Author: Craig Sorley
Category: Creation Care
This is an INTEREST GROUP PRESENTATION ABSTRACT; the paper will be presented at the Jamaica Consultation on Creation Care and the Gospel in October, 2012. Comments are welcomed! View all abstracts.
Christ, Creation Stewardship, and Missions:
How Discipleship into a Biblical Worldview on Environmental Stewardship can Transform Both People and Their Land.
Craig Sorley, Executive Director, Care of Creation Kenya
“Why is it that for all these decades the missionaries right here have never told us that God was concerned about how we managed the forests? Why have they just watched this destruction taking place all this time?” (Quote from an elderly Kenyan man living in a Christian community suffering from acute deforestation.)
The quote above illustrates a problem that exists across many parts of our world that have been reached with the Gospel. Fortunately, as Great Commission Christians enter the 21st Century, we have now begun to embrace an issue long overlooked. We have realized that our responsibility in caring for God’s creation is of paramount importance. In the case of East Africa our brothers and sisters are facing environmental challenges unprecedented in history. As each year passes it becomes increasingly clear that the church is in desperate need of Christ-centered leadership on this topic. A critically important and wonderful opportunity now lies before us.
What if church leaders and missionaries promoted a biblically-based vision that transformed farmers to become excellent stewards of their land? What if we brought a holistic gospel to people, a gospel that combined efforts to fulfill the Great Commission with tangible efforts to heal broken landscapes and bring hope to the hungry? What if our passion for Christ was complemented by a corresponding commitment to care properly for everything our Savior has made? The answer to these questions is clear. Creation stewardship integrated with missions is a new frontier, wide open for exploration, and filled with opportunities as numerous as they are exciting. Discipling believers to understand this topic in light of the scriptures, working to stem the tide of hunger and poverty, and enlisting today’s ecologically minded young people into missions are just a few examples. This is a mission field ripe for the harvest.
As the biblical basis for creation stewardship becomes more firmly recognized by Christians, do we have evidence that this type of holistic approach actually works in the context of missions? Can a biblical worldview on creation change both the perspectives and behavior of people? Care of Creation Kenya (CCK) has been exploring these possibilities and working to this end for more than eight years. This paper summarizes both the problems and opportunities that lie before us, including a sample of the biblical principles that CCK uses in its outreach trainings. It also briefly outlines some of the evidence of lives and perspectives that have been changed to date. These results, given towards the end of the paper, answer the questions above in the affirmative. When we put God back into the center of environmental and agricultural matters, where our Creator deserves to be, He can transform and enable His people to become better stewards of creation.