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 Community describes 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.
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.
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.