U.S. evangelicals' slow warming to creation care raises the question: how concerned are evangelicals in countries considered ground zeros for climate change disasters?
World Evangelical Alliance (WEA)-affiliated umbrella organizations in high-risk countries (as identified by Western environmentalists) have not been as vocal on climate change as their World Council of Churches counterparts. But evangelical bodies in several developing nations are mobilizing members as they prioritize the problem among other issues such as evangelism, persecution, and HIV/AIDS.
"In the West, you hear climate change being described as a threat. In my country, it is not a threat—it is already happening," said David Kamchacha, disaster rescue coordinator for the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM). The Association of Evangelicals in Africa (AEA), to which EAM belongs, says changing weather patterns threaten the sustainability of longstanding rural communities throughout southeast Africa, and local churches are the grassroots organizations that people turn to for help.
Churches in the global South rank climate change low on their list of priorities, said Brian Swarts, national coordinator for Micah Challenge USA.
"There's an awareness of the issue," he said, "but a lot of [churches] don't have the desire or capacity to address it."
One such country is Sri Lanka, where evangelical churches are struggling in the face of persecution and anti-conversion laws.
"There is an ongoing civil war and we have a huge internally displaced population," said Godfrey Yogarajah, general secretary of the National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka. "As we struggle with mere survival physically, climate change is not on our agenda presently."
By contrast, ...