The short books in the New Testament after the gospels were all originally letters (or epistles), many from Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. He wrote the letters to groups of Christans who had formed in regions all across the ancient world, some of whom he had met and others who were strangers to him. The letters were filled with encouragement and correction. Paul sought to guide the early followers of the Way of Jesus into right relationship with God and with others.
Back in January, the World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center held a Creation Care Webinar for organizations around the globe to share about what other Christians are doing to care for creation. The call was inspiring and challenging. It highlighted the work being done by Christians around the globe to help our brothers and sisters in other countries navigate an increasing number of rising temperatures, droughts, famine, floods, and other natural disasters.
As someone who lives in the United States, the webinar felt like one of Paul’s letters.
“Greetings from the churches around the world to the people worshiping in the houses of America!” the letter might begin. “We are so grateful for all of the work that has been done by our brothers and sisters in Christ so far, and yet there is so much more work to do.”
There are communities of believers across the United States who are awake to the needs of our neighbors in foreign lands, but many of us are slumbering in our relative comfort and wealth. If Paul were writing to the American church today, he might skip the pleasantries at the beginning and jump right in. “Wake up!” he might shout. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2a).
If the church is supposed to look different from the rest of the world, and the pattern of the rest of the world is exploitation and waste, then how different are we? Several global agencies that also have a presence in the United States are challenging believers everywhere to take action and to pray. The needs are great in the United States, but in neighboring communities around the world, the needs are far greater, beyond our imaginations.
Our neighbors around the world are suffering. How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus if we’re not even listening to their cries of pain?
Renew Our World
According to their website, “Renew Our World is a global movement of Christians who believe that since we are truly image bearers of God, we should act like it—living out love for one another in actions and in truth. Since we are image bearers of God, we won’t stand by while our neighbours are trapped in poverty, and we won’t stay idle as creation is left untended, and inequality is left to fester.”
Renew Our World connects Christians around the globe through national campaigns to encourage people to pray, live, and campaign for a more fair and sustainable world. They believe the church is called to lead the way in these efforts. The global teams have launched campaigns in churches and nations to raise awareness and change behaviors that adversely affect our environment and the lives of our neighbors. Beyond these campaigns, their website provides a wealth of resources to help churches and communities pray, worship, and act.
Another organization that frequently partners with Renew Our World is Tearfund. Tearfund is a global organization with an office in the United States as well as offices in other nations around the world. Tearfund USA has three primary goals: church and community transformation, advocacy, and disaster and crisis response. These three goals aim to reduce and eliminate poverty and injustice around the world in the name of Jesus, who is redeeming all things.
Like Renew Our World, TearfundUSA has an abundance of resources to help individuals and churches spread the word about the most urgent needs in our world today. TearfundUSA is on the ground supporting the people of Turkey and Syria, feeding people in East Africa, empowering farmers in Mozambique, and more.
The Rubbish Campaign
These two organizations together launched the Rubbish Campaign this March in Australia to raise awareness about and reduce the use of single-use plastics. It is also a campaign to encourage the largest producers of these plastics to take a stand and make a difference.
According to Tearfund’s website:
“Plastic pollution scars landscapes, fills our oceans and harms the health of the world’s poorest people. Nevertheless, global plastic production is still increasing and is set to double over the next ten to 15 years.”
Read the Rubbish Campaign’s report, “The Burning Question,” deepen your faith, and take action.
Paul doesn’t waste words when talking about how various church communities needed to gather and share resources in order to support the work of the Lord around the known world. For we are the body of Christ. “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
What is the work that the American Church is called to do, the church with access to the greatest resources? “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48 NIV).
Sweet, slumbering, distracted church of America, your brothers and sisters are hurting. Rise up and join the global movement to make the love and salvation of Jesus Christ real and known to all who suffer.