Not only do we need each other in our every day lives, but also in the pursuit of a hunger-free world. Our lives are interconnected with people across the world and a unified heart and mind lead us to big action. Both the desperate and the secure need one another as there are essential lessons we learn from one another. (Nail + Yarn art)
It always seems impossible until its done." Nelson Mandela
Is Earth Day Worth Celebrating?
By Tyler P. Amy from Renewal
I recently asked a friend the simple question, “How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?” Somewhat jokingly, he responded, “That’s the hippie’s holiday, and I am certainly no hippie.” Although I think he was looking to get a laugh out of me, his response struck me more with sadness than laughter. This friend — a fellow Christian — just doesn’t see why Earth Day matters.
WHY CARE? Of course, Earth Day isn’t a traditional Christian holiday. Instead, it’s fairly young (it began in1970) and has its fair share of controversies and critics. But I think we can look to the Scriptures and speculate that if Jesus were with us today, he might celebrate Earth Day since he referenced God’s care of birds and plants in one of his teachings (Matthew 6:26-29). Scriptures like Colossians 1:19-20 and Hebrews 1:1-3 lead us to understand that Jesus cares how we think about and, in turn, treat all of creation — people, places, animals, watersheds, ecosystems, etc. This year happens to be one of those years when Earth Day falls on a Sunday. What better day of the week to practice caring for all of God’s creation?
CELEBRATING EARTH DAY So to celebrate this Earth Day on April 22, Christians are joining together around the globe to celebrate Earth Day the best way we know how — worshipping and offering thanks to God for creating such a magnificent planet. One place that many Christians will gather during Earth Week to celebrate and worship is Washington, D.C. This has become a symbolic place for people and groups of all kinds to celebrate and the same will hold true this year. The first event in D.C. is a worship service held at the National Cathedral on Sunday morning, in which creation care leader and author, Dr. Matthew Sleeth, will deliver a sermon titled, Are Christians Blessing or Cursing the Earth — A Call to Action. The sermon will also be broadcast live on the National Cathedral’s website. On Monday morning, a group of young adult Christians representing various denominations will meet with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, as Senior Administration officials plan to discuss the significant role faith communities can play in leading upcoming environmental advocacy opportunities. The best part is — you’re invited to join us in D.C. To sign up or find out more about this meeting and other Earth Day events Renewal is hosting in DC, please visit our website. I’ll end with the same question I started with, but this time it’s your turn to answer.
In light of God’s love for all of His creation, how do you plan to celebrate Earth Day?
5 Places Children are Affected by Armed Conflicts
Kenya: Rain forecast ‘below normal’
Sudan: Fighting heightens prospect of famine
Renewed fighting this week between Sudan and the new nation of South Sudan raises the specter of an all-out confrontation between the two countries, the Associated Press reports. Charles Owubah, World Vision’s East Africa regional leader, says the ongoing violence with the north, plus tribal fighting within South Sudan, puts further pressure on South Sudan as it struggles to find enough food to feed its people. The Sudan government claims the fighting erupted after southern troops attacked an oil-rich town in the border region.
Violence has picked up in recent weeks as the two countries squabble over valuable oil reserves. To make matters worse, the fledgling country is hosting more than 400,000 refugees who are either fleeing fighting in border areas or who have left Sudan to return to their homeland in South Sudan. “I am convinced that the unfolding situation demands a scale-up of our response to meet the increased humanitarian needs in the country,” Charles says. According to a World Food Program food security assessment, South Sudan suffers a national cereal deficit of about 522,000 tons. The assessment predicts an estimated 4.7 million people will be food insecure during 2012, of which 1 million will be severely food insecure. The United Nations estimates cattle raiding and inter-tribal fighting in South Sudan has adversely affected at least 140,000 people. Currently, World Vision is delivering food aid and non-food items such as cooking utensils, soap, and mosquito nets to around 150,000 refugees in Warrap and Unity States. Edwin Asante, World Vision country program director for South Sudan, says the limited capacity of rail and barge transport into South Sudan has restricted returnee inflows into the country. However, he warns the country is on a knife edge due to its already stretched resources. “Even an extra 30,000 coming over the border could easily tip the balance toward famine and create a horrendous situation,” he says.
