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.

The Future of the Global Church

15 03 2012

I just received a book in the mail that I would HIGHLY recommend. It is called The Future of the Global Church by Patrick Johnstone. You might know the author as the one who worked many long years on the first three versions of the fantastic book, Operation World. This new book, published last year, is large with a lot of maps, graphs, and pictures. It contains information that I believe every Christian should know and understand. The first part of the book highlights Nine Global Challenges…

  • Population – The population is literally exploding in some of the most unreached areas of the world. As Christians, how are we going to respond: going or staying?
  • Migration – God is literally bringing the world to our doorstep. Refugees are pouring into the US, but the rest of the world is experiencing this as well. The amazing part is that some people groups that were in completely closed countries are now our next door neighbors.
  • Urbanization – The trend of people moving into cities is accelerating. As Christians, we must be prepared to reach cities and to find the unreached people groups living among them.
  • Health & Disease – As populations in the poorest of countries explode, disease increases. AIDS in Africa, where it is as high as 1/4 the population, is decimating entire villages. Johnstone says, “The Church is the only network with the human resources, moral imperative and spiritual motivation to deal with the root causes of the spread of HIV and help its victims by providing local, self-sustaining mechanisms for survival, a loving community for the present and real hope for the future.”
  • Climate Change – Whether you are on the side that thinks climate change is due to human abuses or it is simply a cyclical effect, most will agree that something is going on. The weather seems to be strange. There has been a dramatic increase in catastrophic earthquakes. For Christians, this could signal the end times. The Bible talks about an increase in these types of things during the last days.
  • Economy – As we have already experienced, the economy is a fragile thing. There is a growing disparity between the rich and the poor. ¬†Corruption is on the rise globally.
  • Energy Resources – The price of oil and gasoline at the pumps continue to rise, not to mention that oil is a limited resource and not renewable. At the same time, renewable alternative energy resources are too expensive.
  • Politics & Freedom – We live in a day and age of increased hostility. At any given time, the US seems to be on the brink of war with any number of countries. The problem of slavery and human trafficking is not a past problem but a present reality.
  • Water Resources – Fresh water resources are dwindling. The US is, by statistics, considered under stress in this area. Countries in North Africa and the Middle East are at critical deficiencies.

As believers, we must be prepared to face these realities and not just look at them through our stained-glass windows. This cannot be about us just building our own little church. It must be much bigger than that.  It is imperative that we start thinking in terms of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom is like yeast. It does not work right if it is just clumped up together. It must be spread through the entire dough (Luke 13:20-21). I take this to mean that we need believers in every people group actively sharing their faith in order to see an indigenous church-planting movement started, but also to see believers in every area of life making real Godly change within healthcare systems, government structures, corporations, etc.

%d bloggers like this: