Friday, March 4, 2016

Devotional for Fourth Sunday of Lent

Fourth Sunday of Lent
by Dan Turk

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:18-19, ESV)

Christ calls us to a ministry of reconciliation that includes the ministry of reconciling people and creation. Madagascar is in great need of this reconciliation. It is home to over 100 species of lemurs, 30 species of tenrecs, 200 species of palms, and myriads of other plants and animals, most of which are found naturally only on Madagascar. Madagascar is also home to about 24 million people with the population doubling about every 25 years.

Madagascar is heading down a path toward environmental catastrophe with extensive human misery and mass extinctions. Over 80% of the people live in extreme poverty. Almost 50% of children are stunted from chronic malnutrition, one of the highest rates in the world.  Deforestation is proceeding at a rapid pace, mainly due to slash-and-burn agriculture, fires, and cutting trees for forest products. Astronaut John Grunsfeld, who went to space five times, remarked in 2010, “Looking down on Madagascar, I have watched what little forest there was shrink to several tiny reserves.”

Taking its motivation from Genesis 2:15, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it,” the Fiangonan’i Jesoa Kristy eto Madagasikara (FJKM), PC(USA)’s partner church in Madagascar, recognizes the responsibility humans have for preserving God’s creation. The FJKM is working to reconcile the great needs of the people for food security and the need to protect Madagascar’s biodiversity.

FKJM Youth
PC(USA) is partnering with the FJKM in many of its efforts. The FJKM is teaching new pastors gardening and fruit growing skills. With help from PC(USA), native trees have been planted at churches and schools to promote environmental awareness. The FJKM also contributes to watchdog efforts to protect the country’s natural resources from unscrupulous exploitation. By working in partnership, PC(USA) is helping the FJKM have an even greater impact. 

Prayer: O God, thank you for the FJKM’s commitment to preserve your creation. We pray for the FJKM’s efforts and other efforts to protect Madagascar’s endangered plants and animals.  Please help the church and other organizations find ways for the people of Madagascar to get out of poverty and live more in harmony with your creation. Please help us to do what we can. Amen.

Dan Turk is a PC(USA) mission co-worker serving in Madagascar since 1997.  His work involves planting native trees and shrubs at churches and schools, as well as helping seminary students grow fruits and vegetables.  Pictured here with a ‘Valencia Pride’ mango tree, one of many varieties PC(USA) helped bring to Madagascar.

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