This young Christian found he could no longer ignore the reality of climate change, and now he’s committed to talking about it with people around him, and doing everything he can to care for God’s creation.
Until fairly recently, 20-year-old Rohen Snowball didn’t really connect his Christian faith with the idea of care of creation, and didn’t feel motivated to do anything about climate change.
Then he started hearing media reports about the actions of young people around the world and the need for governments to take climate change seriously. At what he calls “breakneck speed”, he started learning about how the planet, and its people, were suffering.
His initial response was a mix of grief and anxiety about the future. Then, on World Environment Day in 2021, he watched a webinar by ecological ethicist and Anglican minister Dr Byron Smith. It motivated him to think about what he could do to create positive change.
“I ignored climate change for a long time,” Rohen says. “Then I did lots of reading and discovered what a huge problem it is, and I became quite overwhelmed by it. But then I got active and found I was able to deal with it a lot better.”
Rohen is now committed to starting conversations about climate change in his church community and with his friends and family.
“As a Christian of the ‘Global North’, I was so unaware and shut off from understanding the unjust realities experienced by developing countries,” Rohen says.
“I think a westernised and individualistic faith in God stopped me from taking action. Recently, I’ve become so convinced that creation care is a part of living out your love for God and your neighbour, and in fact, it is inconsistent with your faith if you cancel out the call to protect God’s handiwork.”
He started reading and researching widely, and connected with youth climate movements. He talked to other young people at church about his growing understanding of the need to steward God’s creation. He also invited them to join him in raising awareness about climate change, and working towards practical changes like making church buildings more sustainable. He spoke to his own family about simple things they could do to reduce their impact on the environment. And throughout COP26 in November 2021, Rohen shared updates on the progress of the talks, as well as prayer points, with others.
“By neglecting our planet, we neglect each other.”
A key part of Rohen’s journey has been the support he’s received from his small group and peers, and the genuine opportunities he’s had to share his commitment to protecting God’s creation.
And the more he reads the Bible and hears it being explained, the more he sees that the concepts of creation care and social justice are found right through the scriptures. “We’ve been entrusted with an Earth to steward, and we’ve been doing the exact opposite,” he says.
He is now considering doing further academic study in environmental management after he finishes his current degree in graphic design.
“God has clearly put a call on his life and we are supporting him in this as much as we can,” says Carolyn Hatfield, one of Rohen’s small group leaders.
Rohen says that it’s been life-changing to start looking at the issue of climate change through a biblical lens, and he urges Christians to “be bold” in encouraging churches to do more about caring for the earth.
“By neglecting our planet, we neglect each other,” he says.