Tag Archives: Kenya

Here am I, an environmental scientist. Send me!

Building homes and other structures with common materials in Malawi.
Building homes and other structures with common materials in Malawi.  By creatively recycling materials on hand, people divert trash from being burned and creating pollution.  This could be the work of an environmental missionary!

Environmental missionaries are those sent cross-culturally to labor with Christ-the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer of all creation-in caring for the environment and making disciples among all peoples.  ~pg. 17

Lowell Bliss, Environmental Missions: Planting Churches and Trees.  William Carey Library, 2013

In 2009 I was a college student attending my first Urbana Missions Conference, and the book “Environmental Missions” was a twinkle in Lowell’s eye.  I was not interested in overseas missions because I was studying wildlife ecology, and enjoying it very much.  I thought that I would need to be a medical professional or pastor in order to be a proper missionary.   I thought my wildlife ecology studies precluded me from missionary work.

However, the idea of environmental missions is exactly the opposite: we can care for God’s good earth and His very good creation: people…at the same time.  Join me as I reflect on a few quotes from Lowell Bliss’ book, Environmental Missions, and explore the possibility of expanding our current understanding of missionaries to include those who love God’s world.
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When I tend my garden, I remember Uganda

Kale growing from a sack garden in Kampala, Uganda.

Kale might be a “hipster” vegetable in the United States, but it’s as common as potatoes and rice in East Africa.  I’m glad I planted some in my garden: when I look out my kitchen window, I remember the leafy greens growing out of sack gardens in Kenya and Uganda.

I recently returned from a trip to East Africa, where I had the opportunity to connect with Kenyans in the small rural town of Kijabe and Ugandans in the sprawling slums of Kampala who are working to instill creation care practices in their respective communities.  Training women and men to grow staple foods with limited space and water while embodying the biblical wisdom of Psalm 24:1 (The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it”) is a cornerstone of both Care of Creation Kenya and A Rocha Uganda.  Both organizations teach “Farming God’s Way” and micro-gardening; both techniques allow people to grow more crops on less land and with fewer inputs such as water and inorganic fertilizers, all while contributing to the health of soils and souls.

Holes intentionally made in the side of the sack allow for multiple tiers of vegetables to grow in the same amount of space.  This lettuce is recovering well after an intense rainstorm, helped by the the fact that sack gardens encourage plants to put down deep roots.

Micro-gardening usually involves taking advantage of vertical space that is available on even the smallest of plots.   With a few common, locally available items and a couple hours of work, anyone can begin cultivating dozens of vegetable plants right next to their front door.  Food aid bags are reused as the container for the garden, and with some rocks, soil, compost or manure and seedlings, voila!  You have a sack garden.  The column of rocks in the center of the sack acts as an irrigation channel, encouraging the vegetables to put down deep roots as they follow the water.

For those of us living in a city, it’s hard to imagine having enough space to garden.  More and more of the global population resides in cities, and the percentage is expected to go up in coming years.  In Kampala, I noticed that many people make a living by selling excess produce.  However, fresh food is still hard to come by in some places, like schools.  A Rocha Uganda regularly partners with primary schools in Kampala to help them implement small, manageable gardening projects by teaching the kids how to build and take care of a sack garden.

In the United States, most of us would be too busy to handle anything but a “small, manageable gardening project” like a sack garden or a single raised bed.  We have the luxury of not growing a thing and still eating every day.  However, I appreciate the reminder of kale, lettuce, squash and spinach that grows in my backyard: my friends in East Africa are bringing the Good News and helping people meet their most basic needs through gardens.  I will savor and be thankful for everything I harvest, knowing that I am adding my voice to many across the world who thank God for their daily bread (or sukuma wiki, as the case may be).

In the coolness of the evening, I can picture God walking among the sack gardens in Kijabe, Kampala, my backyard raised bed, and the other little gardens of the world.

I will serve my God’s Creation

By Luke Baine, board member of Care of Creation.  Luke, his wife Katie, and their dog live in Tennessee. 

from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.
from left to right: Care of Creation Director Ed Brown, Professor Emeritus Dr. Calvin DeWitt, and Care of Creation board member Luke Baine.

It has been an honor to be a supporter of and involved with Care of Creation for the past few years. This past weekend they celebrated 10 years of service to God’s Kingdom. Care of Creation is an organization that loves the Lord and seeks to do His will by serving His Creation. This means both fishing for men and cleaning the tank!

crowd in sanctuary
Thank you to all the friends and partners of Care of Creation who were able to celebrate with us.

It was great to see the Staff who work tirelessly day to day and their fearless leader, Ed Brown. It was also encouraging to mingle among the many supporters who braved a perfect spring evening in Madison to celebrate 10 years of environmental missions and listen to the modern day father of Christian environmentalism, Cal DeWitt. As the sun set over Lake Mendota we were treated to videos from the two missionary families serving abroad, Craig & Tracy Sorely and Erik & Rachel Ness. Both families have experienced their share of struggle and success. It was a joy to learn more about their service to the Lord and His Creation. Cal then began to speak about how he came to be involved in environmental stewardship, and how we are called to “con” serve the Creation of our Father. He challenged us to serve the garden as we serve the Lord.

I believe that “Creation Care” is as much a secular issue as a Christian one. However, to call yourself a Christian, a Disciple of Jesus Christ, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit means that you are called to serve God, His Will, and His Creation. This means that environmental issues our planet is facing are every Christian’s responsibility. It is not about being preachy or feeling morally superior but humbly loving and serving God’s Creation.

ed, stacey, susanna
Stacey Gluck receives an award for her and her husband Fredric for their sacrificial service and dedication to the mission of Care of Creation.

My wife and I had a wonderful time in beautiful Madison, WI. Many thanks to Ed & Susanna Brown, Stacey & Fred Gluck, Brittany Ederer, Andrea Ebley, David Fine, and Kermit Hovey for putting on a wonderful evening.

With service, I look forward to the next 10 years of Care of Creation!

What Role Does Faith Play? God Draws Straight with Crooked Lines…

Kermit Hovey pausing during a bike ride through a forested path in 2013.
Kermit Hovey pausing during a bike ride through a forested path in 2013.

“What role does faith play in you discovering and living your purpose?”  Last year I met Sterling Lynk, strategist and coach, at the Madison Non-Profit Day conference. He chose to interview me about that question and the particulars of my story of faith, purpose and work at Care of Creation.

In his article at www.mightypurpose.me, Sterling introduces the topic before sharing both an invitation to Care of Creation’s April 18th Tenth Anniversary Celebration and his interview with me.  A partial excerpt follows:

“Sterling Lynk: Tell us a little about 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

Biblical Wildlife: Do You Know Lions?

Male Asiatic Lion.

Pop quiz: which word appears more frequently in the Bible: grace or lion?

According to a simple search on Biblegateway.com, the word “grace” is used 125 times in Scripture.  “Lion” is used almost as frequently, with 119 occurrences.  Isn’t it fascinating that lions feature so prominently in stories and imagery of the Bible?  The lion must have held a prominent place in the imaginations and memories of the ancient Israelites and Gentiles; otherwise, Continue reading