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What would a Creation-caring kind of ministry look like?

Author: Ed Brown
Date: 23.09.2010
Category: Creation Care

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Originally Posted in English

This is the concluding section of a longer paper called ’Confessions of a Reluctant Environmentalist’ first published at Urbana.org - click here for the original full article.  These final remarks seemed most relevant for discussions leading up to Cape Town 2010.

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What will a genuine, caring-for-Creation-kind-of-ministry look like? Let me suggest several things that will be true of such an effort:

First, we’ll be teaching a complete message of redemption. We’ll remember that our basic doctrines all point to a love and appreciation for Creation because God made it, and because in Creation we have a window through which we can see God.

This will affect our training. Both training of foreign workers before they go out, and training of local workers who join our projects and outreaches will include appreciation for Creation. We’ll want to be sure that we all understand and keep in mind that we are stewards of all around us - and we are responsible to the Creator to care for his world on his behalf.

A surprising thing may happen when we take this approach to our teaching. Many traditional societies have a higher regard for Creation than does our western culture, and a deliberate effort to include love for Creation in our teaching may create new and unexpected bridges into those societies. Such an approach may actually improve our efforts at evangelism as we come proclaiming the love of the One God who made the world in which we all live. It may also allow us to find out that there are some traditional practices in those societies, which can be applied today to help restore what, has been abused.

Second, we’ll be applying sound environmental and scientific principles to everything we do in our missions work. This means we’ll need to have members of our teams who have training in environmental fields such as ecological agriculture, appropriate technology. Many of the development mistakes of the past were made out of sincere ignorance. We just didn’t know what we were doing. There’s no excuse for that now. The knowledge is available to establish sound agricultural practices, to develop micro-enterprises that are environmentally sensitive; to apply appropriate technology solutions that avoid environmental damage.

And third, we’ll be communicating to our donors and supporters how important it is to our work that they take care of Creation seriously as well. It is tragic, but true that care for Creation seems to be largely ignored by the evangelical churches of America. Perhaps if those who are working on the frontiers of missions can communicate to those ’back home’ how important this is to their work, more of us back home will take it seriously.

In Conclusion

We’ve made a mess of Creation - there’s little question of that. Is it possible to undo all the damage we’ve done as a race? I’m not sure any of us knows the answer to that, but I’m also not sure that it matters. What matters is this:

  • God is still the Creator, and it’s still his Creation.
  • We’re still his stewards.
  • And there a lot of people whose lives could be better if their part of Creation were just a little bit better than it now is.

Keywords: environment, environmental missions, creation care

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Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ron-Allen_ (-1)
United States

Edward, I hope that things are well in your part of the world. I just wanted to say that I have read a couple of your post to this point and I enjoy how you use information that is easy to apply. This is no different. I enjoy your easy to understand communication and the fact that the information is easy to put into work if one would be interested in this type of ministry. Thank you very much for your interest in the care of this world. I do believe that it is of God to care about this place God has trusted us to live on. Peace and Grace.


31.03.2014
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Ministerios_SIGA (1)
Costa Rica

In the tropical rainforest of Central America, which is where our ministry is based, we are witnessing first hand the destructive potential brought about by environmentalists who are willing to place the lives of hundreds of families are at risk. With foreign funding, they attempt to rob our neighbors of their land, and with the land, their livelihood. In an attempt to create a new national park, the poorest of the poor are asked to pick up the tab. This is in Costa Rica.

To our north in Nicaragua, an indigenous people, the Rama Nation, are being denied their constitutionally guaranteed ancestral lands, which has been transformed (through political maneuvering and foreign funding) into a wildlife reserve. This has served as a pretext to exploit the Rama. The government has attempted to relocate them, place restrictions on them, and even to evict them. This virgin rainforest only exists today, because living in harmony with nature in a part of the Rama culture.

These people are not the ones who are responsible for destroying the rainforest. They are the most vulnerable, the most destitute, and most easily exploited, though. Of course, when we destroy the natural resources that sustain us, we destroy ourselves in the process. But we don’t save the green macaw by destroying human life, either. God made the world to sustain both of them.

Christians should be on the front lines of environmental stewardship because we know who created the world in which we live. And Christians should be on the front lines of environmental stewardship, because we also know that we all have been created in the image and likeness of God, and God is good. Therefore, there is no such thing as a throw-away human being. Colateral damage is not allowed.


26.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Edward_Brown (2)
United States

Thank you, Pete!  You raise an important point and one with greater implications than we often realize.

IF much of the modern environmental crisis is being caused by rampant materialism and a drive for wealth, (and it is), a healthy focus on rest and sabbath contradicts those tendencies almost by definition.  If we are resting, we are not pursuing wealth.  When we are resting we are not doing damage to anything.  When we rest, we experience restoration, and so does the earth around us.

Good thought.  I’ll have to rewrite the article, I guess!


24.09.2010
PhContributeBy
Reply Flag 0 Thumbs Up Thumbs Down Pete_Houston (7)
South Africa

A forth could be: "we’ll be calling people to a sabbath rest in creation AND an eternal rest in Christ."

Jesus says "come to me all you who are weary and I will give you rest." I’m intrigued by the thought of Jesus as the telos (the end or focus) of something started in Genesis when God proclaimed Rest in time and then progressively laid down a Sabbath code that pointed toward an Eternal Rest.  

So many environmental principles (eg. good land use) involve periods of rest (or dormancy) and avoiding ecological burnout.  So many pastoral principles involve helping people to truly rest and avoid a trajectory towards physical, emotional and spiritual burnout.

What we see in the destruction of the environment/Earth mirrors humanity’s rest-less souls. Both are crying out for a creation-caring ministry...

So thank you for your article!


24.09.2010

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PhContributeBy Ed Brown
 
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Country: United States

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