By Jeff Lee
We work toward sustainability.
Sustainability is defined by the current generation’s ability to meet their physical needs while at the same time not diminishing future generations’ ability to meet their physical needs. We are living in a time of ecological crisis that must be addressed to ensure sustainability for future generations.
The ecological crisis seems to be a problem that is too large for us to tackle. The task ahead is daunting, but there is hope for the future. The crisis is a global and local problem and requires global and local solutions. We can work for local solutions. If every community creates local solutions to the environmental issues they face, then we can make a difference around the world.
My family and I live and work in the Republic of North Macedonia, and have been living here for almost 7 years. We have been struck by the beauty of the people and God’s creation here. There are mountains, rivers, canyons, waterfalls, forests, animals, birds—the list goes on. It is my responsibility to protect those cherished parts of God’s masterpiece.
Along with animals and plants, God has created all of humanity in God’s image. When we look in the face of another person, we look into the face of God. Because of that, I have a responsibility to meet their needs sustainably.
One way we do that here in Macedonia is through a Cow Bank that provides livestock for local farmers and pastors to help them meet their physical needs. We do sustainable work. We teach farmers better ways to raise their livestock to limit their impact on the environment. We have solar panels on our farm to reduce our carbon footprint.
We work with the Food Bank of Macedonia to help feed the most desperate in communities around the country. Our work is justice work—environmental justice, food justice, water justice—we see the beauty of God’s creation and work to protect all of it for this generation and many generations to come. We work toward justice because God calls us to do so: “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” Amos 5:24 (NRSV). The prophet Amos uses water as a symbol of justice because of the power that is within the water. We have that same power ingrained in us from being created in the image of God.
Because we are created in the image of God, we are created with the same creative instinct. We also have to remember that the act of creation is not finished, and God is still creating, and it is our responsibility to join with God in creating.
The prophet Amos speaks about the importance of justice and righteousness because the people had forgotten what they were, and who they were, as beings created in the image of God. In the first few chapters of Amos, the prophet is calling out the sins of the nations because they forgot their purpose. Those words ring true today.
Thus, says the Lord:
For three transgressions of humanity,
and for four I will not revoke the punishment;
for you have neglected my Earth.
You have destroyed the green spaces.
You trampled on the heads of the animals and insects.
You have polluted the rivers and lakes with toxins.
You choke the air, and the poor suffers.
Your greed takes food from the poor and replaces it with the disease.
The transgressors will stand before the Creator and
Account for their acts of injustice and oppression.
God calls creation good seven times in Genesis, with the last one very good. When we treat the Earth in any way other than what God intends, we conflict with the creative act of God in this world.
Jeff Lee and his wife, Alicia, are CBF field personnel serving in Macedonia through Cow Banking, community development and partnership initiatives. Learn more about and support their work at www.cbf.net/lee.
Watch a video story about Cow Banking in Macedonia and the Lees’ ministry below:
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