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And God saw that it was good: creation care as mission in East Asia

 
Jack is working with factories in East Asia to help save God’s very good creation.

 

“The rich countries of the West may be able to cope with climate change, but what about the people in countries with few resources?” says Jack*, a BMS World Mission worker in East Asia. “Do we think they matter to God too?”

 

These are the important questions that inspire Jack to do something more to care for creation.

 

Jack is living and working in a beautiful country in East Asia where he focuses on making factories more environmentally friendly, supported by BMS. He manages a small consultancy company, working with the ready-made garment and textile industries. It is challenging as he works with hugely polluting tanneries.

 

“I’m focused on helping improve factories,” says Jack. “I help them identify opportunities to make improvements to their processes and procedures to have a better impact on the environment.”

Asia is exquisite. From the beautiful Bengal tigers to the heavenly Himalayas and the phenomenal faces that inhabit the land. It’s a continent of awe and wonder but climate change doesn’t make any exceptions for beauty and, according to The Guardian, experts warn that Asia may be hit hardest by climate change. The impacts will be devastating. Hundreds of millions of people will likely lose their homes to floods, famine and rising sea levels. The very existence of the Bengal tiger is threatened. And the degradation of ecosystems poses threats to the economic, social and cultural stability of the continent. Although all this is heart-breaking, we can find inspiration from the Bible and hope from BMS mission workers like Jack.

 

“And God said, ‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let the dry ground appear.’ And it was so. God called the dry ground, ‘land’, and the gathered waters he called ‘seas’. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1: 9-10

 

“I believe we should care for nature because God made this earth for us to enjoy and use,” says Jack. “But he also wanted us to tend and look after it. If we stop caring about nature I think it’s a sign we’ve stopped caring about God.”

 

Taking care of nature is important not only because God created it, but also because it has an impact on the economic, social and cultural stability of a place.

Jack has seen climate change take its toll on the terrain of the country where he lives in East Asia. Weather extremes like flooding, cyclones and storm surges are becoming more and more frequent and having destructive impacts on the land. These storms have been especially damaging to the land in coastal regions.

 

“Salinity intrusion is a recent issue I’ve seen,” says Jack. “Excess salt water due to the effects of cyclones is damaging land that was once used for rice growing. Because of this the land cannot support rice growing and so the loss of agricultural land has an awful impact on people.”  

 

The main goal of the consultancy company Jack manages is to help identify energy reduction opportunities for factories. These efforts can help significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a garment factory ― by up to 40 per cent.

 

“We advise people on corporate social responsibility, energy and waste reduction, fire safety, occupational health, chemical safety and engineering solutions,” says Jack. “We also carry out capacity building by training workers, engineers and managers.”  

 

“So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kinds. And God saw that it was good.”

Genesis 1: 21

 

Sad images of monkeys, mongoose and wild boar living on rubbish dumps instead of flourishing in their natural habitats come to mind when Jack thinks of the animals he sees often in East Asia.

 

“I hear stories of how the wildlife has decreased over the years due to the loss of habitat,” says Jack. “I think it’s equally important to care for animals as it is to care for nature. God has the right to have everything he created treated respectfully.”

 

Jack has also seen how pollution in the rivers has had devastating impacts on marine life due to the dumping of untreated industrial and human waste into rivers.

 

“There is one river that I’ve seen that looks like a black, stinking swamp,” says Jack. “The pollution is so high that it seems there would be little chance of any marine life surviving.”

 

It goes beyond water. Endangered Bengal tigers in East Asia also face a grim future. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the rising sea levels that are caused by climate change are destroying their habitat along the coasts. Although tigers are a highly adaptable species, projected rising sea levels could outpace even their ability to adapt. Their very existence is threatened by the changing climate.

Jack doesn’t work directly with animals, but his work in factories seeks to reduce environmental damage, which will have positive implications for animals.

 

“As nature suffers it’s usually animals that are hit first,” says Jack. “It’s so important that we don’t forget about this important part of God’s creation, they deserve to be cared for too.”

 

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”

Genesis 1: 27-28, 31

 

Premature deaths, illnesses and threats to the general livelihoods of people – these are just a few of the harrowing ways that people in East Asia are suffering through the consequences of climate change.

 

In the country where Jack works, rivers are the lifeblood for communities as they live and work. The people depend on them for fishing, washing, irrigating their crops, cooking and drinking. Yet, most rivers that Jack sees are a complete mess.

 

“Whether from industrial pollution or just rubbish floating on the surface, the rivers effectively have become huge septic tanks,” says Jack. “The locals tell me that when they were young they used to drink water straight from the rivers, but that’s impossible now.”

 

Although it’s horrific, the situation inspires Jack in the work that he does to help make factories more environmentally friendly.

  

One specific way that he has helped to make a difference is by working with factories to optimise their use of dye chemicals. This can lead to a big reduction in the use of water for washing during the dying process. Often a 30 or40 per cent reduction can be achieved. This reduces the outgoing toxic effulent, which ultimately means less pollution in rivers.

 

As Jack leads BMS’ efforts to care for creation in East Asia, he recognises that it’s really all about caring for people.

 

“If you love your neighbour, you should care about climate change,” says Jack. “When we treat our planet as something to use with little regard for the consequences, then effectively we are showing little love for our creator and our fellow man.”

 

God saw all of his creation was good, and we have a chance to keep it that way. Our world is in a fragile state, but as people like Jack lead the way, we find hope for the future. Together we can make a difference.

 

“We should care for God’s creation. Everything that was created was for God’s glory,” says Jack. “It may seem like an impossible task, but if everyone in the UK did what they could, the cumulative effect would be tremendous.”

 

 

*Name changed

 

Words: Hailey Brenden

Genesis egg photo by Sputnikcccp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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