Environmental justice is a complicated web. One small consumer choice has both human and non-human impacts in places near and far. It can feel impossible to tackle the issue. But Prarthini Selveindran, an FES ministry staff worker in Singapore, believes it is best to approach it as a journey.
Prarthini lives in Singapore, a city-state filled with lush gardens and skyscrapers bordering green parks and blue water. Despite the city-state’s dazzling surroundings, residents are removed from nature. Their seemingly natural setting is curated to combine beauty with organization. For this reason, Prarthini says the wonders of God’s creation are often overlooked.
Prarthini is passionate about helping students develop that sense of wonder as the first step of their creation care journey. She invites them to “moving classrooms,” organized in partnership with Friends of A Rocha Singapore, which take participants into nature for workshops, gardening, and food tours. She also challenges students to search Scripture for evidence of creation care. The topic is dear to her since her own FES leaders encouraged her to wrestle with the issue whilst attending university. She shares a Bible passage that has influenced her own journey.
“Psalm 104 is a text that has shaped much of my reflection on how we are to be within the created order, and how we can relate within the created order. It’s got to do with these big themes of interconnectedness and delight both in what God has created and realigning our perspective to view the world through a theocentric lens. It’s important because we live in a broken but beautiful world. Caring for creation is about making sense of how to live within that.”
Inviting others along
Now she has passed her fervor to two university students who have begun journeys of their own. Dennis Tan and Rebecca Goh say that discussing creation care in their FES groups has given them a new perspective for caring for others. And they want to invite more people along.
Working with students from multiple universities, the two have started an Instagram account to generate creation care content. They post suggestions about sustainable living, facts about the environment, and discussion topics.
As they encourage other students to think more about creation care, Dennis and Rebecca recognize the immensity of the matter. Rather than viewing it as a burden, they have learned three ways to view caring for creation as a feasible part of everyday life.
Dennis says to look up. Literally. Lift your eyes from your screen and look outside. He says that when we slow down and spend time in nature, we begin to wonder at what God has created. And when we wonder at something, we want to take care of it.
Rebecca adds that wonder isn’t hard, but it requires slowing down.
“Wonder begins simply by paying attention to things we usually don’t pay attention to. I think technology helps us speed up and be more efficient, but sometimes slowing down helps us to be in awe and wonder of God’s world.”
Dennis adds that finding opportunities for wonder can be simple.
“Start exploring the natural areas around you like parks or nature trails. Even just looking up from our books to look outside the window [helps us to] see God’s hand in the skies and the greenery around.”
2. Make small decisions
It is easy to feel paralyzed when making sustainable consumer decisions. But Rebecca and Dennis advise students not to get ahead of themselves. Rebecca says that students can begin their journey with small practical steps.
“To begin, use a reusable water bottle and reusable shopping bags. When you’re comfortable with those changes, make larger changes. Share these goals with your friends so that you can be accountable to one another.”
Dennis says that students have a unique opportunity to naturally consume less because they typically have less money to spend. He recommends making a budget to be a responsible steward of both your money and the environment.
“I think it really makes me think hard about where all my money is going. I’m privileged to not have to worry about money all the time, but it shocks me sometimes to see how much of my money is going to food, or non-essential expenses, and in turn, how much I’m consuming! It makes me think hard about the next time I want to buy something new, and whether it is faithful to God’s precepts to live a simple lifestyle.”
Rebecca says that it is important to stay curious. She advises students to pursue an array of perspectives on the issue and to examine the scriptural evidence for themselves. She recommends beginning the journey with the following resources:
- A Rocha’s blog. A Rocha is a Christian charity that equips Christians to care for the environment.
- Chapter 4 of John Stott’s The Radical Disciple
- Prarthini has also written a book which shares stories of creation care in the context of Malaysia and Singapore.
As students pursue more information, Dennis emphasizes that they look for perspectives from their own context. He suggests that students find local articles on sustainable living rather than following advice from other countries which may not be as applicable.
Perfection is Impossible
As you begin your own creation care journey, Rebecca and Dennis want you to know that perfection is impossible.
“We don’t try to save the world,” Rebecca says, “but we have hope for Christ and the new creation. That is our hope. It brings comfort. Because the things of this world will decay.”
Rather than adding to a Christian to-do list, the students hope that sharing about creation care will inspire a paradigm shift in others. She says it’s not about making perfect decisions.
“It is about being mindful of our day-to-day lifestyle choices and what should motivate that. Ultimately, we want to think less of ourselves and more of others.”
What can you do to develop a sense of wonder for God’s creation in your own context? What are small ways that you can change your habits to care for others by caring for creation?