Planting Hope in the Wilderness of Our Hearts

EMQ » April–June 2023 » Volume 59 Issue 2

Singapore: During a Green Urban Youth Forum, students presented a short play, written by a Chinese playwright Kuo Paokun, that featured a performer dressed as a tree that looked very similar to a crucifix. Photo by Lawrence Ko. Courtesy of AJ.

Summary: Being fully human comes with a mission to care for creation as God originally intended. Asian Journeys Ltd is a social enterprise that engages young people in Asia in environmental mission and creation care projects. Young people learn the compassion of the good Samaritan and the strategies from the parable of the sower. They become caring empathic volunteers equipped to help communities directly impacted by environmental degradation.

By Lawrence Ko

In 1998, I attended a Southeast Asia regional environmental seminar in Yangon, Myanmar. I encountered the urban poor in the new village of Laing Thyar, and learnt how my regional counterparts addressed challenging environmental issues with simple yet bold solutions.

A Cambodian delegate shared about a campaign initiated by Buddhist monks to give people in rural areas saplings to plant. The communities happily obliged. The actions of these Buddhist monks spoke louder than words, and their example enlarged my view of what Christian missions could look like.

Asians emphasize harmonious relationships in the universe, but true harmony is only found when we seek transcendence. Chinese culture recognizes that people must be reconciled with God (Heaven), then with themselves, and then with other selves (including nature). We affirm this in our biblical tradition which includes the Buberian I-Thou relations.[1] This means we relate with others respectfully as subjects rather than as objects.

NT Wright reminds us that being fully and gloriously human comes with a mission to care for creation as God originally intended.[2] When people participate in caring for God’s earth, a nurturing community develops that enables them to relate with other human beings, other created living things, and the non-living parts of our world with respect and care.

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