When God calls us to dream with Him

“God writes the Gospel, not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

Martin Luther

Many people have asked me how I got involved with environmental work. It all started just after I returned from an exchange program in London, U.K. I still had about a year and a half left before I could graduate with my Bachelor’s in Economics from Mackenzie University in my hometown, Sao Paulo, Brazil. In the beginning of 2000, I got an internship in the Sao Paulo Agricultural Economics Institute, a branch of the Department of Agriculture. As the time passed, I became interested in research about economics and the connection with the environment and I became involved in a research program about the synergy between both areas. When I completed my internship, I started an environmental economics course in my senior year at college, which continued to pique my interest in the topic.  I started thinking about working in this area and I could see God guiding me. However, I still had no idea what I wanted for my future professional life after I graduated.

During that time I was also part of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (ABU). I used to attend their meetings and, in one of them, they talked about Peter Harris’ book Under the Bright Wings[1], which had just been released in Portuguese. They mentioned that the book talked about environmental conservation and Christian Faith; a subject that I knew nothing about but intrigued me nonetheless. I decided to buy the book and started reading it. As I read, I wanted to know about the subject more and more; I began to see a practical way that I could connect my economics major with my faith.

Then the Lord gave me a sign so clear that I could not ignore. As I reached the last pages of the book, I saw the addresses of A Rocha’s headquarters 7 or 8 countries where they were active at the time with the U.K. being one of them. When I got to the address of the A Rocha U.K. ‘s office, I was shocked to see that it was exactly the same address where I had lived on my exchange in 1998:

“13 Avenue Rd, Southall, UB1 3BL, United Kingdom”

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I read the address twice. I couldn’t believe it! The first thing I thought was that it was God calling me to start looking deeper into this organization and how I could get involved. I immediately got in touch with A Rocha U.K. and found out that the host family during my exchange program moved to another city in England and that house was then used to establish A Rocha U.K. exactly a year after I had left to come back to Brazil.

I started researching more about Christianity and creation care and also get more in touch with A Rocha to see about starting a chapter of the organization in Brazil. My inquiries led me to A Rocha’s chapter in Portugal, where it had originally begun where I contacted Marcial Felgueiras, the director of the Portuguese chapter. Marcial helped me connect Brazilians who were also interested in getting involved in the organization.

Besides me, two more people got in touch with Marcial about the same time I did and Marcial introduced us to each other. There we were, three young men, all from different parts of our enormous country, with neither experience in creation care nor knowledge on how to start or run a non-profit. We didn’t know where to start, but  we did know that we all wanted to be part of this great journey: to build A Rocha in Brazil.

This dream of rebuilding the story of God’s creation on Earth according to Romans 8:18-25 seemed so far from becoming a reality. But, all that God wanted from us was a step of FAITH!

Learning as we went, and with a lot of faith, trial, and error, from the three of us, two ended up being the founders (including myself) of A Rocha Brazil in 2003. A Rocha Brazil has now  three full time workers, a scientific advisory committee, a national board of directors, a board of reference, and a significant number of volunteers. They also have two main environmental education projects working with local churches in several parts of the country. Moreover, the organization worked with no money at all in 2003 and now it has been working with about 70,000.00 dollars a year (from donations and project grants).

One of the main lessons I ‘ve learned from this chapter of my life is that even if we don’t know where and how to start, God leads us and enables us with the necessary skills and knowledge along the way. He also brings other people with complementary skills to join the dream. All we need is faith, courage and strength to persevere. That was a beautiful journey learning to dream with Him.

[1] Harris, Peter (1993). Under the Bright Wings. Regent College Publishing: Vancouver, Canada.


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