Evangelical Social Action Forum is a member of the Micah Network
08 February 2012
By Lawrence Temfe, Jubilee Centre, Zambia
I just returned from Zimbabwe. I was invited to attend a workshop on climate change and environmental degradation. One highlight of the trip was a visit to a settlement of 167 families just outside Harare. Four of us from Zambia were tasked with discussing the effects of climate and environmental change with these families. One area they pointed out was erratic rainfall. When we asked them the reasons for this change of rain pattern a young woman responded, “Previously, we used to invoke ancestral spirits for rainfall and they answered by giving us adequate rain, today we pray to the Christian God and because most church leaders are insincere God is not answering our prayers.”
What touched me most was her understanding of the comprehensive nature of genuine Christianity. Genuine Christianity is a way to see and comprehend reality. This young woman understands that scripture is intended to be the basis for all of life. She has a point. In the creation account we are told that God created everything and therefore everything is subject to him. The implication is that every subject we explore, from ethics to politics, economics to climate or environmental science, the truth is found only in relationship to God. God created the earth and everything in it and delegated some of His authority to man. He expected us to take responsibility for the environment. God was careful how he made the earth and the young lady in her naivety is making an appeal to Christians not to be careless about how we take care of it.
The emphasis on a personal relationship is the evangelicals’ greatest strength. I am one of millions who had an encounter with Christ and received assurance of my salvation when in the midst of crisis in a prison cell I cried out to God, “Save me Lord.” But through my spiritual journey I have come to learn that authentic Christianity is more than a relationship with Jesus expressed in personal piety and church attendance. Christianity is a total life system. Understood this way we are in position to help the young lady with practical reasons for erratic rainfall in her community.
The two Zambian ladies I was with did discuss the likely reasons for the erratic rainfall. They told the community that when God created the earth He also ensured that it bears in itself a law for self existence. They further stated that God has given wisdom to man to rule the earth, but man has perverted his God-given role and as a result we have these unpleasant consequences of erratic rainfall. We then invited the community to pray with us basing our prayers on 2 Chron. 7:14. As the women were praying the Lord opened the heavens and rains came. There was much celebration and I am sure we left the community with renewed faith and hope for a better future.
The lesson here is that our calling is not only to personal piety but also to understand the divine ordinances that God gave the earth for self-existence. These ordinances contain environmental care principles that affect our daily lives. If we observe these principles we will be effective in evangelizing our nation and in transforming it to bear the beauty of the Garden of Eden. God help us.
For more information from the Jubilee Centre