Remember When Earth Day Was…
Remember when Earth Day was about making crafts out of recycled materials and having special science lessons about the weather? In fifth grade, my class even made little solar ovens out of shoeboxes, tin foil, and plastic wrap; then we cooked hot dogs. I know. Hot dogs cooked in a shoebox doesn’t sound good for humans or the Earth. But it was fun and we learned a little bit about solar energy. Once you’re past the fifth grade, caring for the Earth is no longer as simple as recycling a few cans and repurposing shoeboxes for science projects. The concerns get very real and practical, like the fuel it takes to power vehicles to get us to school and work and the energy it takes to light our homes and power our refrigerators and ovens.
CARING FOR PEOPLE With the recent rise in awareness of humanitarian injustices like human trafficking and malaria, who has time to pick up another cause? If I’m going to care about something, shouldn’t it be people? But what if I told you that caring for the environment is caring for people? You can make an impact on the quality of someone’s life or help alleviate poverty through choices that are also good for the environment.
A LOOK AT HAITI Haiti is a prime example of the tie between the environment and poverty. Haiti has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, in large part driven by the need for energy. As trees were cut down to burn either directly or as charcoal, not only were the trees destroyed as sources of food, but nutrients were no longer being replenished in the soil, making it harder to grow other plants. The lack of roots as stability for the soil and foliage to provide a buffer from wind and rain in the mountainous nation leave people vulnerable. During storm season, this is disastrous. For example, when hurricane Jeanne hit in 2004, more than 3,000 Haitians were killed, compared to 18 in the Dominican Republic, which shares the same island. The majority of the deaths were caused by a massive landslide. If the land continually washes away, people cannot grow food. If homes or businesses are destroyed by the land washing away, people cannot pay for food. So they turn to something that can earn them a little bit of money to get by: cutting down trees for charcoal. It’s a cruel cycle. While we don’t have time for a complete economic history of Haiti to explain how this cycle came to be, I think it is clear that food, energy, the environment, and people all affect each other. And another piece of the puzzle to understand is that industries cross international borders. This is where you and I come into the picture.
DISCONNECTED In the United States many of us have become so disconnected from the process of getting food and energy from their raw sources, we don’t even think about where they come from. But someone has to grow, harvest, and ship our food. And because the pressure is on to do that for the lowest cost and highest yield, people get paid less and the land is expected to give more. We can also see that this culture of wanting more for less increases the amount of human trafficking around the world as industries search for free and cheap labor. This issue is complex, and it gets more so as you start thinking beyond food to all of the other products that we use every day. When I started to realize that everything I use comes from the Earth and that people have been involved — and not always fairly or voluntarily involved every step of the way — it brought the weight of responsibility. Even though I may not be able single-handedly re-grow a forest or rescue bonded laborers from the fields , I might be able to help fight the unfair cycle by being a conscious consumer and making sure the products I buy are fairly traded and environmentally friendly. It’s not a matter of choosing to care about people or the environment. It’s all woven together. Our job is to begin understanding how our choices impact both and make the changes necessary to do good for both. So my challenge to you this Earth Day is to choose one thing to change. Learn about one product you buy or figure out one step you can take to do something good for the Earth — and its people.
If you’re a fan of gum and mints, check out these by our friends at Project 7. You can still buy your mints, but you’ll give back to the earth by planting a fruit tree in the process. Also, you can tell others what you’re doing or get some inspiration here on the ACT:S + Project 7 Earth Day Challenge.
World Malaria Day is April 25th
What would you give up to provide a bet net?
World Malaria Day is April 25th.
Bed nets ARE a game-changer. What can you give up this month to buy a bed net to save a child from Malaria?
In honor of Earth Day we’re asking…
Where do you think is the most beautiful place on Earth?