Reaching out in the Namibian Desert

First of all, let me please thank Blessed Earth for the incredible work that you are allowing our precious Creator to do through you!!

Ever since I was a child, God has called me to see Him in his Creation and to make a difference in the world. I have been living permanently outside the USA since 2005, with the last 4 years being in Namibia.

In Namibia, much of God’s Creation is still wild and natural as He designed it. His invisible hand is at work in nature every day. It is deeply touching and inspiring to walk in the oldest desert in the world, to see flowers survive the harshest conditions, and to observe wildlife living in peace with each other and humans. It is what He intended for us in the spectacular gift of Creation.

Yet, people fail to honor Him. Unfortunately, destructive mass industrialization is finally hitting Namibia, and we have a massive problem with uranium mining. A wasteful, materialistic agenda is being pushed, and some even use misinterpretations of the Bible to feed lies. This is especially dangerous as approximately 85% of Namibians are Christian and many people do not read the Bible for themselves. Most do not understand how the Bible relates to environmental concerns.

I have often struggled to ‘fit-in’ with the Christian community as environmental issues are frequently ignored. I finally reached the breaking point in Namibia where I decided to re-evaluate myself. Perhaps it was my understanding of God that was wrong. I prayed about it and God asked me to read the Bible again with a fresh perspective. In turning back to the great book, I saw just how many important truths in the Bible are being disregarded in today’s society.

In my own life, God has used my struggles as a means to reach out to people on the topic of creation care. He has called on me to defend those that don’t have a voice. He continuously uses Biblical passages to remind me that I am fighting for His cause. There is nothing that will stop me from standing up for my best friend- my Father- my Creator and for all of His Creation that He loves.

While I often feel like a lone voice in the wilderness, God has made it clear to me that I am not alone and that I share this mission with many other good people. THANK YOU for being some of those people and for allowing Him to do incredible work through you! The fact is that our Father is the Great Conservationist. Together and united we are His hands and feet and His voice is being heard! I thank you once again for all of Blessed Earth’s work on behalf of our amazing Creator!

Marcia Stanton serves as the Legal Assistant to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources, and several NGOs in Namibia and is in the process of founding the Earth Organization: Namibia where she will start a project on Creation Care education. Marcia has fourteen years of domestic and international experience dealing with an array of social and environmental issues and holds degrees in Environmental Studies, Desert Studies, and Law (with Environmental and International Law Certificates).

Carpool Prayers

Recently I organized a United Methodist Women’s Retreat on the theme of creation care. Nancy Sleeth was our retreat leader, and through discussion of the Blessed Earth Hope for Creation film series, we had time to swap stories and share ideas. I told the group about how living green through carpooling allowed me to pray with a new colleague who had lost touch with God. At the time of the retreat, I relayed how ride sharing opened a wonderful opportunity to do morning devotions together. Since then, the story has taken a dramatic turn that has revealed more clearly the greater purpose for our carpooling. Last fall the hospice team I work with hired a new supervisor named Denise. Denise and I discovered that we live only three miles from each other and decided to carpool to work. We realized very quickly that we had many things in common—love of fishing, family, and friends. We talked about many things in our lives, including our families. Our daily commute turned into morning devotionals when Denise noticed a new devotional in my car that had been given to me by a friend. The prayers naturally followed. During one of our conversations, Denise commented, “I think we are in this car for a reason.” Her husband lost his job a few years ago; since then, there has been much hurt as well as anxiety about losing their home. Denise had God in her heart, but their relationship had changed for awhile. The ministry in the car has been wonderful, and God works in us every time we ride together. A few weeks ago, Denise went to the hospital in great pain, and wound up having an appendectomy. The appendix turned out to be cancerous (with a rare form of cancer), and she needed follow up surgery to remove part of her colon. Since then, God has been with us in so many ways. We have talked and cried and prayed. Every devotion reminds us that He is there, holding her up as she goes. Even with faith, Denise and I are scared. We trust God, but we also live in the fear of what is going on. I have grown very close to this woman, and our relationship with God continues to grow every day. We knew God put us in this car together for a reason, and now we know what it is. I would like to ask friends of Blessed Earth to add Denise to their prayer lists. Pray for complete and miraculous healing. She also needs financial prayer as her husband is still out of work, house payments are overdue, and she is out of vacation time from work. She is now on leave without pay, and no there is no short-term disability. Carpooling opened a new opportunity for me to love God and love my neighbor. I pray that God will open new and unexpected “green” pathways for you, as well. Sherry Wagenknecht, UMC creation care retreat leader

Sharing the Stuff We Have

I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in the spring of 2008, and proceeded directly into graduate school in Asian Cultures and Languages. As I was finishing up school that May, I had been helping my college ministry put on some different events when a somewhat regular experience launched me onto a slightly different road than I had planned.

