Birds are singing, the grass has taken back it’s usual lush green color and the flowers are in full bloom. Spring-time here in Palestine is gorgeous and savored, as much of the remainder of the year will bring the intense summer sun and heat causing the landscape to turn back to the color of Jerusalem stone yet again. International Mother Earth Day happens to fall within this window of flourishing scenery. As the land remains central to so much of what continues to play itself out in this region, it seemed most timely to share a few initiatives that are advancing a paradigm focused on redeeming the land in a more holistic, life-giving way. A major train of thought that serves as the precondition to these initiatives is the understanding that land is a valuable gift to be stewarded well, and that each one of us has the responsibility to do so.

A few of our staff members here at Bethlehem Bible College have been engaging in different methods of recycling in order to deter the practice of littering and transform the concept of garbage into something that bears a new purpose that is useful.

Areej Murad, Bethlehem Bible College’s Development and Communications Officer, has been collecting used, one-sided A4 paper from the College in order to repurpose them into journals. She sends the used paper to the printer, and then has them cut into A5 notebooks to be used by staff, faculty and students at BBC. As a result, there is less paper wasted, and it is reused for other purposes.

Daniel Bannoura, teacher and facilitator of the Online Biblical Studies Program, began a recycling initiative with some friends a few years ago. The project, Tadwir, is a grassroots program that recycles glass products into raw crushed glass which can then be manufactured into products ranging from countertops to art pieces. With time, Tadwir hopes to gain traction in creating a self-sustainable recycling practice in the greater Bethlehem area and ultimately the West Bank.

Models like these are but a few examples of how to take the excess materials around us and repurpose them in such a way that contributes to and benefits society and the environment. We are called to be stewards of the earth (Genesis 1:26; 2:15), and there are very practical ways to engage in this. Our care of the earth should resemble that of the care we see shown to creation and humanity by Jesus. In our hopes to see a continually renewed earth as the Kingdom comes, we realize the importance of our role in helping make that a reality.

Caring for the environment and world in which we live should not be seen as a leftist agenda or regarded as a peripheral issue that merits little attention. As citizens of the Kingdom of God, there is an important role that we play in restoring and reconciling things back to God. As agents of reconciliation in this world (Colossians 1:19-20), we are to engage in this kind of restoration in every aspect. Our call to live in the Kingdom today requires an integrated life where we see the interconnectedness of humanity with God, one another, ourselves and creation.

So, on this International Mother Earth Day, a day set aside by the United Nations to celebrate and remind each of us that the Earth and its ecosystems provide us with life and sustenance, we also remember our unique roles as followers of Jesus to care for and steward the world in which we live.