The Canadian Prairies can seem like a hard place to live. It gets very cold in wintertime. The growing season is short, and the crop options are limited.
For Prairie dwellers in Canada, it’s possible to think the shift in weather patterns – year after year, winters are milder than we remember – as a good thing. Who wants to ride a bike over snow and ice when you could drive in a heated car instead? Why should we inconvenience ourselves to care about the earth?
Scientists are sounding alarm bells about the state of the earth. Whatever you call it, whatever you think caused it, scientists agree that climate change is happening.
For Anabaptist Christians centred on Jesus, community and reconciliation, caring for God’s creation is not a political action but a divine calling.
In our worship of God, we pay attention to the physical surroundings where live. We thank God for his creative work, and uphold our responsibility as stewards. Our task of tending and caring is written throughout the Old Testament and the New, Ndunzi Muller writes in the feature article.
Similarly, we love people, made in God’s image, whether they are nearby or far away.
Climate change causes people to suffer: often those with fewest resources to adapt or recover are the most affected. Increased frequency and severity of extreme weather patterns means storms are more destructive, droughts last longer and floods are more severe. Destroyed homes and livelihoods, hunger, displacement, even deaths result.
As Christians, we must be aware of how our actions have affected our neighbours on the other side of the world, and begin to take different actions, large or small, to help rather than harm the environment.
In rural areas in the Philippines, Anabaptist-rooted organization Coffee for Peace teaches that the earth does not need to suffer for human to make a living. They train farmers to work at peace with the land – and at peace with their neighbours and God.
Rebecca Froese in Germany has the opportunity to act on a large scale. A participant in the World Council of Churches, she attended the Paris climate accords to call for justice. And she also takes action in her local congregation with recycling and solar initiatives.
Similarly, José Antonio Vaca Bello acts in both ways in Colombia. He works with all kinds of allies to urge for moderation and better practices to halt environmental degradation from resource exploitation in his city. But he also acts within his local church, teaching that simple measures can make a difference.
Based in the USA, Mennonite Creation Care Network provides resources for learning and for worship that can be downloaded from their website. Evangelical Christian and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe posts videos on YouTube and Facebook to teach about the issues. From the grassroots, Carole Suderman writes tips on simple living for her local congregation, Boulder Mennonite in Colorado. Over 20 years, she has written nearly 1,000 suggestions for household practices, seasonal activities or advocacy. All these little steps are rooted in her Mennonite convictions of simplicity, responsibility to God’s task for us, and love for people.
It’s easy to feel hopeless or fatalistic when we consider the complexity of God’s creation, and the changes it is undergoing due to human actions. Our calling to participate in the upside-down
kingdom Jesus ushered in will not allow us to do nothing. The God who saves us also invites us to do his work on earth.
—Karla Braun is editor of Courier and writer for Mennonite World Conference. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada.
This article first appeared in Courier/Correo/Courrier April 2018.