Discipling the Next Generation in Caring for Creation

April 2024| min read

BY kscott@cbmin.org|April 22, 2024

min read

“Caring for God’s creation is a sign of the love we have towards God.”
Lia Nunez, youth participant in the Creation Care Program.


Written by Kathryn Scott – Global Field Staff, Dominican Republic

The sun is strong on our backs as our footsteps crunch through leaves, sticks, and other plant life in the field. Birds are chirping and singing in the trees around us. We pause for a minute, silently, listening to the environment around us. What a beautiful way to start a Sunday morning, on IBAREDO’s (Iglesias Bautista de la República Dominicana) farm, together with around 20 youth. We are looking for what types of birds we see that day, and after a discussion the day before on the effects of noise pollution on wildlife and the environment, we are taking advantage of the stillness to hear the world around us.

These 20+ youth are in their third and final weekend of their Creation Care Program. This group has been meeting together to have workshops on topics like the biblical basis for creation care, our roles as stewards, and to learn about environmental issues. They also have this opportunity to put their learning into practice by visiting IBAREDO’s farm to work, plant, clean up garbage, take care of the area, and more.

IBAREDO’s farm is located in Los Guananitos which is a small rural community about 50 km from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Though some of the community’s economic activities are in cocoa production, small livestock, and other short cycle fruit, there is little awareness of good environmental practices. The effects of using harmful pesticides, the deterioration of forested areas, and the use of riverbanks and other areas as places to dispose of large amounts of plastic and debris can easily be seen.

IBAREDO has a passion for caring for creation and specifically teaching the next generation about how to care for the world that God has given us. They have been working to address harmful practices by hosting training activities through immersion in environmental conservation practices. They plan to develop IBAREDO’s farm as a natural lab for the protection of local flora and fauna, water conservation, promotion of biodiversity, management of organic waste, reforestation, and produce cocoa and fruit trees.

Through this Creation Care Project, our partner wants to impart greater awareness of environmental issues to leaders and new generations. They also encourage the community to learn sustainable agriculture practices and help Christian leaders adopt life practices that are harmonious with creation, contributing to the well-being of their lives, their families, and the community.

CBM is also partnering with IBAREDO to administer workshop events for the youth of IBAREDO churches. In this first group, 5 different churches in IBAREDO’s association were represented. I have heard of how impactful these weekends have been for the youth in attendance.

They have learned to see God as Creator in a new and fresh way. They also learned about the role we all play in protecting and preserving our environment. When I was talking to some of the youth, they mentioned how much they enjoyed the practical aspect of the weekend. They spoke about working the land, learning how to plant trees, maintaining adequate space for plants so they can germinate and bear good fruit, and how God is reflected through his creation.

To understand the heart behind this initiative, it is best to hear from Robert Bueno, a former president of IBAREDO and the one who is managing this project:

“With this project we want the youth to know how to plant a tree, to know how to take care of a plant, how to keep an area clean, how to take care of the soil, and regenerate the soil. Something also important is ecological sensitivity and seeing how everything is related to the environment as part of your Christian commitment; attempting to connect everything our Creator God has done with the responsibility we have as believers and followers of Jesus.”

When I asked some of the youth about how these workshops have impacted their lives, a few of them said:

“We have learned things that will last us a lifetime, from how to plant a tree, to how to reflect on the word of the Lord.” – Lia Nunez

“It has made me much more aware of our responsibility towards creation and towards the environment. It has made me aware of the things I consume, and the things I do, and how these can affect creation.” – Nathaniel Cruz

“I have been impacted by this great project, Creation Care, both in my personal formation and in my spiritual formation. I have been able to understand that the relationship that God has with nature is something super important… [this project] has developed a great enthusiasm for me to protect the environment. I invite you to continue supporting the care and improvement of our environment.” – Johandry Pineda

Walking around the farm, as the youth were working in different areas, I noticed the young daughter of IBAREDO’s national coordinator helping with the different tasks assigned for that day. The verse from Proverbs 22:6 came to mind; “Train children in the right way, and when they are old, they will not stray.” (NRSV). Part of training the next generation in the wisdom and ways of the Lord includes teaching them their responsibility to creation.

During the last session, this group of youth were asked to think of an environmental issue they see in their homes, churches, or communities and come up with a solution. Their ideas were concise, practical, and could easily be applied. Though this was the end of the workshops for this first group of youth, a new group will start again in September. This is only the beginning. These young leaders see the importance of this issue and I pray that it is a conviction that lasts a lifetime.

I know these young leaders have the potential to make real changes in their churches, communities, and country. God is at work here in the Dominican Republic and that work includes healing the brokenness in creation. As new groups are formed to learn about creation care, I pray that their training would impact lives, cause sustainable change, and that this theme would be remembered as the next generation become whole-life disciples of Jesus.

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