HDI is currently conducting a number of faith-based, relief and development, and community resilience projects around the globe.



Faith-based Public Health Preparedness in Cook County

HDI is collaborating with the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) Community Preparedness and Coordination Unit through a contract to promote public health emergency preparedness among congregations in suburban Cook County (e.g., pandemic flu and other disasters). To achieve this goal, our project includes four aspects: 1) We completed a survey of congregations to understand their current level of preparedness, barriers to working with CCDPH, and areas of support needed to become prepared; 2) completed a first draft of a training curriculum and tools to aid congregations in preparing, including accessing resources made available by CCDPH; 3) created an advisory panel of local religious leaders for the project, and 4) we are developing online and mobile phone-based versions of these materials and tools.

Congregational Preparedness Case Studies

HDI is currently conducting a series of case studies with faith communities from around the Chicago area and throughout Illinois in areas that have been affected by disasters over the last few years. We are conducting and writing up these case studies using exemplars who have established disaster ministries. We are also conducting case studies with congregations at various stages of development, from contemplating getting started to those early in development, and will document their development over time. These case studies will be posted to and available on the HDI website once they complete editing.

Faith-based Resilience Program for DuPage County Refugee Families

HDI received a grant from the Grainger Company and is collaborating with World Relief-DuPage to develop a resilience care program for refugee families living in the greater Chicago area. This program will help faith communities learn how to better care for vulnerable refugee families and promote disaster risk reduction. Together, a task force has been formed, and HDI is working to develop a training curriculum that will help faith communities enhance refugee family resilience and reduce disaster vulnerabilities.

Development and Evaluation of a Disaster Chaplain Mobile App

HDI recently received a Wheaton College Aldeen Grant to support the research and development of a mobile application—Spiritual First Aid App—that will provide disaster chaplains (e.g., clergy, lay leaders, mental health providers, etc.) with easy access to evidence-based tutorials on disaster care, and thus help them to be better prepared for and respond to disaster spiritual and emotional needs. This mobile app will operate on iPhone, iPad, and Android platforms and will be designed to enhance disaster chaplaincy practice. This app will also integrate numerous resources and tools for disaster spiritual and emotional care.

Fatalities and Old Age following the Tuscaloosa Tornado

In collaboration with the University of Alabama Medical School Center for Aging, HDI is studying risk factors that place elderly at risk during disasters and to develop guidelines and strategies for helping the church better prepare for and care for the elderly in times of crisis. On April 27, 2011, an EF4 tornado struck Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Reports of the tornado striking a mid-size city with approximately 91,000 residents raised concerns among First Responders about mass casualties and fatalities. We found that a disproportionate amount of fatalities occurred among Tuscaloosa City’s older residents. Older female residents experienced the majority of the deaths because of female to male life expectancies, which suggest older females are particularly at risk of experiencing fatal injury during disasters. Because religion and spirituality are important aspects in the lives of many older adults, we are working on recommendations for federal, state, and local governments on how to work with congregations and other religious entities to ensure the oldest residents of our communities are safe and secure in the event of a disaster. We are also collaborating to develop tools and resources to enhance congregations’ ability to better care for elderly in the wake of disasters based on this research.

Developing Rural Resilience in Frontier Mental Health

Understanding that disasters often expose more basic weaknesses in a community, and that addressing these weaknesses in advance is central to disaster resilience, HDI has partnered with the Center for Rural Psychology and the Phillips County (Montana) Hospital Association to take a creative approach to the problem of mental health service access. Frontier areas are sparsely populated rural areas that are isolated from population centers and services. While frontier is sometimes defined simplistically as places having a population density of six or fewer people per square mile this does not take into account other important factors that may isolate a community. This isolation has important consequences for mental health service access and quality, and beyond that to the communities' ability to respond to and recover from disasters. This grant starts the process of addressing that problem, starting with Phillips County Montana as a focal point.



Refugee Care in Kakuma Kenya

HDI is working with the International Association of Refugees on two projects related to the refugees of the Kakuma (Kenya) Refugee Camp who created an association called the United Refugee and Host Churches (URHC). The first project was a qualitative study of the work of URHC and their success in bringing together a denominationally diverse group of churches to work together for the betterment of refugees in the camp, and eventually the surrounding community as well.  This recently completed (October 2014) project is summarized in the report that appears in the link below.  This intriguing association represents a grass roots, church-based effort to make a stronger community, and contains lessons for people everywhere.

The second project, also with URHC, is to build capacity for trauma care for refugees.  Working together with members of URHC, HDI and the students of the applied research lab are developing a community based trauma care program that combines traditional trauma care practices with the various ministries of URHC, creating a broad, multi-level and community based approach to trauma care and mental health.

Read Report Here>>

Equipping Churches for Community Disaster Resilience in the Philippines

HDI is collaborating with the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches to equip local churches for disaster ministry. This program is an extension of the collaboration with WEA and Micah Network, and involves a conference in Manila in September 2013 in which church leaders will be trained on the concept of resilience and the role of the church. After the conference volunteers will pilot a resilience toolkit.

Global Church-based Disaster Ministry Initiative

HDI is currently collaborating with the World Evangelical Association, Micah Network, and Integral Alliance (and their partners) to develop a model and support systems for a global church-based disaster ministry. Together, we are working toward the goal of equipping the local church and faith-based organizations for disaster ministry, and toward a central infrastructure for supporting those ministries. Outcomes of this project will include: equipping and supporting local disaster ministries, a centralized disaster ministry support system, and equipping and supporting one or more regional convening organizations.

Building Faith-based Organizational and Local Capacity for Disaster Psychosocial Care in Japan

This is a two-year program funded by World relief to build up the capacity of the Japan Evangelical Association to equip local churches for disaster preparedness and disaster relief staff support. There are four aims for this program: 1) Expand the organizational capacity of JEA for disaster response; 2) Provide training and mentoring in disaster staff support; 3) Develop communication and networking capacity for disaster responders; and 4) Evaluate the impact and lessons learned of the project, and disseminate to other relief organizations.

Measuring Organizational Safety Culture in Missions and Development Organizations

The concept of organizational culture is widely adopted in high-risk industries, including healthcare, as an essential dimension for improving and maintaining the safety of staff, customers or patients.  It has not yet been fully adopted in missions work or relief and development.  In response to this gap, and responding to increasing concern with trauma among staff in these fields, HDI initiated development of an organizational safety culture measurement tool. The initial development of this instrument is based upon the AHRQ (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality) Safety Culture survey tools that have been applied to over 30 countries and to multiple industries.  We are currently collecting data to allow us to validate and refine this instrument. You are welcome to preview the survey instrument here ( (Please enter 99999 as the survey code). If your organization is interested in being part of this project, and receiving a free assessment and consultation on safety culture, you may contact us at for more information.

View the presentation on Staff Safety to the Christian Association of Psychological Studies: Measuring and Improving Organizational Capacity for Staff Care and Safety (PDF).

Building Capacity for Clinical Care of Child Restaveks in Haiti

This program is developing a culturally adapted evidence-based trauma care intervention for children in Haiti. It includes contextualizing the treatment method and then training and supervising an initial group of Haitian counselors to deliver care. HDI is working with Regent University’s Child Trauma Institute, Restavek Freedom Foundation, le Centre de Spiritualite et de Sante Mentale (CESSA) and University of Notre Dame – Haiti. The program includes engaging local Christian colleges and equipping them to train counselors using these program materials.

Disaster Planning and Risk Reduction in Uzbekistan

According to the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministries of the Republic of Uzbekistan, HDI is collaborating with a local NGO to help provide disaster response and management training resources and tools for training. HDI has developed resources to help Uzbekistan first responders better care for children affected by traumatic events. Other activities include working with secondary schools, colleges, universities and volunteer organizations to enhance disaster planning, implement risk reduction strategies, and provide training in disaster mental health care.

Democratic Republic of the Congo Church-based Trauma Care Program

HDI is working with the American Bible Society and the “She’s my Sister Project” in collaboration with other NGOs groups to implement and study the effectiveness of a church-based trauma intervention for addressing gender-based violence in the region. The study will help establish a baseline of trauma needs, as well as test the efficacy of the intervention and assist with adaptions for refinement and replication. As part of this project, HDI also has a grant from Biblical Seminary to evaluate the literature on the cost of trauma and develop recommendations for measurement on a country-wide basis.

An NGO – Academic – Business Partnership for Innovation in Development

Development needs to also address the business case. Incorporating market factors and business entrepreneurship fosters innovation and the development of both social and technical skills. Bradley, Artz and Hughlett argue that business entrepreneurship has a critical but understudied role in sustainable development, and encourage greater entrepreneurial training as a component of development. This document presents a model for addressing these observations and recommendations that facilitates an effective corporate - NGO - Academic partnership for development innovation. Innovation is well understood to involve components of learning, teamwork, and open communication across organizational boundaries and roles. Thus, we propose a model for innovation based upon research teamwork across organizational and geographic boundaries to address challenging development issues.

Preparing the Next Generation of Faith-based International Development Workers

In association with the Accord Network, HDI convened a group of international development experts (The Accord Workgroup) who identified critical skill and experience areas for the effective international development worker. The emphasis in identifying these core areas was on current and emerging trends in the field that need to be incorporated into as curriculum in order to prepare people to meet the needs and expectations of international development organizations. The workshop we propose here is a further step in the development of this curriculum. A central theme that evolved from the discussions of the Accord Workgroup was the evolving environment for the Christian working in the international development setting. There have never been greater opportunities for faith-based organizations and their staff, and along with those opportunities come new challenges. Thus, not only does the next generation worker need to consider varied skills and experience in order to be prepared, but also prepare for integrating faith into those practices, roles, and settings. The curriculum we propose addresses both the demands of the international field, and the demands for the Christian development worker.

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