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The Climate Report - Tearfund's landmark research on climate, young Christians and the Church.

A vision for all: a Bible study

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In association with: Tearfund UK
Estele with her husband, Amoz and their two children.

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Jane Boswell

Explore with your small group how you and your church can be a part of caring for God’s creation.

We’ve created this Bible study for small groups to help you explore how we can care for God’s creation, including our global neighbours. It includes a real-life story of transformation, group questions for discussion, a creative activity, prayer points and suggested further resources. We hope it encourages and inspires you.

The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters...

Psalm 24:1-2

What a vision! The whole world with all of its beauty, wonder and mystery has been intricately designed and is deeply loved by our amazing God. God claims the whole of creation – including us – as his own, and longs for every part of it to flourish.

An inspiring vision, but also a sobering reminder that we have so often failed to take care of the world God adores. This has led to wider creation – including people made in God’s image – suffering.

The climate crisis is a stark reminder of a world pushed to breaking point. It’s hitting people living in poverty the hardest – those who have done the least to cause it. People like Estele from Malawi. Estele has been the chief of her village for ten years and is seeing first-hand the devastating impact of the climate crisis.

Estele’s story

Estele’s community relies heavily on growing maize for food and income. But the climate crisis has led to more erratic weather patterns. There are now frequent floods and droughts that bring disease and mean their crops fail again and again. Hunger is a common struggle.

Deforestation adds to the problem, as it decreases the quality of the soil and makes rivers more prone to breaking their banks. This means villagers have to deal with crops being washed away, as well damage to their homes.

‘When your people are struggling with hunger you are not happy because you can't develop your village when people have no food,’ says Estele. ‘Children don't go to school because they don't have enough food. It's so challenging.’

Things began to change when a Tearfund partner came to the village and taught the community a new farming method known as ‘conservation agriculture’, as well as how to make organic fertiliser.

The results were impressive. Estele went from harvesting 15 bags of maize a year to harvesting 70. ‘Now people have enough,’ Estele says. ‘And they have extra for sale because we have surplus food.’

Villagers were also taught how to plant and raise seedlings to overcome the problem of deforestation, and now trees are growing all around the village.

‘Trees are very important,’ says Estele. ‘[They] will prevent soil erosion so you don't lose your soil. But besides that, when you are also in the environment where there are more trees, even where there are heavy storms, you don't feel the impact as you would when there are less trees. So it's very, very important to take care of creation.’

Estele with her husband, Amoz and their two children.
Estele with her husband, Amoz and their two children. Their lives have been transformed by training given by a Tearfund partner | Photo Credit: Alex Baker/Tearfund

Read Genesis 2:15 and Micah 6:8

‘The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.’ (Genesis 2:15)

‘And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’ (Micah 6:8)

Questions for group discussion:

Estele says it’s important we take care of creation.

  1. What does caring for creation mean to you?
  2. Is this an issue that you pray for or take action on?
  3. What are some of the ways we as humans are not caring for God’s creation?

‘Climate change is not only an environmental issue. Climate change is a poverty issue. It’s a hunger issue. It’s an issue of inequality and injustice. It’s a human issue.’ – Katharine Hayhoe, Christian climate scientist.

  1. Does Estele’s story and this quote change how you view the issue of climate change?
  2. What are some of the reasons why it should be considered a justice issue?

The church has a vital role in tackling climate change through prayer, speaking up and encouraging its members to live differently.

  1. Can you think of ways to encourage your church to get even more involved in this issue?
  2. Who could you speak to this week to begin exploring how your church could respond?

As we contemplate the scale of the climate crisis, it’s important we keep our eyes fixed on the God of justice.

  1. How could you include praying about poverty and the climate crisis in your prayer life?
  2. How could you encourage your church to pray about this issue?

Creative activity

  • Re-read Psalm 24:1-2, or read it in a different translation. Rewrite the passage in your own words, and spend time thanking God for the beauty of his creation. Perhaps read the passage as a blessing over a particular country.
  • Re-read Estele’s story. Imagine being in her shoes, or those of others who are still struggling. Write down your own prayers for those families and communities whose homes and jobs are being impacted by climate-related disasters.

Prayer points

  • Thank God for the way he has worked in communities such as Estele’s. Pray for the many people and communities still suffering because of the climate crisis.
  • Pray for world leaders to make decisions centred on the poorest and most vulnerable

This article was originally published in www.tearfund.org and is republished here with permission.