Recycling for Jesus in Brazil
Recycling can be a Christian act in a country famous for its rainforests, according to BMS World Mission workers.
Recycled bottle sofas, recovering drug addicts collecting waste paper and mudslides sparking renewed concern for God’s creation: it’s all part of understanding environmental concerns at a Christian college in Brazil. Mark and Suzana Greenwood, BMS workers in Rio, reflect on creation care and its place in mission.
Caring for creation is a theme that has been speaking to our heart more and more each day. Our house is set beside the Tijuca forest, in Rio de Janeiro, so we have the privilege of waking up with the birds singing and the monkeys chattering. This is a huge contrast to the busy road in the highly populated neighbourhood just 100 metres down our pathway.
Rio is a place where this beauty and the strength of creation meet. In the two rainy seasons we have been here we have witnessed the damage floods and mudslides cause. As January rains approach, people who live by the hillsides ask themselves if they might be hit next time.
Better than worrying, the Church can act. In Brazil this means raising awareness of our responsibility to care for God’s creation. Exercising this care is a privilege and implies an understanding that the earth has life, and that our well-being is closely connected to the planet’s well-being.
Recycling is one way of doing our part. On average, every 50 kilos of recycled paper saves one tree from being cut down. Each tree that remains standing is shelter for birds and other creatures that depend on a balanced ecosystem to survive, a source of photosynthesis providing us with ‘fresh air’ and good support to hold the hillside together. Recycling also decreases the need to extract resources from nature and decreases the quantities of rubbish collected in municipal dumps.
However, recycling is an idea still in its infancy in Brazil. We live on a Bible college campus, and have had an opportunity to introduce these ideas into the life-cycle of the community here. Over the last year the seminary administration has been encouraged to set up recycling points around the campus, and they have promoted the practice through chapel services and email posts.
One of the college students, Flavio, runs a project which works with the social reintegration of men that have been rehabilitated from drug/alcohol abuse. These new Christians live on campus and are the workforce behind the recycling initiative. As well as separating rubbish they are preparing a herb garden which will use compost produced with organic waste from the seminary’s kitchens and they are manufacturing sofas from plastic bottles.
As the college students and workers separate the waste for recycling daily, they are able to reflect on our role as carers for God’s creation. We pray that this reflection will bring to their hearts a deep understanding of the Church’s ability to act in this way and will bear fruit in their future ministries as pastors and missionaries.
Has creation care fallen off the Christian agenda? Is the Church lagging behind society on green issues? Who will be worst affected by climate change? Brendan Bowles of BMS environmental partners Climate Stewards answers these questions in the video below.
To find out more about how BMS is working around the world to care for creation, take a look at theBMS Eco Challenge Fund.