Friends with A Rocha and World Renew (both excellent Christian NGOs) managed to get us an extensive meeting yesterday with top leaders of the Kenyan National Council of Churches. It’s hard to say what a privilege it is to meet with Peter Karanja, General Secretary, and Chris Kamau, Sr. Officer for Social Services. These men are top leaders representing the biggest church denominations in Kenya.
At the end of a wide-ranging discussion about creation care and environmental challenges, one of our fellow North Americans asked our Kenyan hosts: “We want you to be totally candid with us. Please don’t pull any punches. What should we tell our churches back in North America?”
They paused for a brief moment. I had the sense that they were torn between Christian hospitality and the Christian honesty we were asking for. But they chose – I think – the route of candor. I wasn’t taping their narrative, but scribbled in my notebook like mad. Here’s a smattering of what they said:
“We are very concerned, especially about America. They are the most obstinate country when it comes to climate change. We don’t know where it comes from. Maybe it comes from industry money, or maybe people just don’t know about climate change. They are not willing to reduce anything, and they’re not at all willing to finance the cost of adaptation (to climate change in affected poorer countries).
“The message needs to get to the American people. You need to tell your leaders: ‘We are the ones who put you in office. You have a responsibility to reduce your greenhouse gases which are harming the rest of the world.’
“We have these international conferences on climate change. But at the end of the day, the U.S. always comes up with something to make them collapse. We come away with nothing, and no hope. Because Christians are one family, they must be the ones to pressure their governments to act responsibly.
“There are a lot of people who have no idea about the impact of their lifestyles on other people. Long after your life is over, your actions will have consequences on us. Many of them will be harmful consequences.”
I just thought you’d want to know how some of the most senior leaders among your global brothers and sisters feel about you and me. If you’re angry at them, let yourself cool off for a bit, and read this again tomorrow. If you’re still angry, consider this: The average Kenyan emits 0.33 tons of CO2 per year. The average American, on the other hand, emits 19.3 tons. It would take 58 Kenyans to generate as much carbon pollution as one of us. But unlike most of us, they’re suffering exactly the droughts, floods and crop failures that climate science has been projecting.
Are you still mad? If not, then maybe you’ll consider passing your thoughts on to your congressional representative. It’s easy and you can do it here.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.