One Mission – Climate change

“The house! There’s two feet of water in it!”

Some readers may remember from personal involvement the floods of Toll Bar (July 2007) the ramifications of which lasted over a year until restoration.  Just imagine if the sea came up every day, and high tide receded leaving mud and the garden saturated in salt-water… every day.

“The island is disappearing under the waves!”  The houses, whole villages, in the Pacific islands could not just be cleaned up. They have had to be moved. Harvests ruined, markets and prices affected, and relocation all impact the culture. Improvements maybe there in new model villages; electricity might be provided but that meant family time was eroded since the 2 TVs in the village attracted all the children in the evening. Family devotions were not so much the priority and norm that they had been. Even so the families largely belong to the churches, particularly the Methodist churches in Fiji’s 300 islands. They find their way through life with prayer and fasting. In the big Methodist Church of Suva, the capital, the president and Prime minister attend church. So does Dr Julia Edwards. She is a Mission Partner with the British Methodists for Fiji and the Pacific Conference of Churches as a climatologist came to Doncaster on her itinerary around Britain 12 February, she spoke at Priory Place Methodist and then in the afternoon gave more details speaking at Sprotborough Park.

So why the floods? The sea levels are rising. The winds in cyclone seasons are far more intense than ever before -reaching the highest at level 5, with winds at 200 miles an hour! Houses were flattened, roofs ripped off -and that was only a year ago. Some folks in Doncaster can sympathise about not getting back into a house but these Fijians are still in canvas -and it does rain heavily in the ‘paradise islands’!

What can we do about it? The seas are rising due to climate change globally. Who is responsible?  Surely climate has changed for centuries? Yes but not quite at the rate of change that is happening now. Julia gave us some figures but you would need the context and comparisons to understand and there is insufficient space here for that. However, we can do somethings here for the sake of world climate which has so many ramifications- especially on migration and relocation of potentially 100s of even millions across the World (SubSaharan Sahel and its drought, not just for reasons of war). We can use ‘Green energy’ sources- switch your providers to one of the Green companies for electricity. Obviously fossil fuels need to be reduced, and pressure on governments is needed to stop their use -including fracking. Care for our neighbour -who happens to live 12000 miles away- is still in our remit of the Good News of Jesus. Justice is the outworking of the God who we claim is both righteous and merciful. What does this mean to us? “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?2 (Micah 6:8)

Our family members in Fiji -in our Global Connexion – need our support on these issues. They need our prayer support. They need to know they are not forgotten. Sending Julia to be with them to research the issues, the implications and train the islanders to pre-empt the worst of the consequences of climate change is only due to us and our British Connexion providing support for her. She has gained ‘considerable expertise’ over the past 6 years and has a voice in key international conferences that governments deal with over these issues. She will be returning to the South Pacific possibly to assist other island groups in the same issues. Funding and prayer are obvious needs for any mission. We can help multiply her impact.

Sources of information:

The Methodist Website:  http://www.methodist.org.uk/juliaedwards for a number of articles Julia has written.

The Pacific Conference of Churches, http://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches/pacific/pcc

Julia B Edwards, ‘The Logistics of Climate-Induced Resettlement: Lessons from the Carteret Islands, Papua New Guinea’, Refugee Survey Quarterly, Vol. 32.3 (Sept 2013) Abstract in  https://academic.oup.com/rsq/article-abstract/32/3/52/1525758/The-Logistics-of-Climate-Induced-Resettlement