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Caring for God’s Creation in East Asia

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The ability of nations to cope with the impact of climate change varies widely.

“The rich countries of the West may be able to cope with climate change, but what about the people in countries with few resources?” asks Jack (not his real name), a BMS World Mission worker in East Asia. “Do we think they matter to God too?”

These are the important questions that inspire him to do something more to care for creation.

Jack is living and working in a beautiful country in East Asia where he focuses on making factories more environmentally friendly, supported by BMS.

He manages a small consultancy company, working with the ready-made garment and textile industries. It is challenging as he works with polluting tanneries.

“I’m focused on helping improve factories,” Jack said. “I help them identify opportunities to make improvements to their processes and procedures to have a better impact on the environment.”

Asia is a continent of awe and wonder, but climate change doesn’t make any exceptions for beauty and, according to The Guardian, experts warn that Asia may be hit hardest by climate change.

Hundreds of millions of people will likely lose their homes to floods, famine and rising sea levels. The degradation of ecosystems poses threats to the economic, social and cultural stability of the continent.

“I believe we should care for nature because God made this earth for us to enjoy and use,” Jack said. “But he also wanted us to tend and look after it. If we stop caring about nature, I think it’s a sign we’ve stopped caring about God.”

Taking care of nature is important not only because God created it, but also because it has an impact on the economic, social and cultural stability of a place.

Jack has seen climate change take its toll. Flooding, cyclones and storm surges are becoming more frequent and having destructive impacts, particularly in coastal regions.

“Salinity intrusion is a recent issue I’ve seen,” Jack explained. “Excess salt water due to the effects of cyclones is damaging land that was once used for rice growing. Because of this, the land cannot support rice growing and so the loss of agricultural land has an awful impact on people.”

His consultancy company seeks to help identify energy reduction opportunities for factories. These efforts can help significantly reduce the carbon footprint of a garment factory – by up to 40 percent.

“We advise people on corporate social responsibility, energy and waste reduction, fire safety, occupational health, chemical safety and engineering solutions,” Jack said. “We also carry out capacity building by training workers, engineers and managers.”

He shared about animals living on rubbish dumps instead of flourishing in their natural habitats.

“I hear stories of how the wildlife has decreased over the years due to the loss of habitat. I think it’s equally important to care for animals as it is to care for nature. God has the right to have everything he created treated respectfully.”

River pollution has had devastating impacts on marine life due to the dumping of untreated industrial and human waste into rivers.

“There is one river that I’ve seen that looks like a black, stinking swamp,” Jack said. “The pollution is so high that it seems there would be little chance of any marine life surviving.”

Jack doesn’t work directly with animals, but his work in factories seeks to reduce environmental damage, which will have positive implications for animals.

“As nature suffers, it’s usually animals that are hit first,” he said. “It’s so important that we don’t forget about this important part of God’s creation, they deserve to be cared for too.”

Premature deaths, illnesses and threats to the general livelihoods of people – these are just a few of the harrowing ways that people in East Asia are suffering through the consequences of climate change.

In the country where Jack works, rivers are the lifeblood for communities as they live and work.

The people depend on them for fishing, washing, irrigating their crops, cooking and drinking. Yet, most rivers are a complete mess.

“Whether from industrial pollution or just rubbish floating on the surface, the rivers effectively have become huge septic tanks,” Jack said. “The locals tell me that when they were young, they used to drink water straight from the rivers, but that’s impossible now.”

Although it’s horrific, the situation inspires Jack in the work that he does to help make factories more environmentally friendly.

As he leads BMS’ efforts to care for creation in East Asia, he recognizes that it’s really all about caring for people.

“If you love your neighbor, you should care about climate change,” Jack said. “When we treat our planet as something to use with little regard for the consequences, then effectively we are showing little love for our creator and our fellow man.”

“We should care for God’s creation. Everything that was created was for God’s glory,” he said. “It may seem like an impossible task, but if everyone in the U.K. did what they could, the cumulative effect would be tremendous.”

Hailey Brenden is a writer for BMS World Mission. A longer version of this article first appeared in the Autumn 2016 edition of Engage, a publication of BMS, and is used with permission.