Earth Day and Missions

22 04 2012

Today is Earth Day. When I first opened my computer screen this morning to check the news, the Google logo was growing – reminding me.

When we lived in Tanzania, we were surrounded by some of the most beautiful wildlife on the face of the planet. I was constantly amazed to see the sheer size of elephants and giraffes and to see the power of the big cats. Living there, it did not take us too long to come into contact with conservation groups. As a matter of fact, our closest “white” neighbors were a British family living about an hour from us on a game park. They lived and worked in Mkomazi National Park and ran the George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trust. They are Tony and Lucy Fitzjohn. You might remember the name of George Adamson as the man associated with the YouTube sensation of “Christian the Lion.” Tony was the young man with George. George was later killed by poachers in Kenya, and the Fitzjohn’s moved to Tanzania to continue the conservation work. They now have a black rhino breeding facility and an African wild dog reintroduction program. We were blessed to get to visit with them and see their amazing work.

During our time in Tanzania, I was able to take a lot of photographs of the beautiful wildlife including the Fitzjohn’s rhinos and wild dogs. I wrote a couple of posts for a big conservation blog, and one of my photographs of a lion was auctioned off at huge events throughout Europe to raise funds for Lion Aid. I love the idea of conservation, and I believe that God has called us to be better stewards of what He has entrusted us.

The question I am still working through is how conservation or stewardship of our planet’s resources fit in with missions. I believe there is a balance. I cannot believe that God would have me, as a Christian, sit in a jungle for years on end studying chimpanzees while the tribes near the jungle are lost and have no Gospel presence. On the other hand, I believe that the extensive study of chimpanzees has tremendously helped conservation efforts. Does that leave room for a Christian with the Great Commission to go and study chimps for years on end? I would love to hear your thoughts on this if you want to leave a comment.

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