The article below is by Mark Keller, pastor of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church. It appeared in the congregation’s newsletter.
On the surface it seems as if the title to this little article is absurd. How could a tiny group of HMC Christians imagine that they have any impact what-so-ever on the agriculture of Asia ? But, then again, that kind of skepticism has been around from the beginning of the Jesus movement. Christians hold the Biblical concept that God is honored and calls and transforms others as we live more faithfully to His desires for the world.
What is happening to agriculture in Asia anyway? It is changing fast. I first went to the Asian nation of Nepal in 1985. Because of my Iowa farm background I held interest in and intentionally observed the farming practices there. I listened to the agriculture workers and farmers.
Nepali agriculture amazed me. Rocky, steep mountain sides were carefully terraced and coaxed into producing surprising amounts of food. Farmers who had never been to first grade let alone a Land Grant College knew how to produce food in healthy sustainable ways. Farmers well understood the amount of compost/manure needed to produce the best crop in a wide variety of conditions. Nepali farmers, without engineering degrees, knew how to bring the right amount of irrigation water from far away to reach all parts of steep mountainside plots.
Nepali farmers knew the weather, too. Without weather forecasters they knew what was going to happen and when it would happen. “This is the season for small rains. This is the windy season. This is the wet season and time to plant. A dry-land wintertime crop will produce because an ever dependable week of wet weather comes in the coldest time of the year.”
After a 15 year absence our family visited Nepal again in 2008. Things had changed a lot, including the weather. Weather patterns are no longer certain. Rain does not come when expected and in adequate amounts. The yearly monsoon rains are due to warm wet air striking the snow and ice of the eternal snows of the Himalayan Mountains . Now the snow and ice is in fast retreat from those mountains, delaying and shortening the monsoon seasonal rains. The Himalayan Mountains are warming! Any Nepali farmer can tell you something is wrong!
I have been to Jomsom, a small town four days walk from where we used to live. Jomsom, in the Kali Gandaki River Valley is at 2,300 meters in altitude and in the heart of the Annapurna range. This remote town experienced no snowfall last winter for the first known time. The temperature soared way above normal to 27C and only fell to 13C, against a usual -4C. The mountain snowline there has risen above 5,000 meters.
How can a tiny group of HMC Christians imagine that they have any impact what-so-ever on the agriculture of Asia ? The Group has stated its Vision and Mission :
In response to God’s call to be stewards of all of life the HMC Creation Care Group will seek to be channels of encouragement for God’s healing and hope for the earth to flow from within us to others across the street and around the world.
Further, the HMC Creation Care Group seeks to intentionally be a resource to equip our congregation and community with practical ways of caring for the earth motivated by Biblical principles. Our values include: Respect for God’s creation, Restoration of God’s creation, and Pursuit of creation friendly lifestyles.
Globalization teaches us that we are interconnected. Our behaviors do have impact upon those who live on the other side of the globe. As Christians become increasingly faithful to God’s desires for the world, we will choose to behave in less harmful ways toward the earth. Better care of the earth is a way of caring not only for ourselves but others, even in Asia . HMC Creation Care seeks to witness to our faith and trust in God by joyfully using the church land property to honor Christ. So far, we have started to grow local food on our church land; we have planted native trees and flowering plants to enhance a nature path. The HMC Nature Path teaches, invites physical exercise and inspires worship of God. It is also a way to foster community in an increasingly fragmented world.
HMC Creation Care Participants believe that tiny, tiny actions multiplied over and over by God’s people will change the world. We even believe that our faithful and prayerful responses can even positively benefit the agriculture of Asia and the entire world!