After our time on the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, our Sports DTS team traveled back down the coast to serve at Tahlee Ministries, a beautiful property just north of Newcastle. Tahlee has a rich spiritual history with Christians paving the way in this place since early Australian colonisation and has operated as a Bible College for many years. My team had the opportunity to spend a week serving during a conference; cooking meals, cleaning, sitting in on teaching, and having fun in the beach pool during our time off.
Christians gathered for this conference from many different countries to hear about how the message of the Gospel encompasses caring for the environment and how they can start caring for the environment in their own communities. We were able to listen in on the morning talks which focused on different parts of the natural environment including oceans, land, forests and cities.
It was interesting for me to hear about caring for God’s creation being talked and prayed about so passionately as I feel this passion lacking in my own life.
It got me thinking: I enjoy so many absolutely beautiful pieces of God’s natural creation, made with so much care and detail, and I connect with God through it. One of the few memories I have from my childhood is from when my family went on a holiday to New Caledonia. During our time in the islands we visited a beautiful coral reef and went snorkelling.
I was an 8 year old boy, swimming and diving among the bright blue, purple and yellow fish and admiring the colourful corals – colours that I’d never seen before in the ocean!
I love the story my mum tells about how someone in the group called out that he’d found a sea snake and all the girls rushed away, but all the boys rushed in for a closer look. To think that the Great Barrier Reef could possibly be just a grey mess right now because of pollution and lack of care is really sad!
We had the great privilege that week of checking out a shark and ray centre in Port Stephens where they raise awareness for the endangerment of our oceans, reefs and animals – particularly sharks. Patting sharks and sting rays is not a normal way to experience these animals, but it was amazing to see such beautiful and impressive animals up close. It inspired me further to care about the natural world.
I wondered, “How much do I care for God’s creation? Am I stewarding and nurturing it so that it continues to proclaim God’s glory to all people.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ve done a great job as a society or even as the church in taking care of the natural environment and it gets more polluted and exploited every day with plastics, chemical pollution, deforestation, killing of beautiful species for meat, etc.
It makes a lot more sense to me now as to why we can’t just ignore the need to care for the environment. We need to not have a culture of using heaps of disposable plastic and not recycling. What if we even go a step further and look at how to care more for a natural environment in our area; obeying the mandate we were given to care for God’s creation, including people, animals, land and sea – to show the love of Jesus by a full and whole-hearted view of God’s world and His children.
by Ben Wirth
YWAM Sports DTS student