If you have had the chance to visit Congo, or even see photos, you might agree with Dr. Margaret Mwenda, who said in her 2015 UCBC graduation commencement address, “When God created the world, He must have started with Congo!”
Everything in Congo is so lush and green; the land seems to be overflowing with vegetation, including the second largest rainforest in the world. And below the surface are some of the most highly concentrated mineral deposits in the world. And yet. . .
- Greed for the country’s natural resources has fueled decades-long strife.
- Endemic poverty perpetuates destructive practices such as subsistence farming and over-hunting in the basic struggles for food, fuel, and shelter.
- Trees are indiscriminately hacked for fuel or building material, destroying vegetation, animal life, and watercourses. Slash and burn clearing and single-crop agriculture further depletes the land.
In this context, UCBC students have claimed the care of creation as a top priority in transforming their nation.
In May, eight of our students and staff traveled to Nairobi, Kenya to attend the Lausanne Creation Care Network Regional Conference for East and Central Africa. The conference theme was ‘’Creation Care and the Gospel,” and UCBC’s participation was made possible by a grant from a partner foundation.
Their attendance at the conference provided a context for learning and for forming new connections with community, educational, church, and NGO leaders from Congo and East Africa more broadly. UCBC staff member Sifa Jolie noted the way that people from the conference had hope for environmental protection in their context. She was encouraged that environmental issues are being addressed through creative problem solving.
One direct result of this event is that UCBC students are now actively contributing to a national plan to increase awareness about Creation Care and to work with local communities to develop contextualized solutions.
At the end of the conference, delegates from South Sudan and Uganda publicly apologized to the Congolese delegation for the ways that their countries have been involved in illegal forestry in Congo, and they recognized the need to combat this activity from within their own countries. After the week in Nairobi, the team traveled to Malindi on the coast of Kenya to visit the work of A Rocha Kenya. There, they were able to see intentional environmental stewardship in practice. Back at UCBC, the delegates have already begun to share their knowledge.