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.
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
Guest blog: by Lowell Bliss
As part of our summer vacation this year, we found ourselves at Canada’s Wonderland, a colossal amusement park near Toronto. My teenage son has discovered roller coasters as a passion, and so we strapped ourselves into the Behemoth, riding up to a height of 230 feet and then plunging down at 77 mph. The Behemoth cost $26 million to build. But all day it was like that: we were surrounded by acres of ingenious and costly technologies engineered with the sole purpose to amuse and thrill.
As my old body began to wane in the late afternoon, I plopped down on a park bench and waited out my kids who were on another ride. A young teenage girl was standing nearby. Suddenly, I heard her utter a short squeak and I felt something rustling on the ground between my ankles. I looked down. A chubby woodchuck wandered out from under my bench. Behind us was a small wooded lot between paths in the amusement park. A little stream flowed into a pool there and it was hard to tell whether this patch of nature among the tarmac was original or manufactured. Nonetheless, it was apparently where the woodchuck lived. I suspect it was “suppertime,” if that’s what you can call his daily allotment of popcorn and funnel cake. Continue reading
You just never know who you’re going to meet at a conference (or a guest house). This time it was Orlando, Florida – and the person waving across the auditorium turned out to be Mark Morris, a friend and former member of the church I pastored for a time in Pakistan from about 1991 to 1995. He and Cindy were raising three of the cutest little girls… but I digress: We’ve both changed places and jobs numerous times in the last fifteen years and had completely lost track of each other. It was fun catching up personally and professionally. Our ministry at Care of Creation was new to Mark; this is how he described our conversation on his own blog. Enjoy:
Confession time. I’ll just put it all on the table…my actions and lifestyle might just demonstrate that I am complacent about the creation God has stewarded into my hands. It’s ok, because I balance this neglect with a high level of care for the least reached hearing a verbal and living proclamation of the living Lord. I invest myself in seeing churches and individuals traverse cultures in order to spread the saving name of Jesus to the glory of God the Father. So it is simply off my radar to get on the “liberal-minded” green kick of environmentalism. And yes I chew my gum and spit it out the window while driving 65 miles an hour down the highway. I don’t even know how many gazilians of years it will take for my juicy fruit to reprocess back into the environment, if it does at all. I’m obviously sinful and uncaring about God’s creation. So why am I writing in this blog about the Care of Creation?!
Lowell Bliss is the director of Eden Vigil and Care of Creation’s partner in environmental missions. He’s appeared already in these pages as a guest blogger and has now agreed to be a regular contributor. Having spent fourteen years in India and Pakistan, Lowell, his wife Robynn, and three kids now reside in Manhattan, KS.
I know that YouTube is primarily used to apprise ourselves of this week’s media spectacle, but it’s also a wonderful tool for nostalgia. Every once in a while, sitting at the computer, I announce to my family, “Classic Rock Night!” The kids groan and the speakers play Creedence Clearwater Revival. One day I went to YouTube in order to relive my childhood environmentalism. When the world celebrated its first Earth Day in 1970, I was still in second grade. YouTube allowed me to revisit the Ad Council PSA familiar to my generation of Saturday morning cartoon watchers. I typed in “Crying Indian,” the name under which the ad is apparently archived in our collective memory, and watched the old chief paddle his canoe past a riverfront factory. He beaches it on a littered shore and climbs an embankment alongside an eight-lane highway. The narrator’s voice is deep and accusatory, “Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country. “ We then see a bag of fast-food garbage flung out from a car window. It splatters the Indian’s moccasins. “And some people don’t.” The camera then pans closely to his face and we see the famous tear. “People start pollution; people can stop it.”
Care of Creation and Eden Vigil are cohosting a Consultation on Environmental Missions in Manhattan KS July 12-16. A small group of environmental and missions leaders will spend three days together hashing out issues that will help us to establish Environmental Missions as a new category of missions. You can read the announcement of the event here – and you can contact Robynn Bliss, event registrar, here if you would like to join us.
Meanwhile, 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