Like eagles with renewed wings in our 60s, we feel re-energized as we were signing up for a new three-year term as church-based peacebuilding workers. We did a content analysis of our current work as partners in this ministry, as married couple, and as fellow professionals in our respective fields. The dominant terms that floated were Peace and Reconciliation, Inclusive Development, and Social Entrepreneurship. Once more, we’re able to define and to clarify the basic concepts and activities involved in our Covenant of Service (2021-2024) with Mennonite Church Canada Witness. We are grateful for this blessing and are excited to be entrusted with an exciting set of field responsibilities.

We are grateful to God, to our sending Church, to our partner congregations and individuals for entrusting us with another three years to serve as peacebuilders in the Philippines. PeaceBuilders Community Centre, Juna Subdivision, Matina Crossing, Davao City, Philippines. 31 May 2021.

Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) is the heart of our ministry. The concept of peace is understood here as: harmony with the Creator (spiritual transformation); harmony with our being (psycho-social transformation); harmony with others (socio-political transformation); and, harmony with the creation (economic-ecological transformation). Reconciliation, according to John Paul Lederach, is focused on “building relationships between antagonists; the primary goal is to seek innovative ways to create a time and a place to address, to integrate, and to embrace the painful past and the necessary shared future as a means of dealing with the present.” PAR governs our long-term strategic plans, our quarterly goals, and our weekly activities.

Inclusive Development is our major partnership approach in reaching out to communities. For us, inclusive development means (a) experiencing broader access to opportunities to ensure that members of society can participate and benefit from holistic human development – that is, shalom-salaam; (b) enjoying a high, regenerative growth to create and expand economic opportunities; and, (c) having social safety nets to prevent extreme deprivation.

Social Entrepreneurship is the practical path we take towards sustainable and regenerative partnership. We understand social entrepreneurship as creating and building businesses that make money and work toward improving the peace and reconciliation journey of our land. By selling quality goods and services to consumers, which we determine through market research, we seek to help solve conflicts in our land in a sustainable way. We demonstrate this through Coffee for Peace, our social business.

While we start with sustainability—which is the ability to maintain ecological systems at a certain rate or level—we want to seek regenerative development as a foundational principle in this initiative. By regenerative, we mean a normal process of self-reproduction, renewal, or restoration of an ecological system toward a better, higher, or more worthy state.

PAR Community Building

Imagine. By December 31st, 2030, each of our provinces will have a circle of leaders called Peace and Reconciliation (PAR) Communities! They would serve as the catalysts to organize PAR Teams in their municipalities or cities. These PAR Teams, in turn, would serve as radical transformation volunteers in their respective families, churches, neighbourhoods, villages, cities or municipalities. The PAR Teams would also get involved in PAR Programs that are relevant to their specific context.

We have introduced Peace and Reconciliation Principles and Practices in 33 out of 81 provinces in the Philippines as of August 2020 — 20 in Mindanao, 4 in Visayas, 9 in Luzon. But we still have to nurture these PAR Communities so that they would be firmly rooted in the respective soils of their socio-historical contexts.

Here are some photos of PAR community organizing and developments in the last 3 years:

Inclusive Development.

At the forefront of this endeavour is clarifying what inclusiveness means. Is it equity? Empowerment? Opportunities? Participation? Satisfaction? A combination of these? Or something else?

At PeaceBuilders Community, we see inclusion as a process and as a goal. We do not, however, close our eyes to diversity as a fact of life. Difference is normal. Some people are excluded from society because of difference. Difference can be due to a range of factors, some universal, some cultural and context specific. To achieve inclusion, a twin track approach is needed: (a) Focus on the society to remove the barriers that exclude; (b) Focus on the group of persons who are excluded, to build their capacity and support them to lobby for their inclusion.

Because inclusion involves everyone in society at all levels, collaboration and networking are core strategies to achieve inclusion.

Social Entrepreneurship

This is all about “recognizing the social problems and achieving a social change by employing entrepreneurial principles, processes and operations,” according to Marie Liza Dacanay, President at the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship in Asia (ISEA) and Joji’s mentor. We start by making a research to completely define a particular social problem and then organizing, creating and managing a social venture, like Coffee for Peace, to attain the desired change. We’re aware that the change may or may not include a thorough elimination of a social problem. We always tell our partner communities that it will take a lifetime process praying for, and working towards, the improvement of the existing circumstances.

Peace and Reconciliation. Inclusive Development. Social Entrepreneurship.These are the major concepts and principles influencing our missional activities here in the Philippines.

Thank you — our local, national, and international partners — for your love through friendship and partnership.

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We are sent by Mennonite Church Canada Witness in partnership with our international community.