Praise and worship songs could be heard from the entrance of the nature trail in the forest surrounding A Rocha Kenya’s Mwamba Field Study Centre. As the norm, every Monday our staffs meet in the morning for a time of praise and prayer, then a brief meeting. But 23rd September was no ordinary Monday. It was a ‘time-out day’. A day to rejoice, reflect and contemplate our lives in this journey of conserving God’s beautiful earth.
The morning started with an uplifting session of praise and worship. Colin (A Rocha Kenya’s director) skillfully played the guitar as the team joined in with different hymns and choruses, most of them focusing on God as the Creator. It was a beautiful time in the presence of the Lord.
Afterwards, the marine team gave a presentation showing videos of the marine pollution in the oceans and on the beaches around the world. With the images of tonnes of trash floating in the seas, it felt like our little efforts were futile. The UN marine conservation agency predicts that by the year 2050, plastic waste will outweigh the marine wildlife in the ocean. This information did not help in boosting our morale, especially having just participated in the 2019 International Coastal Cleanup. Concerns were raised such as, “Even if we collect a ton of trash in a day, ten more tonnes of trash are being dumped into the ocean elsewhere. What was the point?” It felt like the hummingbird which carries a drop of water in it’s beak to try and put out a raging forest fire!
What do we do as Christians in conservation? What is our place in all this? Do we give up? Certainly not! There is hope, and we feel it A Rocha Kenya. Hope in our country, which banned the use of polythene bags, greatly reducing plastic pollution. Hope in our ASSETS programme that has enabled the sponsorship of many school children whilst protecting the largest remaining area of the East African coastal forest, the Arabuko-Sokoke Forest, and the associated tidal inlet of Mida Creek. There is hope in the marine conservation team, picking litter every week despite the tonnes still floating in the oceans. There is hope from the community, in those who heed the call to restore the Forest and use the accepted sizes and materials for fishing nets. There is hope from the donors and volunteers, who devote their time and money to our cause.
Colin Jackson, Director of A Rocha Kenya said, “There is a reason we changed the tagline in our name from ‘Christians in conservation’ to ‘Conservation and Hope’. Hope is the anticipation that something good is going to happen. How can we lead in conservation when we have no hope for the future? And where does this hope come from? It comes from God, the creator of heaven and earth.’’
By the time we met to close the day, everyone was very hopeful. Hopeful that their actions matter and that a little will go a long way. Hopeful that the turtle swimming all the way from South Africa, coming back to where she was born, will find a clean beach to nest her eggs, if we help her do so.