Humanity is facing an unprecedented challenge of climate change which is largely attributed to man’s failure to adequately maintain the relationship that God desired for man and the natural environment from the creation of the universe. Human actions and inactions have negatively impacted the ecosystem leading to poverty, inequality and climate change. Thus, man’s failure to act quickly is capable of consuming the entire human race. These were the issues that dominated discussions at a 2-day Climate Justice Conference in Jos, Plateau State, reports Ralph Madugu
Organized as part of the renew our world campaign in Nigeria and geared towards supporting churches, institutions and communities to act and pray for climate change, the conference brought together participants from faith-based Non-Governmental Organizations, pastors across denominations, students from theological institutions and the media.
Held at the Jos Business School and organized by Tearfund Nigeria in conjunction with Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN), RURCON, ACET Nigeria and CRUDAN, the conference was also geared towards attitudinal change by taking actions that would make the environment a better place.
In his welcome remarks, Country Director, Tearfund Nigeria, represented by the Tearfund Program Manager, Godwin Nimyel, said the conference is strategic to Tearfund as the world is confronted by issues bordering on climate change and because Tearfund believes in the importance of awareness creation on the need for man to live in harmony with the environment.
He added that there is the need to address the relationship between God, man and the environment.
“The way we relate with the environment is not the way God desires. The desire of Tearfund is for an attitudinal change by taking action that would make the environment a better place.”
In a slide presentation on “The Bible and Climate justice. Same Storm Different Boat,” Tearfund Advocacy Manager, Ben Osawe, said there were so much conversations in the Church today but there no connection between faith and the environment.
Said he: “Currently we are facing a storm that has been gathering overtime and that storm is climate change.
“The Church is an agency that is expected to bring about change in the economy and climate change.”
He explained that the world is facing ten global risks by severity seven of which are tied to climate change.
He stated that the storm of climate change has been gathering as a result of which the world is currently at a turning point and the church is the best to build the kind of environment that defines the present and shapes the future as far as conversation around climate justice is concerned.
According to Osawe, the Bible enables Christians to understand the roots of the current environmental crisis, adding that the dangers associated with climate change cannot be prayed away, hence the need for prayer and action by all and sundry to confront the problem.
In another presentation on “The Climate Crisis: When the River Runs Dry,” Pastor Fwangmun Oscar Danladi of the Jos Green Centre said the crises associated with climate change are real and manifested by the long term shifts in temperature and weather patterns.
He explained that global temperatures have increased astronomically from the 1860s to the year 2000, adding that the global technological successes were in the midst of looming crises as a result of deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
During the 2-day conference, participants broke out into specific groups with different sessions focusing on questions bordering on the understanding of stewardship of the environment from a Biblical perspective, Biblical scenarios and persons who portrayed good stewardship of the environment, among other issues relating to climate change.
During the breakout sessions, participants attempted to answer questions such as why should Christians care and should the issue of climate change be a priority; what is the relationship between the climate crisis and the Gospel, are earthquakes and floods signs of the end times and should Christians just fold their hands and what single action or actions regarding response to climate change can Christians be doing and encouraging the Church and other faith based organizations to do among others.
Participants also took time to identify happenings in their communities in relation to climate change and how people’s lives are being affected and how communities are responding to these challenges.
Chiwueze Daniel Victor, Elsie June Adum and Rev. Fr. Godfrey Bunka Gopep, who were among the participants, acknowledged that climate change is posing unprecedented danger to environmental sustainability and man’s existence, hence the need to action quickly to tackle the danger that looms.
They promised to not only put the knowledge acquired into practice but step it down to others in their various churches to engender a harmonious relationship between God, man and the environment.