by Kate Perkins
Recently I had the opportunity to meet Victor, the Executive Director of Eagles Relief and Development Program who was visiting the DC area with the Environmental Evangelical Network.
We spoke over a short afternoon about the effects of global warming on the culture and economy of Malawi, his home culture. It was both heartbreaking and shocking to realize the ways a shorter growing season (now common in the United States as well) could affect a national food supply. I was especially struck by his comments about how many people in his country who have HIV are dependent on getting nutritious, healthy food and aren't getting it- and how much worse their health conditions become as a result. While in America we can seemingly believe that we have an unlimited food supply-- in reality, food costs DO increase and affect the lives of the vulnerable and sick, including those who have HIV in our own city and country.
I left the conversation wondering if climate change was more pronounced in developing nations like Malawi- and those of us in America can continue to turn a "blind eye" because of our reliance on the industrial economy to produce goods for us. Victor had a clearly personal sense that the people of Malawi- and the world NOW must think of those who will come LATER. While many individualistic, "today" focused Americans would find this sort of reasoning uncompelling, it was clear that to him he felt a deep, moving sense of responsibility towards future generations who would inherit the world we had continued to mess up. It was clear he identified this as a mode of generational sin.
When I asked him what he hoped for the church in America he said a couple of summary remarks that helped me to think about moving forward on climate change:
1. The church in America must take stewardship of the earth seriously and recognize that the scriptures call us to care.
2. The church in America must take responsibility to become a part of the solution to climate change and stop sitting idly by.
3. The church in America just take action both locally and globally on the part of the world and especially vulnerable people whose lives will continue to be impacted in extreme ways by climate change.