All posts by Ed Brown

Singapore Students take Creation Care Seriously

We are often asked if all of our work at Care of Creation is making a difference in the world.  Are people listening? If so, what are they doing about it?  The following report out of Singapore by way of the IFES Prayerline newsletter answers that question.  Yes, people are paying attention.  And they are developing their own movements along the way!

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So you’ve just attended a conference or camp. The fellowship was fantastic! The worship was amazing! You’re excited and enthusiastic about the future!

But then… back to reality. There are essays to write, problems with relationships, families to keep happy, fun times and difficult times. The conference excitement and the lessons learned start to grow dim.

FES Singapore students are determined this will not happen to them. They want a recent equipping conference to be just the beginning of challenge and change in their lives. At the close of the conference they wrote their pledges on origami paper, folded them into aeroplanes, and flew them. Then they all picked up a plane and committed to pray for the person and their pledge.

They have also organised a follow-up journey together. Their aim is to bring ‘organic, self-propagating, bottom-up change’. Local projects focus on topics discussed at the conference, such as migrant workers, social media, social entrepreneurship and conversations in the public square. Two projects that will be promoted nationally focus on rest and creation care.

One of these projects centres around Psalm 24:1-2 – ‘The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.’ If we really believe this verse, FES asks, how will its truth affect our lives? How can we be responsible caretakers of God’s world?

Here are three suggestions:

1. Spend time outdoors.
As a community, explore and enjoy the wonders of God’s creation. If you take time to be ‘in’ the natural world, you will see what a marvellous gift it is. This will help you want to take care of it.

2. Stop pursuing ‘gadgetry’.
Constantly buying new devices may be a form of idolatry. Furthermore, only a small percentage of discarded items are recycled, creating mountains of e-waste – over 3.4 million tons in the US in 2012 alone! Sadly, poor countries are importing e-waste in order to recover the valuable bits, but the salvage process creates hazardous liquids and gases that are impacting the health of people and the environment.

3. Minimise wastage.
If you buy only what you need, you will waste less. This equates to a smaller carbon footprint, but is also being a good steward of resources – all part of loving our neighbour.

Another initiative is called Sleep Singapore Sleep. Students are finding creative ways to encourage themselves and others to get proper rest in order to better deal with stress. As the university year starts they will give out inflatable pillows to incoming students with a verse from Proverbs written on them: ‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet’ (3:24). They want to work with the student affairs department in the university to open discussions about meaningful rest in a stressful environment.

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Keep up the good work, Singapore!

How do you pray about an oil spill?

Today is the 45th celebration of Earth Day.  Monday of this week was the fifth anniversary of the worst environmental disaster in US history, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  The damage to the Gulf was more severe and longer lasting than even the pessimists predicted:

Cynthia Sarthou, executive director of Gulf Restoration Network, says that after five years, there are more questions than answers about what the lingering impact of the spill means.

“Dolphin deaths continue, oil is still on the bottom of the ocean, tar balls keep coming up,” she says. “And nobody really is able to say what we may find in five years, 10 years. It’s really distressing to me.”

Sarthou says there’s no certainty the spill won’t be a problem for generations to come. (NPR)

So, five years after this disaster, and 45 years after the nation started trying to do something about this kind of thing, we ask again, “How long?”   Below is a repost of one of our original commentaries on the oil spill from May 20, 2010.  The oil well had been gushing for a month already, and we asked:

How do you pray about an oil spill?

It’s a legitimate question:  The news is getting worse by the day for those of us many miles away, and no doubt by the hour for those living in the area of impact.  This morning we learned that some experts believe the amount of oil leaking may be much more than even the revised estimate of 5,000 barrels per day. More worrisome than that, there is now real concern that the oil may join the Gulf stream ocean current, which would send it around the tip of Florida and all the way up the East Coast of the United States, staining beaches and killing wildlife as it goes. Continue reading

A Better Earth Day?

Originally posted April 23rd, 2010.  We’re coming up on another Earth Day…how will you celebrate it?


courtesy Thomas Schneider
courtesy Thomas Schneider

Pastor Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing MI has posted some comments on how Christians can celebrate Earth Day “better”  over at his blog. This is a response to that post.

While I appreciate Pastor DeYoung’s sincere desire to “build a Christian foundation” (his very good image) under the concept of Earth Day, the ‘bricks’ he is using to build that foundation, most of which were purchased somewhat uncritically from Jay Richard’s Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition, could have been baked a little longer.

Here are his ‘bricks’ and my thoughts in response: Continue reading

After winter, spring… After despair, hope: An Easter Devotional

Tulip tip in springtime
An early sign of spring.

I’ve just come in from a walk around our office’s neighborhood.  Even though winter is technically over, the landscape is brown and dead.  There are no leaves on the trees.  There are no leaves on the bushes.  Flower beds are empty, some still covered with winter mulch.  If you dropped in from, say, Florida, your reaction might well be, “Why do you guys live in a place like this?  It feels so… dead!”

But it isn’t winter any more.  The air is warm.  Those bare branches are teeming with birds whose songs seem even louder in the stark, brown landscape.  And if you know where to look, you can see buds on trees and bushes getting ready to explode with new green leaves, and pointed green sprouts in otherwise dead flower beds.  It isn’t quite spring, but it isn’t winter any more – and we, having lived through another long, cold Wisconsin winter, breathe deep and rejoice.
Continue reading

Energy Slavery and What it Means to be Human

Two of the cutest energy slaves in cinematic history.

Following last week’s post by Brittany Ederer, Standing Face to Face with Injustice, today we explore what seems to be a quite different topic – our dependence on what some call “energy slaves” – and we discover that the similarities to and connections with human slavery and injustice are deep and real.

Make no mistake:  “Real” human slavery remains a serious issue in our modern world.  By some estimates, there are more slaves today than there were at the height of the slave trade,  perhaps as many as 35 million human beings trapped in some form of slavery.  This is tragic and shameful – and those organizations dedicated to confronting this problem and correcting it are worth noting and supporting. Continue reading

So what is an “Environmental Missionary” anyway?

Originally posted June 25, 2010.  Check out Lowell’s NEW book called “Environmental Missions” and let us know what you think!

 Lowell recently wrote the following piece for the Evangelicals for Social Action newsletter, answering the question, What do we mean by “Environmental Missionary”.  Enjoy!

What Is an Environmental Missionary?

At first, the question remained the same, but my answer would change.
People asked me, “Lowell, why are you a missionary?” Before I left for India in 1993, I’d tell them my conviction that Jesus is worthy of the worship of India, that the Great Commission is a mandate given to us all, and that those who die without Christ are lost eternally. But then after just a few months on the field, while those central convictions had not changed, I added to my answer, “I love Indians.” Over time, however, I had to change that answer, too, and admit, “Well, I don’t know if I can say that I love Indians, but I do love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar.” I would rattle off names of individual friends. It’s hard to love disembodied aggregates, but it’s impossible not to love those God has placed in your heart.
Now, however, the question has changed. People are curious: “Lowell, why do you call yourself an environmental missionary?” The question has changed, but the answer is remarkably the same: I love Shivraj, Munnu-ji, Prakash, and Prem Kumar. Continue reading