Originally published March 3, 2010. Have you read Tending to Eden?
“Old Literature” is an occasional feature that highlights long-forgotten books, articles, speeches or poems that still speak to us today. As it happens, there’s some new material that also deserves our attention. Today, Tending to Eden by Scott Sabin, Director of Plant with Purpose (formerly Floresta).
Scott Sabin and I met about 7 years ago at a conference in Kenya. He tells about that conference in his new book,Tending to Eden that was just released two weeks ago:
Edith and I took several pastors to a conference on creation care in Kenya. I was one of the presenters, and in the course of my presentation I showed a slide of the devasted forests around Mt Kilimanjaro National Park. Pastor Lyamuya approached me later and, with an embarassed smile, explained how convicting it was to see the photo from his own community. “God entrusted it to us to take care of, and we aren’t doing our job.”
He returned home determined to make a difference. Collaborating with a number of other pastors in the area, he encouraged all the churches to establish tree nurseries. They required those going through confirmation classes to plant trees as a prerequisite to graduation. As a result of these initiatives, nearly 500,000 trees have been planted. [page 68]
That conference was significant for many people: It was sponsored by and was the first major public effort of the Brackenhurst Environmental Programme, the organization that was to become Care of Creation-Kenya two years later, sister organization to Care of Creation Inc. of which I am the Director. We have known of many results from that first conference, but none of us at Care of Creation knew of these 500,000 trees until I read Scott’s manuscript a couple of months ago.
And that is probably the most encouraging thing about Scott’s book – he’s reminding us explicitly and implicitly that there’s a lot of good stuff happening in the world. As bad as the environmental crisis is – and Tending to Eden will not let you off the hook on that score – there are people and organizations working, and working together, to make real and effective change happen.
I identify with Scott – we both came into the creation care movement inadvertently and involuntarily. He joined Plant with Purpose to help respond to poverty by providing development in the Caribbean nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, and now well beyond. God brought him along a path that showed clearly how poverty, development and environmental degradation are inextricably entwined. I came into the movement a couple of years later from the world of “ministry” – preaching, teaching, evangelism, church planting. And God showed me just as clearly that the “gospel” is inextricably linked to caring for his world.
Tending to Eden is remarkable as well for speaking to a pressing issue in the world of foreign aid today: How can we offer help without hurting people? Scott and Plant With Purpose are offering a model that offers hope and help in a way that is comprehensive, holistic – and successful.