When asked what prompted him to study the lowly peanut, the famous African American inventor and educator, George Washington Carver, said, “Why, I just took a handful of peanuts and looked at them. ‘Great Creator,’ I said, ‘Why did you make the peanut? Why?’ With such knowledge as I had of chemistry and physics I set to work to take the peanut apart.”
I often have moments – whether laboring or weeding or harvesting in my garden – when I reflect on the bounty that comes from God’s hand. Like Carver’s peanut, my squash and tomatoes and sweet corn and mustard greens are all tangible evidence of God’s creativity and goodness.
In those moments of reflection, I think of Genesis 2, which describes God himself planting a garden in Eden. After establishing himself as the “First Farmer,” he placed humans in the garden to develop it and take care of it – to work it, till it, conserve it and protect it.
I guess you could say a garden emits the fragrance of a biblical worldview. And that fragrance reminds me of a conference that I co-hosted. The conference transformed many churches and their communities.
From Worldview Conference to Planting Trees
Several hundred people gathered near Nairobi, Kenya from all over the world for a creation care and biblical worldview conference. During our time together, we learned that the environment has suffered at the hands of humans. Forests have been decimated through clear cutting as well as slash and burn agricultural practices. Waterways have been polluted by industrial, residential and agricultural runoff. Lush lands have become deserts and no longer provide life-sustaining food. And ultimately, children suffer the consequences through malnutrition, waterborne diseases and more.
Most importantly, we learned about the ways in which God desires to restore relationships between himself and humans and between humans and creation.
Toward the end of the conference, I can still remember the tangible presence of the Holy Spirit that came upon the room. Many of us felt a deep sense of repentance — not a call to become Christians (most, if not all, present were already Christ Followers) — but a call to be an instrument of healing for the broken relationships that existed between humans and creation.
A heightened desire to incorporate holistic agriculture into my own life and work drove me to answer the call I felt at that conference. Many things resulted from this growing commitment.
- I wrote an article for my neighborhood association newsletter to bring attention to how lawn fertilizer was destroying crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. That prompted some neighbors to reduce or stop their practice of fertilization or to require their lawn services to use earth-friendly fertilizers and pesticides instead of chemicals.
- I intensified my commitment to practice sustainable agriculture in my own vegetable garden by increasing my composting and building organic matter.
- I’ve continued to use my position at Food for the Hungry (FH) to protect the environment and teach sustainable farming practices.
In addition to these personal changes, I was amazed at what occurred among many of the pastors at the conference. They experienced such a dramatic worldview change that they began preaching to their congregations about caring for the environment. They committed to dedicating at least one Sunday a year to planting trees as an act of worship to God. I planted trees in my yard, but these pastors and their congregations have been responsible for planting tens of thousands of trees since that conference. It’s even impacted the non-Christians in their communities to see Christians so concerned about the environment.
What Can You Do?
In Romans 8, the Apostle Paul says that the creation is groaning in pain waiting for the children of God to be revealed and to take action. For you, it can be as easy as recycling. You can start your own vegetable garden or buy organic produce. If you see some kind of practice harming the land or water in your community, you can help to fix it by being part of the clean-up effort and writing a letter about it to the editor of your local newspaper. And you can prayerfully consider giving a financial gift to FH to help us continue impactful worldview training in all of our programs, including livelihoods, health & nutrition, education and disaster risk reduction.