Environmental Awareness on Christian College Campuses

Christianity Today has an article entitled Christian Colleges’ Green Revolution. Here are a few quotes:

“When I was exposed firsthand to the impact that poor environmental care can cause, I was shocked,” Semenyuk says, recalling a protest he witnessed in Nicaragua. “The people were field workers on banana plantations where extremely powerful chemicals are used to make a ‘perfect banana’ for consumers in the U.S. The chemicals are outlawed in the U.S. and in other developed countries.” The people protesting had permanent chemical burns, Semenyuk says, and their children suffered birth defects. Semenyuk realized that his own consumption patterns—even ones as simple as buying a banana—had a significant impact on people living elsewhere.

Connecting the environment with other issues, such as poverty and evangelism, has helped environmental initiatives gain support.

Semenyuk, who is now doing graduate work in environmental engineering at Johns Hopkins University, says he considered studying medicine, but realized he would only be helping one person at a time. “Through engineering,” he says, “I can help [whole] communities at a time, be able to train others, and relieve people from the need of seeing a doctor by solving the problem that is causing disease in the first place.”

There is also an evangelistic dimension. Lowe notes that some of the 40 members of Wheaton’s student chapter of A Rocha, an international conservation organization, volunteer at the county’s forest preserves each week. “People who are not in contact with a church or who are frustrated with Christians or don’t view Christians as caring about the environment see us caring for creation,” he says.

For many students, creation care is grounded in soul care. When people ask Semenyuk if he is a “tree hugger,” he replies, “I’m a people hugger.”

He explains, “By taking care of the environment, I am taking care of people. I feel called to missionary work in preaching and evangelizing, but if people will not live to hear my message by the time I arrive because of my poor environmental decisions, the Word is preached in vain.”

I’m always pleased when Christians give more than lip service to “creation care,” “stewardship,” and “conservation.”

Grace and Peace

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