Tag Archives: missions

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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Bishop Tendero: What the faith community brings to the climate conversation

Bishop Efraim Tendero, General Secretary of the World Evangelical Alliance, writes in Tearfund’s Just Policy blog on what he believes the faith community can add to the larger climate conversation:

The importance of engaging the faith sector in addressing this global survival is seen in three areas. First, we bring the moral dimension on the issue. The decision to reduce carbon footprint is rooted on the ethical foundation that human life needs to protected and nurtured. Shifting to renewable sources of energy over against the harmful fossil based energy is not only a scientific endeavor, but an ethical action that seeks the survival and well being of humanity.

Second the religious can enforce action on a universal scale. The universal distribution and grass roots contact of faith leaders makes the mobilization for whatever strategies and actions needs to be taken in the mitigation and adaptation programs in lessening the negative effects of climate change. People will listen more to their religious leaders than their political, science, and civic leaders.

Finally, the faith sector can bring the element of hope. There is distrust and suspicion that crept within the hearts of people brought by the pain for the loss of lives and properties due to weather disturbances. There is cynicism in others who cannot see progress in all the 20 years of unfulfilled commitments in the past negotiations. But the faith leaders can illicit hope that beyond human limitations is the Divine that desires the fullness of life for all of humanity. That humanity can enjoy the abundance of this planet that God has created and sustains by His power despite our wanton abuse and misuse of the earth’s resources. And ultimately our hopes hinges on the affirmation that in Jesus all things were created by Him, through Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16).

Read the whole post here.

Ancient Greeks, Modern Memories

Steve Dresselhaus is a missionary with TEAM, and has done much to help that organization turn its attention to creation care as part of its world-wide gospel mission.  This is a lovely short piece exploring a tension we all face when dealing with the stuff in our lives.  Enjoy!

The ancient Greeks believed in four natural elements from which everything else was made: earth, water, fire and air.  I’m thinking they may have been on to something.  Last week my family had the opportunity to spend three nights camping on Grand Island, an undeveloped island in Lake Superior and a part of the Hiawatha National Forest.  We camped with my sister and her family.  While we did take along a few man-made items such as tents, kayaks and headlamps, we only took in what we could carry on our backs or propel with our paddles.  The packing list was not predicated on seeing  what else can I carry in but rather, what else can I leave at home?   Less was more. Doing without was freeing.  Having less made it possible to do more.   For three days we were not controlled or manipulated by a cruel slave master named Stuff. 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

Get ready: the river is rising

We have several goals for and overlapping audiences among the readers of Our Father’s World. Sometimes we want to inform you with up to date and accurate reporting of the status of God’s creation. Our occasional pieces on the fate of the monarch butterfly are an example of that. Sometimes we seek to persuade you, if you need persuasion, that there are serious problems and complacency is not an option. And sometimes we are just trying to share with you our own experiences and viewpoints as we, like you, struggle to figure out how to live lightly in a world that has been damaged by our lifestyle.

This post is different. Many of our readers are working, full-time or part-time or as volunteers, in the field of creation care. I’ve been doing this work for 15 years, and there are many who have been at it much longer than that. This “ministry”, for that is really what it is, can be lonely and discouraging. So much evidence of trouble, so many years of teaching, so little response.   So consider this a bit like a pastoral letter to those of us who have given our lives to this work, and occasionally need to be reminded of why we’re doing what we’re doing. Continue reading