by Rev. Mitch Hescox
Being at the Gulf Shore, what’s missing are the people. In the height of the summer, the sound of children is absent, they aren't playing in the waves or building sandcastles, what remains on the beach is the residue of crude oil. From a distance, the beach looks wonderful, but when you walk the beach an oily film coats your feet and pea size tar balls are very common. Although much of the oil has been either removed or buried by tons of new sand, frothy brown foam still stains the beach. This weekend we have much to be thankful for as the BP Cap appears to be holding, but for the hotels and restaurants the future remains dim as June’s business was down 50%, and the July/August estimates appear closer to 70%.
This economic down turn doesn’t just affect business or property owners, but affects those on the bottom of the pay scale. Just this week, a local pastor received a phone call from a frantic woman, desperately seeking a place to store her furniture as she had been evicted after losing her job. Just an hour later, while a colleague, Dr. Randy Brinson, Christian Coalition of Alabama, was recording an interview with Fox News, a young woman came up to us seeking help because she has no food, no job, and not a whole lot of hope. Right on the beach, we prayed for the woman and invited her to go the local church tomorrow, to receive a gift of food. Many at least for now will benefit from the BP clean up jobs, but others are falling through the cracks of this environmental disaster.
Real people, everyday people, will continue to be ravaged in the aftermath of Deep Water Horizon. We realize that the oil spew may be ending, but the affects will last for decades. Today is a beginning, a new day in prayer, thanksgiving and hope for this human caused disaster. The beginning starts where it should start by seeking God in prayer in the National Day of Prayer for the Gulf. This day focuses on how, we the American church, came together with God’s children in the Gulf and His creation that is desperately groaning.
The Church has been wondering what it can do. First, if you have a vacation planned for the Gulf, please come. We encourage you to have a sacrificial vacation in the Gulf to support your brothers and sisters –they need you.
Second, today we announce on the National Day of Prayer for The Gulf The 100,0002 Initiative. Our goal is to connect 100,000 churches and with 100,000 hurting Gulf families. Plans will be announced shortly on the mechanism being established to connect congregations with those in need. But for today and tomorrow it begins where it should begin, putting The 100,0002 Initiative, and the entire Gulf population before the Lord.
People who can, should still come to the Gulf Shore.
By Rev. Mitch Hescox and Alexei Laushkin
The Deep Water Horizon oil spill represents one of the largest environmental disasters in American history. We are thrilled and thank the Lord for what seems to be some positive recent developments for the oil spill. We will need to wait over the weekend to see what this ultimately means for the full containment of the spill. One thing remains clear, the disaster show cases both our God given human ingenuity and limitations. We have shut down an area of the coast line roughly the size of Kansas, over 81,000 sq mi, to contain one of the largest man made oil spills on record. We cannot forget that this crisis doesn’t end with a plugged well, but will affect the Gulf’s inhabitants for years if not decades. As in all crises the Gulf Oil Spill will fade from public view, but not from the lives of those impacted.
Given the size of the spill scientists and health experts have no immediate way to calculate the long term impacts or the years of havoc on the people, animals, water, and land, but they will be severe and enduring. One thing is certain the lives of those who depend on the Gulf will be changed. Shrimping and oyster waters will be reduced, commercial fishing boats will devalue, which will force some into bankruptcy; and for many a way of life will be lost, in some cases forever.
The spill in the Gulf is a vivid reminder that God has given humanity responsibility for caring over His creation, including the seas and sea life, the wetlands and the waterfowl. We were created in the image of God to be his image bearers; representatives of His reign to all that he made. We were made in God's image to reflect how He would care for His creation. That reflection became dimmed as sin entered the world and all creation suffers as a result.
Our hopes for humanity and the restoration of all creation does not exist in a new well head, but the freedom and restoration offered in Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ died and rose that all God’s children and all creation might attain true freedom in Him. A creation regained not by our will but by the will of the Father in the fullness of time.
In the present we must consider what being the people of God means in the context of our stewardship of the world that God made. In short we must care for creation. Rather than simply being a stain on our stewardship, we must let the Gulf spill be the impetus that propels us to better works; our Holy Scripture tells that we were redeemed for such a purpose. If the terrible impacts of the oily water on communities and wildlife have made one thing clear, it is that we must do a much better job of being God's stewards, of protecting His creation and the livelihoods of those who depend upon it while we all benefit from its resources.
We were created to love God and others as summarized by Jesus in the Great Commandment. Creation care is done to honor the Lord our God and to care for our neighbor. Those environmental impacts that have an overt human impact merit the church’s attention. Many of the problems in the world today have some connection to the brokenness that humanity lives in apart from God. Separation from God, self, neighbor, and creation, only with God is full restoration possible.
That is why on Sunday July 18, 2010 the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN) are calling for a National Day of Prayer for the people of the Gulf, for God's creation in the gulf, and for the Lord's intervention and deliverance. We believe that the transformative power of prayer extends beyond our human limitations.
We invite you and your church or house of worship to join us in this show of faith and solidarity with our neighbors in the Gulf.
Whether your church chooses to participate by saying a single prayer or centering an entire service on this challenge to our stewardship of creation to learn more about the National Day of Prayer visit http://creationcare.org.