When I started writing for magazines, I set out to tell stories about the poor, especially in places I had been in Latin America and elsewhere. As an advocacy journalist, I wanted to use the platform I had to amplify the voices of those on the margins, in hopes of making poverty a bit more personal for those who’d read my words, and of showing the real possibilities for transformational development, justice and peace.
But something unexpected happened. In story after story — a community in Guatemala grappling with an unwanted foreign gold mine; a community in Costa Rica recovering from an earthquake; poor rural farmers in Mexico and Haiti and Tanzania trying to feed their families; those living in low-income parts of Phoenix — I discovered an unavoidable environmental theme. Whether the threat was cyanide in the water, bulldozing for an unneeded road, deforestation at the hands of locals and foreigners, or officials turning a blind eye to the careless practices of toxic industries in an urban neighborhood, I couldn’t escape the realization that the well-being of the poor is directly tied to creation care.
Of course, all of us benefit from creation care, but whereas you and I can insulate ourselves from the worst effects of pollution and contaminated water and deforestation, in many cases the poor — and particularly the rural poor — don’t have that luxury.
This Sunday is Earth Day, and you don’t have to be a raging environmentalist (or even a liberal!) to give some thought to what it might mean to honor our Creator by caring for what he himself has declared good. Consider the psalmist, who joyfully declared, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” We are God’s handiwork, made in his image, but we’re also entrusted to cultivate and steward the rest of his good creation. I suspect Abraham Kuyper had this psalm in mind when he said his most famous words, “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ’This is mine! This belongs to me!’”
The good folks at Plant With Purpose (whose work I covered last summer for Prism) are curating a page over at the snazzy new World Vision ACT:S site for their Earth Day Challenge, providing resources and creative challenges for being more involved. It’s one of a number of campaigns PWP is part of this month, actually. I’d encourage you to check out the Earth Day Challenge and consider what it might look like to honor the Creator and to love our neighbors this Earth Day.
(Not to sway you or anything, but I really like the Trees Please! campaign.)
[Photo credit: Plant With Purpose]