God’s Gardeners: Creation Care Stories from Singapore and Malaysia
What could a Malaysian Christian working in fruit bat conservation have to teach a decidedly non-green-fingered guy in south-east England, I wondered, as I started reading Mary-Ruth Low’s chapter in God’s Gardeners: Creation Care Stories from Singapore and Malaysia.
The answer is, more than you might think. In this book Mary-Ruth shares her experience of working in conservation and how, while humans are commonly seen as the cause of all environmental problems, her work shows they can also be part of the solution, starting by simply paying attention. She offers a few practical suggestions to pay attention to the local places God puts us in. I was intrigued.
Mary-Ruth’s chapter was one of my favourites in this collection of 14 reflections on caring for God’s world from an East Asian perspective. The book begins and ends with theological reflections on God’s concern for his world, leading into short chapters covering his people’s practical responses. From a church building project, to frog-spotting walks; from thinking about food from a Christian perspective, to organising more sustainable Christian conferences. In each chapter, I was inspired by how the diverse authors’ reflections and actions flowed out of their common love for God, their neighbours and God’s world.
Contributors include theologians, church leaders, business people and advocates. David Gould, OMF International Facilitator for Creation Care, brings reflections on missional creation care. Ken Yeong, who wrote about his experience working in conservation in the September 2020 Billions edition, and his wife Shireen Chen, share honestly about their journey in creation care and the need to accept the pruning of the true Gardener in our lives. Many chapters end with helpful action points to consider, giving plenty of food for thought, wherever we live.
Yet, God’s Gardeners is also honest about how much we can do. The editors observe in the preface: ‘This book is not about saving the planet. We can’t.’ Rather, the book shows beautifully how we can cooperate with our loving Creator God as we live in his world. I came away from the book encouraged. Firstly, that ‘the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it’ (Psalm 24:1) and he cares for the places we live in. Secondly, that, green-fingered or not, by caring for our places, we can love our neighbours and show our hope in the One who will make all things new (Revelation 21:5).
How have I taken up Mary-Ruth’s challenge? Following one of her suggestions, I now know where my household refuse goes and why it’s worth separating out my food waste. It’s a small start, but I want to keep reflecting and adapting my outlook and actions to care more for this place God loves.
To buy a copy of God’s Gardeners, contact Reuben (firstname.lastname@example.org 0172 880 321) or visit go.omf.org/gardeners Reuben Grace OMF (UK) Content & Media Coordinator Reuben is the author of OMF (UK)’s new children’s book A Taste of Asia (10ofthose, 2020).