Environmental Stewardship…Creation Care…Sustainable Agriculture…These words highlight the topic of the fourth Caroline Project and are something our family values very much. Since I (Joel) have a connection to the individual we’re supporting, I’m excited to share this post with you.
Most of my professional training centers on “Creation Care”; simply defined as taking care of God’s creation because He made it. This was the topic of my master’s thesis, which later got published as a book entitled A Field Guide to Christian Environmental Education. To me there is a connection between our relationship with God and our relationship with the land. Our family is committed to exploring both of these on a deeper level. We take very seriously the command given in Genesis 2:15 which says: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it.” I think it is helpful to look at the Hebrew words for “till” and “keep”. The word for “till” is abad, which means: to care for something in a careful way. It means to take care of something. So we are called to take care of God’s garden. The second word “keep” is shamar i. This means: to safe keep. It is used elsewhere in the Bible in a popular benediction in Numbers 6:24-26. In this passage it describes how God safe keeps and protects us. So- we are called to safe keep and protect the garden.
In the classes I teach, I am able to focus on these things. I try to open my students’ eyes to truly see the creation in a way that they maybe haven’t considered before. I try to inspire love for God’s creation; not to replace the focus of God but because they are things He created.
I believe strongly that people cannot separate themselves from the land. If you are curious how intimately we are connected to the land, you can start your search in Romans 8:19-22. Our sin made devastating changes to the natural world. The creation waits in eager expectation for humankind to be transformed so that it can be freed from its bondage. This transformation comes through Christ- His death, resurrection, and second coming. People, I don’t know how much more of a connection there could be than that. I believe that someday I am going to have to give an account for how well I have managed what God has lovingly provided through his works.
I propose that it is a mistake for organizations whose mission is to care for people who are forgotten, marginalized, and living in poverty but are not including taking care of the land in which these people live as part of their mission. There are multiple reasons why these people are in the position they are in; many of which are related to the environmental context in which they live. Many are hurting due to the mismanagement of the natural resources that are there to provide for their needs. Unfortunately this tends to funnel into a downward spiral of God’s creation not being able to support the people that it was designed to care for. Again these ideas and concepts are something I work hard at getting my students to think about.
So I have to say, it was neat when a former student of mine emailed me asking if she could sit down with our family and discuss her ministry with World Venture; an organization that teaches sustainable agricultural to people living in poverty in order to teach them about Christ. I remember having Hannia in my Environmental Science class; a science course that is designed for “non-sciency” people. I remember that the principles from the course really connected with her; specifically how much people are connected to and dependent on the land. She took the interest that started in class and pursued learning how to teach people to be better stewards of the land in regards to farming so that the Creation could do what it was designed to do. Through other formative experiences Hannia discovered that God was calling her to do this work fulltime in the Philippines. She is currently raising support to start as a full time missionary by this spring.
When our family met with Hannia, she explained that farming is a pivotal to someone living on the island of Mindanao. It is central to their way of life. She will be teaching people how to farm sustainably and effectively in hopes that relationships will be made and she can share the Gospel of Christ. Hannia is focusing on the physical needs first then working on the spiritual needs, knowing that the creation is one of the stronger witnesses of God in any language (Romans 1:20). I love the title line for her ministry: planting seeds in hearts and fields.
Hannia is currently building her support and is especially looking for people to be committed to pray for her and to partner with her financially in this ministry. For more information about Hannia and how to get involved, please go here. worldventure.com/hfreeman
Ezekiel 34: 18-19 “Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?”
It is time to stop trampling. It is time to stop muddying. It is time for those who are on the outside, who are unseen and unheard, to be given good pasture and clean water. It is time to allow the creation to do what it was designed to do: provide and sustain.