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A Deeply-Planted Faith

A Deeply-Planted Faith

Leah Kostamo believes we’re called to care for and keep God's creation.
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Leah Kostamo is passionate about caring for God's created world. A co-founder of Canada's branch of A Rocha, an international Christian conservation ministry, Leah and her husband Markku started Canada's first Christian environmental center, which focuses on environmental education and conservation work. It's also home to an organic CSA-farm that feeds about 100 families and provides nourishment for those in poverty.

Leah's book Planted: A Story of Creation, Calling, and Communitydescribes her family's journey into conservation work and makes a compelling case for why we, too, are called to steward God's created world. In honor of Earth Day, TCW regular contributor Kelli B. Trujillo spoke with Leah about environmental stewardship and its connection to our Christian faith.

Leah's kids, Maya and Bryn, and A Rocha's intern Audrey explore the wonder of a river.Image: Brooke McAllister

Leah's kids, Maya and Bryn, and A Rocha's intern Audrey explore the wonder of a river.

How did your passion for God's created world begin?

Though I live in Canada now, I'm from the States. I grew up in Arizona, but during my childhood summers, my parents took us up to Orcas Island, an island off the coast of Washington.

Ecologist Rachel Carson once said, "If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder . . . he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in." For me, Orcas Island was a special place of wonder. Our neighbors there, a biologist and an ornithologist, took my family on daily adventures. They had handmade canoes and kayaks they would take us out in; they took us on hikes and taught us the names of plants. Together, we worked in their huge organic garden.

For me, the love of creation was already there. Those childhood summers on Orcas Island, learning with our neighbors and spending every day outside, served to foster and ground this blooming passion.

This mindset can lead people to look at the world primarily as a resource instead of as God's creation.

How does your faith inform your environmental concern? And what do you see as some of the key ideas that uniquely shape a Christian approach to environmental issues?

We often approach the world in a very anthropocentric way, as if we humans are the center of everything and we own everything. This mindset can lead people to look at the world primarily as a resource instead of as God's creation. The organization we work with, A Rocha, takes its inspiration from Psalm 24:1: "The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it." This completely flips anthropocentrism on its head. Nothing really belongs to us—everything we see belongs to God.

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Kelli B. Trujillo

Kelli B. Trujillo is editor of Today’s Christian Woman. Follow her on Twitter at @kbtrujillo or @TCWomancom.

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Displaying 1–3 of 6 comments

Dorothy Greco

April 24, 2014  8:17pm

I am so happy to read this and to see Leah's work featured. I totally agree with this thought: "Sin doesn't only fracture our relationship with God and with people; it also fractures our relationship with creation," yet so few seem to get this. Thanks Kelli and Leah for getting the word out.

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Jason F

April 24, 2014  9:39am

This is not normally a website I read but I was lead here by a link in a group I am a part of. I think Kelli's point is well made - that overall the production farming industry is causing great damage to the land as well as to human health - but individual farms that employ manufacturing methods of animal husbandry can choose to do so as responsibly as possible. That being said - I do not see how family farms using antibiotics (used to speed growth) and other hormones honors GOD or the animals - and that's only one practice as an example. Other disturbing realities of CAFOs include placing hogs in cages ("gestation crates"), feeding cows chicken poop, candy, bread, donuts and other cast offs - when they were designed by GOD to eat grass. As a Christian I am deeply involved in the local food movement in the community that we are a part of - and we are currently opposing efforts to bring CAFOs into our county which is rural and very rooted in agriculture.

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Kelli Trujillo

April 24, 2014  8:00am

I think this discussion about farming practices is really helpful. As an Iowa-born girl, I've got lots of farming in my family tree. And now as a Hoosier, I know how critical farmers are to our country (and state). I certainly think that farmers, in general, have a much deeper connection to the land than many of the rest of us. So I deeply appreciate the hard work farmers do! That said, when we look at the big picture (rather than just at individual farming families), we see large-scale trends that are certainly detrimental to the environment, from the threat to marine life caused by fertilizer runoff to the dangers to human health from some factory-farming practices. More info can be found here: http://www.nrdc.org/water/pollution/ffarms.asp Christians can certainly graciously disagree on these matters and we may each make different conclusions about how to live out our care for God's creation. I value the variety of opinions expressed here!

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