Elena has seen the power of the Reformed Collaborative in action during some of her hardest moments. Together, groups from the Christian Reformed Church and Reformed Church in America worked through World Renew to bring Elena some hope.
Nearly 18 months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed her hometown of Union Beach, N.J., Elena’s home was still unlivable because of extreme water damage.
“Just because the houses look okay from the outside doesn’t mean they are in safe and livable condition,” says Harry Pangemanan, an outreach coordinator on staff at Reformed Church of Highland Park, N.J.
Elena spent her time just after the storm helping her neighbors. When she finally began checking the damage to her own home, she found that it was much worse than she’d thought.
“The studs in the basement were basically waving in the breeze,” said Jim Homan, who led a World Renew group mission trip from his church, Ann Arbor (Mich.) CRC. “Mold was setting in.”
Elena found help as World Renew Disaster Response Services (DRS), in collaboration with the Reformed Church of Highland Park, began sending volunteer groups to assist her and her community.
More than 595 volunteers giving 52,777 hours of their time came to serve in New Jersey with World Renew, some from Christian Reformed churches and others from the RCA.
After Synod 2013, World Renew officially became the RCA’s primary partner for compassion ministry in domestic disaster response. The two denominations also partner in international disaster response and development.
This agreement allows people like Elena to be reached more effectively.
A team of nine members from Ann Arbor CRC volunteered with World Renew and spent a week putting up drywall and replacing one of the sides of Elena’s home. They also installed some insulation and windows.
When they left, the house was much improved but there was still work to be done. Homan, the group’s leader, wrote a note blessing the next group that would arrive from Westwood RCA in Muskegon, Mich. That group took care of more drywall, and, after a second week of work, the repairs on Elena’s house were nearly complete.
For more than 40 years, teams from the CRC and RCA have partnered in disaster response, but the recent official partnership has allowed even more opportunities for collaboration.
“Working together really captures that we are a church that’s global,” says Ida Kaastra Mutoigo, codirector of World Renew.
“We belong together; we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Through that testimony of working together, we can display the kind of community that we wish the world to have.”