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Conservation and Hope at the Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering

Ben Lowe

This piece was originally published on the A Rocha International Planetwise blog on August 31st, 2016.

This August, over 1,000 young Christian delegates from more than 140 countries convened outside Jakarta, Indonesia, for the 2016 Lausanne Younger Leaders Gathering (YLG). My colleague Rachel Lamb and I were there representing Young Evangelicals for Climate Action along with the broader creation care community we’re part of, including A Rocha and the Au Sable Institute.

A once-in-a-generation event, the theme of this YLG was ‘United in the Great Story’, and the program built on the rich heritage of the Lausanne Movement with its stated vision of ‘the whole church, bringing the whole gospel, to the whole world.’ This included an intentional focus on the role of creation care in integral mission today. As Lausanne articulated in its seminal statement arising from the Third Congress on World Evangelization in 2010, The Cape Town Commitment:

‘The Bible declares God’s redemptive purpose for creation itself. Integral mission means discerning, proclaiming, and living out the biblical truth that the gospel is God’s good news, through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, for individual persons, and for society, and for creation. All three are broken and suffering because of sin; all three are included in the redeeming love and mission of God; all three must be part of the comprehensive mission of God’s people.’ (Part 1, Section 7).

In Jakarta, this commitment was further strengthened by a younger generation of leaders who engaged with creation care themes through worship, bible exposition, drama presentations, workshops, and a keynote address given by Marina Silva, a friend of A Rocha and former Senator and Minister of the Environment from Brazil.

A Rocha was well represented and it was great to hear from folks across our international family, including staff, trustees, and numerous friends who have been involved with or blessed by A Rocha in various ways and places. Here are some of their reflections:

‘From the beginning God created us in His own image and commanded us to rule over his creation; such great power in our hands that comes with great responsibility. Personally, I will take this responsibility to the next level by initiating a creation care learning community for children where I live in Sumatra, Indonesia. Having yet another generation to care for creation is a breath of fresh air for my country and also the world. It’s a long, long way to go, but being at YLG I know that I always have God and his global church backing me up!’ – Christine Kaharmen, Delegate from Indonesia

‘The reaction received during the YLG, especially after Marina Silva’s presentation on creation care, confirmed to me that I am doing important work for the Lord that must continue. Prior to this, whenever I introduced myself to people and told them what I do I could almost sense their bewilderment – very few understood the concept of creation care. In Africa, with issues of hunger and poverty, the connection between our livelihood/existence and the state of the earth is often not clearly identified. As such, we – people and the earth – both suffer. Creation care is so important especially when we understand that our existence is based on it. The beauty of the world is astounding – just look around! Why would I not want to do everything and anything I could to protect it? He who I love more than anything else gave it to me as a gift, and the least I can do is to honor and protect this gift and encourage others to do the same.’ – Talitha Takura Pam, Coordinator of Eden Creation Care Initiative, an A Rocha Associated Project in Nigeria

‘YLG 2016 was a life-impacting gathering which I am honored to be part of … My heart is full of expectation of what God will do in the years to come.’ – Rodolpho Simas, Chair of A Rocha Brazil

‘One of the encouraging things was to witness over 1,000 leaders under the age of 35 from every continent, in sober reflection on the state of the world, connecting with each other, and making a fresh, passionate commitment to global mission.’ – Las Newman, Lausanne Associate Director

‘This new generation shows an appreciation for this task and its importance that we don’t usually see in their elders … We look forward to this continuing through YLGen, Lausanne’s 10 year follow-up program, and we’re already working to that end.’ – Ed Brown, Lausanne Creation Care Catalyst

L-R in back: Las Newman, Ed Brown, Carlos Vicente, Rodolpho Simas, Ben Lowe; L-R in front: Christine Kaharmen, Karen Yan, Talitha Takura Pam (behind Karen), Andrea Ramos Santos, Rachel Lamb

L-R in back: Las Newman, Ed Brown, Carlos Vicente, Rodolpho Simas, Ben Lowe; L-R in front: Christine Kaharmen, Karen Yan, Talitha Takura Pam (behind Karen), Andrea Ramos Santos, Rachel Lamb

I, too, am deeply grateful for my time at the gathering. I’m moving on from almost a decade of full-time creation care activism and advocacy into graduate studies in tropical conservation and development at the University of Florida. To be honest, I was unsure about whether participating in another conference (and a 7-day one at that!) was a good use of limited time. It was.

Personally, God used YLG to help launch me into this new season of life, re-centered on Christ, refocused on God’s story, and reconnected in the global body.

Collectively, God used YLG to renew and unite us as leaders in the great and global story of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that we all get to be part of together. It was a rich and transformative time − precious relationships were formed, powerful ideas were discussed, and prayerful commitments were made − but only time will truly show the fruit of all the seeds sown.

For now, I’m grateful for Lausanne’s significant and deepening focus on creation care in the Church around the world. And I am filled with hope that God will continue to use the Lausanne Movement, and all who were at YLG, to share and show his great redemptive love to the very ends of the good but groaning earth.