Praying for the Amazon
The Amazon is burning. Tens of thousands of fires, many deliberately started, are destroying the Amazon rainforest. BMS World Mission environmental scientist Laura-Lee Lovering, based in the Peruvian Amazon, explains why this rainforest matters
It’s hard to believe the Amazon is on fire. I’ve seen the news and heard the reports that the jungle is burning, and I look outside and see nothing but greenery and blue skies.
When I came to the Peruvian Amazon, I knew I was going to have to work to contextualise my ideas about creation stewardship. The only thing people knew about carbon was carbón, the solid fuel that is created when wood is slowly burned in a heap covered with soil – charcoal to us. Talking about carbon footprints and CO2 was not going to work. Even the concept of creation stewardship drew either blank stares or dismissive comments – it’s all very well for environmentalists to talk about saving the trees, fishes and animals, but what about the humans living in their midst?
The biodiversity here can sometimes be presented as something to attract tourists, excite ecologists or inspire pharmacologists. What I’ve learnt over the years is that what we call biodiversity is the grandest shopping mall for the residents of the jungle. Are you hungry? Go to the jungle. Do you need fuel? Go to the jungle. Do you need to make a bed, build a boat, construct a house? Go to the jungle. Do you need medicine? Go. To. The. Jungle. The outside world is useful for providing tools, but all the raw materials that those tools serve are provided by the jungle.
Usually, we humans fail to value a thing when we can’t see what purpose it serves. Perhaps we fail to conserve a thing when we do not give it a worthy and accurate value. The Amazon rainforest and the knowledge and ingenuity of the people who inhabit it is a luminous example to the industrialised nations, and God forbid that that knowledge and ingenuity, or that rainforest, be devalued and lost. The Amazon should remind us of the diversity of natural resources with which the Lord has blessed even us, and it should inspire us to re-value these resources, even as we re-evaluate our way of living.
I’m not much for writing ‘love letters’ as such, but this is my version of one for the Amazon.
BMS World Mission have begun several creation stewardship projects, such as using solar panels to power a BMS-supported hospital in Chad and teaching sustainable jungle agriculture in the Amazon itself, and have recently published their Creation Stewardship policy, which goes into more detail about our commitment to protecting the environment. They've written a prayer of lament for the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous people who live there, which you are encouraged you to read and share.
We know that we need to do better to protect our planet. We are called to be stewards of creation, and yet the Amazon is still burning. We all need to do better.
As the fires in the Amazon continue to burn, please continue to pray:
Pray for Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil. Pray that he might be wise and compassionate when tackling these fires, and that he would enforce necessary policies against deforestation in the Amazon rainforest.
Pray for indigenous communities being affected by the fires. Pray that people will stay safe, and that they will find comfort in God in the face of extreme loss.
Pray for world leaders and international communities to come together and seek the most effective solutions to protect the Amazon for future generations.
Pray for BMS worker Laura-Lee Lovering, working in the Amazon region of Peru. Pray that she will use her passion for creation stewardship to teach others how to care for the world they live in.
Pray for BMS World Mission as they commit to doing as much as they can to protect our environment.
This story was originally published on the BMS World Mission website and is used with permission.