ISACC as a research and training organization combines its academic interests with a strong practical engagement through its political advocacy and community transformation programs.
Its track record in advocacy and popular education for good governance includes creating an intellectual and theological climate that has moved evangelical churches and communities towards cultural awareness and social responsibility, and the organizing and leading of KONFES (Konsiensya ng Febrero Siete), a coalition of evangelicals present at the barricades during the 1986 People Power Revolution. It likewise organized evangelical presence during the 2001 EDSA Dos and was on stage presiding over the communal ritual and prayers when the then Defense Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the military wove their way through the crowd, climbed on stage and announced their defection. This turned the tide and paved the way for the collapse of the ruling President’s regime. For many years, this political advocacy had been mostly funded by ICCO in the Netherlands and EED in Germany.
Notable among its research projects is an evaluation of the effectiveness of homeroom activities among school children in the early ‘80s, commissioned by the Ministry of Education and funded by the World Bank under the government’s PRODED program. The result of this was the scrapping of the homeroom and the institutionalization of value education among school children. During the mid-90s ISACC embarked on a groundbreaking research into the coming of American Protestant Missions the first three decades of the last century, focusing on the intercultural communication miscues in the interface with Filipino religious consciousness. Part of the results had been published in the book, A Clash of Cultures, published by De La Salle University and Anvil Press. This was funded by the PEW Foundation in the US.
In the early years of the last decade, ISACC sent a team to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand to do research in identifying culturally-sensitive exit strategies of international NGOs, funded by Tearfund UK. An ICCO-funded participatory research into the economic empowerment of seven grassroots communities by seven NGOs yielded learnings written up in the book, Rise Up and Walk, Religion and Culture in Empowering the Poor, published by Regnum and the Oxford Center for Mission Studies in the UK.
As a training andcapacity-building organization, it has trained more than 200 churches and faith-based development organizations in community development under its Hasik-Unlad program, which has for its theme, ‘The church as an agent of change.’ Its Transformational Development course has trained hundreds of practitioners and emerging leaders into understanding Integral Mission and development. This program has spawned and inspired the setting up of many faith-based organizations that now serve the poor. ISACC has likewise sent training teams to Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos under the auspices of Open Doors, an organization that serves church communities in restricted contexts.
Less well known is ISACC’s quiet work among grassroots communities. As a learning organization, ISACC from time to time does grassroots work on the ground, to innovate fresh approaches and add to its stock of experiential development knowledge.
Its community development work amongmigrant fisherfolk in Nasugbu, Batangas helped the people resolve their land tenure problems, build a cooperative, and address the lack of off-season income by putting up a women’s savings and loan association that continues to prosper. The capacity-building is such that the leadership of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Kababaihan ng Nasugbu (NLKN) is now able to access funds on their own from international agencies like Tearfund Australia, which funded the original project.
Notable also is its rehabilitation work among Tinggians in Abra, trapped in their hillside barangays in the area called Budabosa – Bukloc, Daguioman, Boliney and Salapaddan. These indigenous communities were cut off without food when crops were destroyed and roads were rendered impassable by landslides during the 1990 earthquake. The people cleared the roads themselves under a food-for-work program, farms were revitalized and five multi-purpose cooperatives were established. All but one are still thriving, long after ISACC has exited the area. One was recognized as the best cooperative in all of Abra some years ago.
More recently, ISACC did capacity-building for an urban poor church and a rehabilitation program for five street children gangs in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, the third largest urban poor settlement in the country. There were 50 or so street gangs within a two-kilometer radius of this teeming community. Starting with the fiercest – the Halik ni Hudas (Kiss of Judas) gang with about 45 members – the psycho-spiritual intervention was such that their evident transformation drew four more gangs. These transformed youth-at-risk served as enough critical mass to foster a culture of peace – the gang wars ceased, and crime and petty theft dropped. The grateful residents contributed towards the support and rehabilitation of these once-violent and delinquent youth. And even if ISACC is not into church-planting, a small church grew out of these nucleus of former street kids and still exists to this day. This work was funded and has been highlighted by Tearfund UK as an example of a truly transformational development effort.
ISACC is at present engaged in a comprehensive and wholistic rehabilitation workin one of the most devastated disaster-stricken communities in Tacloban in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. In partnership with Operation Blessing and Sharing KMBI, this housing and rehabilitation work is an experiment in what it means to do ‘Integral Mission,’ building not just houses but communities, and equipped with all the necessary social and economic services. This follows ISACC’s initial effort at helping disaster survivors to recover through its Psycho-Spiritual Trauma Care program, funded by ICCO in the Netherlands, World Renew and Tearfund New Zealand.