Lowe challenges listeners on issues of climate change

November 13, 1013

PLAINVIEW -- Wayland Baptist University students, faculty and staff were challenged by guest speaker Ben Lowe during the university’s fourth annual Creation Care Week. Lowe, founder of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, was on campus to speak about taking care of God’s creation.

Libby ClevelandThe author of Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation, Lowe was on campus Tuesday and Wednesday interacting with students and visiting classes to discuss climate change. Wayland made copies of his book available to students and others who were interested in reading more of what Lowe had to say.

The son of missionary parents, Lowe was raised in Singapore where his family often dealt with water shortages and bad air quality. These experiences influenced his development. Lowe majored in environmental studies at Wheaton College where he helped organize the school’s first national Climate Change Summit.

Lowe explained during Wednesday’s chapel service, however, that his focus when going to college was not environmental studies. As a Christian, he wanted to work in the mission field and was leaning toward medical missions or becoming a pastor. He quickly determined that neither avenue was right for him. He eventually discovered that he could combine his love of nature with a love for people. Since then, he has championed environmental stewardship and has been at the forefront of the call for college and university students to become environmentally aware and active in the preservation of God’s creation.

“If we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength as we are called to; we can’t claim to do that unless we love and care for the world, God’s creation,” Lowe said.
Lowe used examples from his student work in Tanzania and Malawi. While working as a student with an environmental group in Tanzania, it was determined that a local fishery was failing because climate change was affecting the lake and how the water and nutrients mixed, in effect becoming unable to support a prosperous environment for fish. A local fisherman shared his story with Lowe, saying his family had fished the lake for years and they were no longer catching the fish that supported his family and many others. He wanted to know why.

Lowe was able to explain what was causing the lack of fish in the lake, but when the fisherman asked what he could do to change things, Lowe had no answer. He said China and the United States are the two largest polluters and the pollutants they emit are affecting people around the world. Lowe said there are stories like that all around the world in impoverished countries where the effects of climate change and pollution are felt far greater than in industrialized countries.

There are things being done, however, to better protect the environment. Lowe said in Malawi, farmers have stopped raising maze and sorghum and are planting millet instead because it is a drought resistant crop and uses far less water. Other relief and development groups around the world are organizing to address climate change.
“We need the church to stand up and be light in a dark world,” Lowe said. “We need to join God in what he is doing to bring hope and healing to a dying world.”

Lowe outlined three steps Christians can take to be better stewards of God’s creation.
One, he said, is to not respond to guilt, but instead let a love for God and love for each other and creation drive the efforts.

“Let guilt prick our conscience so that we see what is going on in the world with our eyes wide open, but don’t let guilt be our motivation,” Lowe said. “Let love be our motivation.”
Lowe’s second point was to stay away from a “to-do list” that can bog people down. Instead, he said people should think about creation care relationally, focusing on having better relationships through God’s creation.

The third point was not worry about responding to need. He said if people focus on the need, they will inevitably burn out and fall into dissolution and despair. Instead, Lowe said we must respond to our calling and determine what God is calling us to do.

“We are not the ones who will save the world,” he said. “But we follow the God who is.”