I am currently in Kenya, being reminded once again of the enormous human toll caused by environmental degradation. This post is four years old, but perhaps even more relevant than when first published:
Alan Paton wrote his novel in 1946, published in 1948. It is set in South Africa. What is startling about the book is that the first two pages could have been written about Kenya – and could have been written yesterday.
The lessons from today’s reading are painfully clear: 1)Environmental degradation is not a new problem. Abuse of God’s creation is, apologies to Paton, as old as the hills. As ancient as human nature. If you’ll allow me to quote myself in Our Father’s World, ‘environmental problems are sin problems.’
And, 2)Why don’t we learn? If it was obvious that people were destroying the very land they needed to live on more than 60 years ago, why do we keep acting surprised? Why do we think we can solve this with more fertilizer or another loan from the World Bank?
Here’s the reading. (Pick up the book here)
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Eight or nine months ago I got an email from a guy named Mark Davis. Could I give him a call. I was travelling – out of the country, I think – and the message got buried. He emailed again. Then he called. I thought, Okay, this guy is serious – let’s find out what this is all about.
Mark is a large animal vet in Florida (think James Herriott in the Florida sunshine). He is also, like my colleague Craig Sorley, a missionary kid who grew up in Africa. He has a passion for Africa’s wildlife that matches Craig’s love for Africa’s birds and trees. He is also a phenomenal photographer. Read more »
October 16 – three weeks from this weekend – 4,000 delegates will gather in Cape Town South Africa from 200 countries around the world. They will be convening the third Lausanne Consultation on World Evangelization. These meetings happen approximately every 15 years, with the first being called by two of the great evangelical statesmen of our time, Billy Graham and John Stott, in Lausanne Switzerland (hence the name) in 1974. I am honored – and a bit surprised – to be attending this conference both as a delegate and as a presenter. I’ll be doing a seminar on (naturally!), ‘Mobilizing Your Church to Care for Creation’. Read more »
It was a brief and on the surface completely unremarkable conversation. Two conference speakers complimenting each other on their talks, discussing points each one appreciated in the other’s presentation.
But this encounter was somewhat unusual and possibly quite special. The scene played out at Kansas State University, in the midst of an academic symposium on sustainability issues in Africa. I was one of the participants in the conversation, and had, the day before, presented a talk on ‘mobilizing the African church to respond to the African environmental crisis.’ The other speaker was a representative of a prominent and important botanical garden, and had just presented what I considered the best talk of the conference on dealing with biodiversity loss in Madagascar.
As it happens, Madagascar is one of the richest – and one of the poorest – countries in the world. Rich in plants, animals and insects that are found no where else. [Your favorite zoo animal, the Lemur, is found only on Madagascar, for example.] 90% of the animals there are ‘endemic’ – they occur only on this one, large island. But Madagascar is poor – the people who live among this rich abundance are among the poorest in the world. And both groups – the plants and the people – are under great pressure. Plants and animals are going extinct. People are going hungry. Which one do we help? Read more »