Unlikely Acts of Worship (Plant With Purpose)
Unlikely Acts of Worship -- Glorifying God Through Creation Care
Repost shared by Plant With Purpose
A question we often ask partnering farmers is how their relationship with God has changed since Plant With Purpose began working with their communities. A common reply is, “We are now planting trees.” In my American mindset, I dismissed these responses, thinking that somewhere along the line, something must have been lost in translation. Tree planting is an environmental activity, not something that reflects a maturing relationship with the Lord.
But upon traveling to Tanzania and speaking to our partnering farmers first hand, it began to make sense. To Plant With Purpose's partnering farmers, the act of planting trees is an act of worship. It is an outward expression of their faith, a way in which they are honoring God and walking in obedience.
We could base this tree-planting theology on Paul’s writing in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” However, we see from Genesis to Revelation, the Scriptures talking about creation and offering insights into God’s relationship with the physical works of his hands. God puts Adam in the garden and tells him to tend and keep the land. The songs in Psalms offer perspective on how the trees and the hills praise the Lord while the heavens declare the glory of the Lord. And in Revelation, John closes with the new heaven coming down to earth, and the Tree of Life being central in the coming kingdom.
Plant With Purpose participants across the seven international programs understand this insight. God created the earth. He cares about creation. We were given the responsibility to steward it. So of course, planting trees is an act of worship.
In Tanzania, Isaya Mongowi is one of these tree-planting evangelists and he is taking on the task of reforesting Mt. Kilimanjaro. Isaya shares, “I used to be the poorest of the poor.” Before partnering with Plant With Purpose, his property resembled a desert. The land took the brunt of years of deforestation and poor soil management. Isaya began implementing the sustainable agriculture techniques he learned from Plant With Purpose. This included planting trees. These trees added nutrients to the soil, while protecting the soil from harsh rain. Today he shares, “We have seen many changes to the environment. My land now looks like a forested garden. We get everything we need from our property including corn, sweet potatoes, bananas, and eggs.”
“We’re taught that God created the earth and we are commanded to take care of it. Planting trees is one way we do this,” shares Isaya. His tree nursery holds hundreds of seedlings, which he gives away for free. He calls these seedlings his bible—small objects holding countless lessons and valuable in their worth. Neighbor and friends are drawn to the transformation they see in Isaya’s life and in his land. Isaya instructs them on how to plant trees and even provides environmental education to the children in the local school. Tree planting is now part of the local curriculum to which Isaya declares, “I love this work.” He also clearly loves the Lord.
Plant With Purpose is a Christian development organization that transforms lives in rural areas around the world where poverty and environmental degradation intersect. We equip impoverished farming families to change their circumstances, provide for their children, and live with God-given hope and dignity. We do this through sustainable agriculture training, land restoration, savings-led microfinance, church mobilization, and local leadership development.