Multiplex: The Environmental Crisis – David Kidma – Cape Town 2010

>>The role of the church in caring for the
environment. Focus on Papua, New Guinea as an illustration. I count it a great privilege
to participate in this Congress and in this session on the environment and especially
to be invited to make this small contribution. The issue of caring for the environment has
been dear to my heart. I’m not an academic scholar on the subject, so I would simply
like to share some reflections based on my experience working with the churches of Papua,
New Guinea. In 2005, the Evangelical Alliance of Papua,
New Guinea published a book called “Christians Caring for the Environment in Papua, New Guinea:
A Handbook of Principles and Practice.” This was an especially significant event for
four main reasons. Firstly, information. PNG is confronted with
a wide range of environmental challenges, most of which are very closely linked to the
daily lives of the people. A 2002 World Bank survey noted serious threats to the forests,
soils, rivers and other freshwater resources, marine resources and the atmosphere. There
are consequently threats to many indigenous plant and animal species and to the soil and
economic and the physical well-being of the human population. Yet information on these
matters is not readily available to ordinary people. The handbook uses basic English to
provide clear technical analysis of the key issues and suggests guidelines for awareness-raising
and practical action for educators, local technical practitioners and community motivators.
As a church in Papua, New Guinea, that’s one of the actions that we’ve taken to address
this issue that we’re currently discussing. Secondly, education. PNG has a rich Christian
heritage that has produced a nominally Christian nation where more than 90% of the 6 million
citizens profess allegiance to a local church. The churches play a dominant role in education
and the handbook provides a needed, reliable foundation for the developing of relevant
curricula and lesson materials. Recognition of the need for the churches in PNG to play
a strong and active role in the national program of conservation and rehabilitation of an environment
gave impetus to the production of the handbook. We are doing – also we’re trying to write
a curriculum for the Department of Education so that this material can be used in our educational
system. The Evangelical Alliance of Papua New Guinea has more than 100 schools, community,
primary and secondary schools. We’re trying to develop this material so that this can
be taught in schools so that students can begin to practice caring for the environment.
Thirdly, motivation. The handbook provides a motivational tool by way of practical guide
to the relevant biblical material especially for use by teachers and preachers who already
have the ear of most of the population. Fourthly, contextualization. The handbook
affirms the underlying holistic worldview of the people of PNG and the result has been
enthusiastic, embracing of the biblical message about God’s purpose for his creation and
the relevant ecological, economic, cultural and political issues. Creation protests its
treatment by human beings. It groans and travails in all its parts. Christians, you are earth
keepers. Rise to your calling.

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