Going by a friend’s house to put up, of all things, a dry erase board, I noticed five movies sitting underneath his TV that I had rented that semester from a local store. I proceeded to make a joke that he should have been a friend and let me borrow them instead of me going out to spend money on them. “Well, you are a friend,” Josh said. “You should have asked me. I would have let you borrow them.” It was a Catch-22 moment. He had what I was looking for, and would have let me borrow the films, but I wasn’t aware that he had them. Had I known, I might have saved $30, been a more sustainable consumer, and probably had some good conversations about the movies with Josh as well.

I continued thinking about the idea throughout the summer, wondering how best to establish a network that would be an access point for friends to see what was available to them before deciding to purchase something. I was blessed to come across a course called Social Entrepreneurship. This course allowed me to flesh out an idea for a social venture as though I were presenting it for start-up capital. I was encouraged by my professors to make a reality, and instead of going back to India for another summer studying Urdu, I decided to take my plan to investors.

I was able to raise the initial seed money to create Acts of Sharing, which had a soft launch on Earth Day last year, right as I was finishing my Masters degree. Recently, Acts of Sharing was named an SXSW Interactive Finalist, and we were able to participate at SXSW in the Trade Show and received publicity and accolades from companies and individuals who want to bring AOS to their communities.

As of Earth Day 2011, we have launched our Acts of Sharing iPhone app, with the Android app in the works. The App allows people to share on the go, and even scan/search for items they are shopping for to see if a friend has them before they buy them.

We really do have more together, and if we leverage the resources we already have, we can recreate the culture of the first church described in Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind, no one considered anything to be his own, but they shared everything they had.”

Like Blessed Earth, Acts of Sharing helps people care for God’s creation by encouraging them to share the things they have (from gardening tools to books to camping equipment to DVDs) in order to bless others, rather than continually buying things we only use a few times. Most of what we’re looking for, a friend already has locally. By sharing together we live in deeper community and live in a more sustainable way, both environmentally and financially.

Brian Boitmann

Brian Boitmann is the founder and chief sharer of Originally from Southlake, Texas, he attended the University of Texas at Austin graduating with an M.A. in South Asian History. Brian leads Singles and College ministry at Lake Hills Church in Austin, TX, where he resides.

Practical Ways to be a Christian Each Day

God started tugging on my heart two and a half years ago when I read Dr. Sleeth’s book Serve God, Save the Planet. It was one of the quarterly books assigned to the Sierra Pacific Conference (the Free Methodist conference of Northern California), and I had never been really interested in any of the books they assigned until this one popped up. When I asked my husband Jaymes what this one was about, he quite truthfully said that he didn’t know because he hadn’t read it yet, but maybe I would be interested.

As I read, I felt God confirming in me thoughts and ideas that had been going through my head in recent months. I practically forced the book on my husband and our good friend, reading them quotes and facts whenever I got the chance. I didn’t know the term “creation care” and just how Biblical it is!

I have currently read all of the Sleeth’s books, and have given out multiple copies of Go Green, Save Green to church friends and a co-worker. I probably sound like an awestruck fan–but the truth is that I am SO overjoyed that God is using the Blessed Earth staff for this ministry! Jaymes and I are praying and working on trying to get my family and our church as fired up as we are. We still have a LOT of planks we are trying to remove from our own eyes, but we pray that by doing so we can be an example and a light to those around us.

I have gone to church since I was three and have been a “Christian” for as long as I can remember, but, like many Christians, I always had a hard time sharing my faith. When talking in groups about “how to share your faith,” we would come up with answers like “we need to be nice to people,” or “we need to help the poor when they need help,” or “we need to be a light in the darkness.” But what does this look like on a daily basis? How does this apply to my life NOW? This is what I love most about the Sleeth family’s ministry; they have brought to attention practical ways to be a Christian each day! What better way to go against the grain of this world, and to live like Jesus did, than to start with creation care? The topic of creation care has started more conversations about my faith these past two years than ever before.

We have recently partnered with our youth group to help raise funds to plant trees through Eden Reforestation Projects. We challenge our youth to pick up change they find on the ground or to give up one soda a week and bring it on Wednesday nights. We have raised over $400 so far! A neat story about ERP is that I was casually mentioning Eden to my non-churched co-worker. She often gets funny looks at work because she is very much into conserving and caring for the environment. When she heard about ERP, she wrote a check for $2,000, and has donated more since. She has also started coming to church and we have conversations about God and creation every time we work together. She has even said to me that she didn’t think many Christians cared for environmental issues, and I told her that we are a growing breed.

My husband and I are so excited, and encouraged as we read more and more about creation care and its impact on the Church. We are so grateful to Blessed Earth for providing us with resources that we can share with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. May God continue to pour His blessings on this ministry!

All for the Kingdom,
Erin Lackey

Erin resides in Northern California where she lives with her husband and one-year-old son, Titus. She is a youth leader at Foothill Community Church, and works part-time as a Radiologic Technologist at the local hospital.