by Alexei Laushkin
In the summer of 2013, I traveled to Malawi as part of a trip organized by the ministry I serve with the Evangelical Environmental Network. Like many Christians who travel overseas for missions, I was changed by the experience.
What made this trip so unique is that I went simply to listen and ask questions. Over the course of 10 days I got to do exactly that.
There’s something very refreshing about getting outside of yourself long enough to orient yourself around the lives of other people. To see, to taste, to sense how another culture lives and another people, equally made in the image of God, strive for fullness of life.
Malawi has long been a center of vibrant Christianity, which was evident in the people we spoke with. I can remember one interview in particular where we delved into the subject of sorrow and loss, a subject that we approach uncomfortably in the west. There were actually two of us interviewing this woman. She said when she was sorrowful she would go to her closest friend and sing the songs they sang in church.
I’ll never forget when that dear woman sang for me, her song of comfort in the midst of loss. I was deeply moved.
In the last year, Malawi has suffered; suffered from horrible floods, floods that overwhelmed our partner in ministry Eagles Relief and Development. You can read more about these floods and how climate plays into the story here and here.
The relief and development community and corresponding donors have a historic opportunity to look at changes to our natural world and what these changes might mean for those who suffer in countries like Malawi. Changes in rainfall patterns, changes in climatic growing zones, changes in extreme weather, all fueled by changes in the climate need to be examined and looked at.
Congress has a historic chance to do something about investing in that sort of smart innovation through the Green Climate Fund. These funds would be used to pilot programs that look at life as it is, not as we might wish it to be, and make smart and sustainable investments. Investments that can be the difference maker in an extreme deluge and help an often underfunded response team know what to do when the weather overwhelms their capacity.
These are worth wild investments and ones that fit with the generous and farsighted nature of America’s approach to the world. We have always known that thinking about the well-being of others leads to our own well-being. What does Malawi have to do with our problems at home? Well, for such a time as this we have been placed and blessed with the capacity to encourage positive and lasting changes for the least of these around the world. If not us, who? When we act on behalf of the orphan, the widow, and the poor we are living into our true nature as a people set apart for better purposes in the world.
Christians at home face a lot of challenges and worrisome signs in the midst of a culture in change, but even at moments like this we can harken to the angels of our better nature and like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son, we can choose to have mercy.
When it comes to the Green Climate Fund let us look towards mercy. Pope Francis is calling the Catholic Church to a year of mercy. May we as a nation live into the first fruits of that mercy and be a part of proactive solutions for the many who are in need.
Alexei Laushkin is the Vice-President of the Evangelical Environmental Network.