Lauren Robinson, Long-term Volunteer
How would you describe the mission of our partner in The Philippines?
About the UCCP:
The United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) is an indigenous evangelical church formed by the union of Protestant Mission churches and institutions in 1948. This union includes the Presbyterian, Philippine Methodist, Brethren, Disciples and Congregational Churches. It is a vibrant and diverse community of 500,000 members with 1,500 pastors in 3,112 local churches and worship congregations all over the Philippines. They work for human rights, justice, peace, and the integrity of creation.
How do you fit into their mission?
I partner with two highly successful organizations in the Philippines: Gender Watch Against Violence and Exploitation (GWAVE) and Youth Advocates Through Theater Arts. They don't need me, but I hope to share what I can and to learn a great deal.
What led you to engage in this calling?
In January of 2016, I was fortunate to be able to travel to the Philippines to learn about the work combating human trafficking. I was impressed by and want to imitate Filipino models for partnership between NGO's and churches in the work of fighting trafficking. I was humbled by the advocacy I observed, the creativity of youth, and the resilience of the communities that I visited and wanted to return to learn more.
Is there a passage of scripture that carries special meaning in your daily work?
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
The larger context of this verse is that an anointed person is called to bring good news to the poor and the oppressed. Verse 4 reminds me that the poor and the oppressed will be the initiators of their liberation.
What are some of the challenges facing the people of the Philippines, our partner, or yourself?
One of the biggest problems is that the country has yet to find stability, whether it be in its political leadership or its economy. The country has been controlled by external forces (Spanish and US imperialism) and by a small elite group of wealthy landowners and corporations for hundreds of years. Despite being a democratic republic, the people seem to have little ability to positively influence their country’s destiny because their political leadership has bowed to the interests of the wealthy and powerful, while the largest group remains destined to poverty. Yet, there are many people that try to resist the status quo.
I am learning the local language, Bisaya, but it going slowly.
What is a lesson you have learned from our partner that you feel should be shared with churches in the U.S.?
As I work with young adults and with those that support victims and survivors of violence, people and authentic relationships need to be nurtured above all other aspects of whatever work or ministry needs to be completed.
Which books have influenced your understanding of your country, work, or theology?
- Struggle to be the Sun Again: Introducing Asian Women's Theology by Hyun Kyung Chung
- Theatre of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal
Which films that have influenced your understanding of your country, work, or theology?
These resources have helped me understand the Philippines better: