|7 April, 2020
I remember it clearly. My simple stir-fry had opened up a genuine and open conversation with a stranger about my faith in a God who loves and cares for the amazing world He has created. We spoke for almost an hour. How did that happen?! Well, in one sense, it was simple. My friend had dropped in to visit, he noticed that I was making thoughtful choices about my meal and he asked why.
In another sense, many things had brought about the conversation I had with this man. Long before I was an exchange student living overseas, I was making intentional decisions about the way I interact with the world God has made. These included research into the ethics and environmental impact of the clothes I wore, the sustainability of the produce I ate, and the welfare of the farmers and animals providing food for my table. The choices I made in my normal life in Australia allowed me to keep making those choices in a foreign culture as best I could. I hope that my friends see integrity between my beliefs and how they play out in my daily life. My friend saw those distinctive choices and asked a question about them.
Hayley, an On Tracker in Central Asia, shares a similar experience. “Shop owners like to give you one plastic bag per item. Carrying around my own bag has reduced my plastic accumulation, and I hope as my language develops I can have conversations about why I do this.”
Despite living in very different cultural contexts, Hayley and I have something in common. We’re wrestling with how caring for creation is integral to our faith. As we live that out, we hope for the opportunity to share about the love of God with those who witness our actions. I hope that as Hayley grows in her language skills, she will have similar encouraging opportunities for conversation and friendship.
As Christians we have a unique voice to speak into this space of caring for the environment. We care because God cares.
In a bleak environmental landscape across the world, with ravaging bushfires, devastating drought and species extinction, many feel hopeless. I admit I sometimes do. It is appropriate to cry out, “How long, O Lord?” Over the years God has had to remind me that ‘saving the environment’ is not a burden He expects me to carry. In my personal grief and frustration over the ways we take the environment for granted, I’ve been able to lean on the corporate history of grief and lament we have in the Christian faith. We are equipped to respond to the eco-anxiety and ecological grief* many people experience.
We can also share a clear hope for the future. Callum, a Partner in South East Asia, writes: “Our Father has a plan not just for redemption of individuals, but for all of creation. As we live as his agents in this world, we seek to see His Kingdom come. We are longing for the day when He brings back perfect harmony and balance to our environment. But for now, we have the privilege of being part of His work and bringing glimpses of His Kingdom to the world. I love the fact that our faith gives us eternal perspective.”
It is this hope that has resulted in some of the best conversations I’ve had with others about my faith. What a beautiful, transformative message to get to speak into people’s lives.
Katherine is a Creation Care Advocate for Interserve. She has an Honours degree in Marine Conservation and Resource Sustainability, a Graduate Diploma in Divinity and loves to chat about mission and the environment!
Some names have been changed.
*Vince, Gaia. “How scientists are coping with ‘ecological grief’”. The Guardian, 13 January 2020 (https://www.theguardian.com/science/2020/jan/12/how-scientists-are-coping-withenvironmental-grief).