank “The seed rice will be eaten!” was the worried greeting I received on one of my visits to Sierra Leone in the mid-1990’s. I was CRWRC’s West Africa Regional Director at the time, and while no one was yet admitting the country was at war, rebel attacks were growing more frequent growing more frequent even in the communities where CRWRC...  >>more

WEEK 10: CANADIAN FARMERS FEEDING FAMILIES

In the fall of 2011, Bill DeBoer looked over the 100 acres of land that he and other local farmers had harvested and a smile crept onto his face. Together with about 20 community farmers, as well as local agribusinesses in the Lambton County area of Ontario, DeBoer had planted and harvested 70 acres of wheat and 30 acres of soybeans to help people in need...  >>more

WEEK 9: THE BIRTH OF CRWRC DISASTER RESPONSE SERVICES

It all began with a storm. On June 11, 1972, a huge rainstorm dumped 11 inches of rain within a few hours on Rapid City, South Dakota. Flash floods poured through the city. A dam collapsed, sending a wall of water through the streets. More than 300 people died.  >>more

WEEK 8: CRWRC INTERNSHIP FORGES FRIENDSHIP FOR LIFE

They came from different parts of North America, with different backgrounds and interests, but the experiences that Roxanne de Graaf Addink and Janet Phillips (nee Vliegenthart) would share over a two year period in Kenya 23 years ago would unite them for life.  >>more

WEEK 7: THE BIRTH OF MISSISSIPPI CHRISTIAN FAMILY SERVICES

“I thank God when I stand on the porch of my three-room shack watching two of my six children go to pre-school,” one woman wrote to CRWRC in 1986. “I am 26 years old, and I want them to have a better life than I’ve had. Thank you for providing Mississippi Christian Family Services with the resources to help me.” >>more

WEEK 6: EQUIPPING THE GLOBAL CHURCH TO FIGHT AIDS

In December 2011, hundreds of men and women gathered together and waited in line to be tested for HIV at an event organized by CRWRC and a local church and women’s group in Dakar, Senegal. This is just one of many examples of how the Church worldwide has become engaged in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Yet, it wasn’t always this way.  >>more

WEEK 5: ONE CHURCH, ONE COUNTRY - CRC MINISTRY IN SIERRA LEONE

“Christian Extension Services has helped our communities like no other organization,” said a resident of Seriah-Karawani village in Sierra Leone, “We’ve learned not to look at our differences anymore, but what do we have in common and work for a common goal together. Unity is important.”  >>more

WEEK 4: FLIGHTS TO HER FUTURE

Ileana Lamberts remembers the two flights that would change her life forever. The first was from her grandparents’ home in Havana, Cuba, to an unknown future in the U.S. The second was from the warm southern city of Miami to a new home in the land of the “white monster." The white monster was how the Cuban refugees referred to snow.  >>more

WEEK 3: BEING A GOOD SAMARITAN TO REFUGEES IN MIAMI

In 1959, Fidel Castro led a revolution to overthrow the government of Cuba. In the succeeding years as Castro adopted a philosophy of communism, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left Cuba and came to the United States to begin a new life. As they arrived in Miami, Florida, many were greeted by and received assistance from members of the Christian Reformed Church through a ministry known as the Good Samaritan Center.  >>more

WEEK 2: FINDING HOMES FOR WAR ORPHANS IN KOREA

For many years, CRWRC’s name was synonymous with the Christian Adoption Program of Korea (CAPOK). Following the Korean War (1950-1953), many Korean children were left orphaned. Some were children of the estimated two million Korean civilians killed during the war. Others were “GI babies” fathered by western soldiers and Korean women.  >>more

WEEK 1: A COMPASS FOR MY LIFE

“I was about nine or ten years old when CRWRC came to my hometown of Pignon,” said 42 year-old Christian Jean-Pierre. The Haitian man now lives in the Leogane area of Haiti, where his path crossed with CRWRC’s earthquake response team in 2011. As he talked with CRWRC staff, his love for CRWRC and the impact that the organization had on his life was easily apparent.   >>more