The Iglesia Filipina Indeppendiente : Abundant Life

THE IGLESIA FILIPINA INDEPENDIENTE (IFI): ABUNDANT LIFE

Abundant Life is a programme the Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI) set up to empower the Filipino Church to respond to the issues indigenous people face. The IFI had been standing in solidarity with indigenous people groups for many years prior to this and had already developed a programme serving the Lumad people in particular. Abundant Life builds on the work those ministries had already established and USPG started supporting it in 2019. The programme operates in three areas: Manila, the Caraga Region of Mindanao and the Western Mindanao Region.

All throughout the history of the Philippines, indigenous people have been subjected to discrimination, violence and human rights abuses. Some communities have been forcibly removed from ancestral lands. Many live below the poverty line. According to IFI, a programme like Abundant Life is necessary because “abundant life is not a reality in the Philippines today”.

Abundant Life’s approach is two-fold. To the indigenous communities, it offers education and advocacy: teaching people about their rights whilst lobbying the authorities on their behalf whenever those rights are threatened. Within the church, Abundant Life mobilises Christians to stand in solidarity with indigenous people and fight for a more just society. Through this strategy, the IFI seeks to empower both the Philippines’ indigenous people and the Filipino Church itself.

In 2019, Abundant Life was given a permanent home when the Diocese of Pagadian in West Mindanao Area offered a church in Saad Parish to be the programme’s base, as well as a space to cater for Lumad people in times of need. The diocese also appointed one of its clergy to be Indigenous People’s Communities Minister.  During the course of 2019, Abundant Life forged alliances with six other indigenous peoples’ organisations in order to be more effective with the support and assistance it offers.