Our Theory of Change: Behind the Scenes at ERDO | ERDO Skip to main content

Our Theory of Change: How Humanitarian Work Happens

When you give toward a country or a project near and dear to your heart, do you ever wonder what is going on in the background? Today, we at ERDO (Emergency Relief and Development Overseas) want to shine some light on everything you don’t usually see taking place at the ERDO HQ.

Helping a family break free from generations of poverty does not happen overnight. When we partner with incredible global workers and the often-unseen churches around the world, it takes serious thought. It takes time, money and legally binding agreements to feed families living in active war zones or to respond to the latest emergency.

But usually, it all starts with a conversation.

Joseph’s Story

Blair Colliver, one of ERDO’s program managers, travelled to Rhino refugee camp to discuss an emergency food program. South Sudanese children and pregnant and nursing mothers are some of the most vulnerable people in the camp. Blair proposed monthly food supplies to help combat malnutrition.

The camp commandant at Rhino, Joseph, agreed with the emergency food plan, but explained there were other pressing needs, too. “The refugees need work,” he said. “They need something to do.”

While ERDO was looking to help with the immediate need for food, Joseph understood the emotional needs of the people living in Rhino. The people needed a purpose and a future. Together, we have developed four major programs in Uganda to train and establish farmers and to bring small businesses to the area.

Blair was able to listen to Joseph’s needs and work with him to help where we could.

The Theory of Change

When ERDO begins working in a community, we first meet with local leaders to figure out some long-term goals. These leaders have their community’s best interests at heart. They know most families, and they understand their everyday struggles.

The goals we create together involve big-picture, high-level thinking. For example, the community could tell us about their struggles to find skilled workers and how their children are not growing healthy and strong. In that case, our goal would be for the improved well-being and transformation of vulnerable children and adults.

This goal sounds very lofty, but what it really means is that we want to see lives changed in every way. We want to help children become successful and healthy adults, and we want communities to grow and thrive because people have the skills to change their lives and surroundings.

Really, our goals are biblical, as God tells us through the prophet Isaiah to “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17). This verse informs our mission at ERDO and our belief in the mission of the church.

From there, we work backward to create some immediate and intermediate goals. An immediate goal might be to ensure children can attend school regularly and discover the roadblocks to education. An intermediate goal might be to train teachers and help improve the quality of education in the community.

Next, we find programs that will help us achieve these goals.

Our four main types of programs include:


Increasing a community’s access to food.


Providing an education to children and adults.


Increasing the mental, physical and spiritual health of people.


Creating job and business opportunities for men and women.

Working together and following the Holy Spirit’s leading, we believe we can create long-lasting transformation. That’s our theory of change!

In many countries, we have one type of program or another. But lately, we’ve been learning how to layer our programs, integrating them together to create the biggest impact possible on a community. When we educate children, work with their parents to develop the community, and bring crisis relief for immediate help, we can assist the whole family now and for many years to come.

How Can You Help?

ERDO has fantastic partners worldwide, including global workers who are impacting families every day. Many of the people we work with have high needs and face extreme poverty with little access to food, clean water or education. We trust our partners to work in these communities, bringing in programs and discipling families, and following the Holy Spirit as He does what He does best. He transforms nations. He moves hearts!

But we always need your help and your support.

One of the best ways you can support our ongoing mission is through child sponsorship. When you sponsor a child, you don’t only help a single child. You help an entire community through a host of programs that work alongside child sponsorship.

Gendi’s Story

One of our child sponsorship programs in India provides education and housing for all the students. Gendi began attending and living in the girls’ home at the age of 11. After graduation, Gendi received a further sponsorship opportunity and studied nursing in Mumbai. She now works in a government health centre near her own village and serves her own community.

From a life of extreme poverty, Gendi now has her own career and understands the love of God.

Depending on the country, when you sponsor a child, you can bring food to an entire family or help distribute emergency food in a time of crisis. You can help install clean water in schools and in the homes of sponsored children’s families and neighbours. You can bring parents of sponsored children new opportunities to start businesses and create an income for their families.

When you sponsor a child through ERDO, you bring a family one step closer to a future without poverty.

To sponsor a child today, visit erdo.ca/sponsor-now or call 1-800-779-7262 to ask how sponsorship will specifically impact the countries close to your heart.

This article was originally appeared in the April/May/June 2023 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. You can read testimony/Enrich online or subscribe to the print magazine.