Evangelical group teaches farming, provides hospitality to refugees, and watches local salmon

Children learning to care for the environment through A Rocha Canada. Photo by Brooke Mcallister.

A Rocha Canada is a Christian community based on a farm in Surrey, British Columbia, that teaches people about the environmental, protects the local watershed, and tries to live in harmony with each other and the land.

By Jason Byassee

The roots of A Rocha lie in the evangelical Christian world. The Kostamos studied at evangelical Regent College in Vancouver. Markku is a child of Finnish missionaries to Nepal; Leah worked for Campus Crusade for Christ in Washington and Idaho. While church groups have been mostly open to A Rocha’s message of creation care, there have been some that have been wary. Leah tells of a summer family camp that invited her to speak and then received emails of concern from people who said they were interested in learning about Jesus, not about the environment. Nevertheless, some evangelical zeal seems necessary in the face of ecocatastrophe. As Atwood comments, “You cannot save what you don’t love.”
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When I visited the farm, Leah explained to me the way salmon spawn: The male lies on his side and digs a hole. The female lays eggs in the hole, and the male fertilizes them. Then both of them die. It’s not a very efficient way to reproduce, but as Harris says in Under the Bright Wings, birdwatching is not very efficient either. And neither is the God who saves humans by taking flesh among an oppressed people in an obscure part of the world. There may be more efficient ways of doing conservation than through a Christian community. But A Rocha seeks to match its work to the patient ways of a God who counts the sparrows and hairs on people’s heads.
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The genius of A Rocha is that it’s a conservation organization built on Christian hope. Strident warnings about the looming ecocatastrophe are often tinged with doom. People feel outgunned by corporations and unheeded by governments. It seems the end is coming whatever we do. In contrast, the work of A Rocha is marked by joy. Its members go about their work of studying species, reporting results, guarding the watershed, and selling shares in community-supported agriculture. Whether others join them or ignore them, these Christians are happy in their own skin. They are “convinced that matter matters to God, who created the stuff and even became the stuff and calls us to steward the stuff on his behalf,” Leah writes.

To read Jason Byassee’s entire Christian Century article, click HERE.

To find out more about A Roche, click HERE.

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