At Care of Creation we were recently contacted by a Christian University in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A group of students there was looking to publish a jointly-written report on environment and climate change as they experience it. The following article, written by students from Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo/Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC), highlights some recent creation care activities in the surrounding communities. DRC is a nation wearied by war, severe poverty, governmental ineptitude, and endemic corruption. It is in this context that the activities described in the report reveal something of the character of UCBC–an institution whose vision is to “raise up indigenous, Christian leaders to transform their communities and the nation of DRC.” Read, ponder – and pray. And let us know if you would like to help in some way. (This article is cross-posted on the main Care of Creation website. The authors are Adeito Masika Tahirana, Annie Mboligihe, Baraka Kambale Alex, Nadine Kavira Vitya, and Patrick Masomeko Mikajo.)
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the majority of the population is rural and lives dependent on the forest and subsistence farming. DRC’s Congo Basin rainforest is sometimes referred to as the “second lung of the earth” because of its size, second only to the Amazon basin. However, through the growing lumber industry, people who live in this vast rainforest area often seek to supplement their livelihood by clearing forest trees to sell timber and produce charcoal for cooking. As the population grows rapidly, this activity has direct impacts on climate and the health of the land as the rainforest shrinks to make way for farmland and the lumber industry.
This post comes to you from an airport lounge in Nairobi, Kenya, where I am waiting for my flight to Tanzania to visit the new Care of Creation project in Iringa. Meanwhile, I am thinking of the many people, sights and sounds from the last week. One of the most important events is actually one that happened on April 28, a week before I arrived, when an unaturally large rainfall event caused a portion of the mountain above the community where our project is located to slide down. Such an event is a natural part of God’s creation – or is it?
The evidence of God’s grace and mercy in the aftermath of the April 28th landslide in Kijabe, Kenya, is clear. The slide happened after midnight on a Saturday night, so the path the slide took down the main street of the town (which runs straight down the slope) hit no vehicles, no houses and no people. It did wipe out several hundred meters of the boundary fence of Rift Valley Academy, and could have done serious damage to a local high school and the famous Kijabe Christian Hospital but for a strong fence and row of trees at the bottom of the street – and because of the damming effect of a railway line above the town – but we’ll come back to that in a minute. Continue reading →
The next time you hope for some plain-speaking legislation to come out of your state legislature, you may want to take a moment and be careful what you wish for. This is the story of three environmental bills recently introduced in the Kansas statehouse. I live in Kansas. We’re generally known for being plain-spoken.
Our governor Sam Brownback says he has an “All of the Above” energy policy. I do not consider that plain-speaking any more than when President Obama uses the same phrase. “All of the above” means that an executive can throw a sop to renewable energies without threatening the continued exploitation of fossil fuels. And thus we have our first bill, House Bill 2241, which wants to give our state utility companies a break on the Renewable Portfolio Standard. They will no longer have to get a certain percentage of their energy requirements from renewables by the original deadlines – 10% by 2010, 15% by 2016 and 20% by 2020. Surely these deadlines aren’t onerous for America’s second windiest state. Even our name is a Native American term for “People of the South Wind.” The bill also grants vague exemptions for “firm transmission” (i.e. standards don’t go in effect if there aren’t transmission lines available) and “excessive costs.” There were a couple of occasions last summer when the nation of Germany reached the 50% mark in obtaining its electricity from renewables. Germans are the largest ethnicity designation of Kansas citizens. Perhaps we could take some inspiration from the Old Country. Continue reading →
Jesus rebuked people in his day who were able to predict the weather but unable to understand the signs of history right in front of them: “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
Perhaps it is time we learned to interpret some of the parables that are right in front of us. You think? Continue reading →
This is a front-line report from the recent Jamaica Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel which I was privileged to lead. I didn’t have a lot of time for reflection during the Consultation, and am still somewhat overwhelmed with detail relating to the event. However, Lowell Bliss has been reporting his experience regularly through the Eden Vigil Newsletter. [Contact Lowell if you want to subscribe.] Here is his most recent, describing the experience of coming up with a Consultation Call to Action. [The document being described is still under review, but should be released publicly on Monday, November 12. Watch for it in this space.] “Buddy, you don’t know half the story!”
I didn’t say these words, but I was thinking them, as I acknowledged another consultant’s gracious encouragement that people were praying for our Statement Committee. If only he knew about the hundreds of you who were so faithfully praying, even after internet communication had been cut from my side in Jamaica.
My heart is full of joy, but I’m feeling the rigor in my body even as I write these words. The picture above is taken from the communion service on the final evening. It depicts how exhausted I was by this point, but it also shows Chris (Canada) passing the wine to Cassien (Burundi).: “This is the blood of Christ shed for you.” Chris had received it from the hands of Terry (First Nations Canada) who had received it from Darceuil (Trinidad and Tobago) who had received it from me (U.S.) who had received it from Robert (U.K.) who had received from Kuki (India). . . . It was a thrilling experience of the Body of Christ.
Care of Creation’s Kenya project is housed in Kijabe, on the campus of Moffatt Bible College, overlooking the Great Rift Valley of central Kenya. Kijabe town is perched on the edge of the Rift Valley escarpment, with steep slopes all around covered by forest – forest that has been under siege for many years. The destruction of the forest is suddenly creating a monumental problem for the Bible School, a major mission hospital, a school for missionary children – and Uganda’s only rail link to the port of Mombasa. Read on:
East Africa, suffering from years of drought, suddenly finds itself almost drowning in rain. It has been raining hard for weeks – and the rains, normally a blessing to be prayed for and for which songs of praise are offered, these rains are bringing a new level of challenge all their own. Persistent, ongoing and accelerating deforestation has left the slopes of the escarpment unstable. Landslides over the last few weeks have destroyed one of the waterlines supplying Moffatt Bible College, Kijabe Mission Hospital and Rift Valley Academy. Road access to the hospital is threatened by slides – potentially much more important, a railway line that links the country of Uganda to the port of Mombasa has been blocked several times already. Continue reading →
A Conversation about God, His Creation and Our Role in Creation