For the last eight weeks I have been part of a team of Congolese pastors and Christian educators. As a group we have revised and updated Christian Education curriculum and teaching material for Congolese Presbyterian Church (CPC) primary schools in Congo. Currently, CPC primary schools do not have any material to assist teachers as they instruct students regarding the Christian faith. A chaplain, Pastor Kabasubabo, who serves a large region of CPC schools, felt burdened that something needed to be done. By God’s grace we will complete this program and be able to offer excellent teaching material for Christian instruction to all CPC primary school teachers.
Two weeks ago we were reviewing material for fifth year primary students. For the first semester, we cited major Old Testament figures such as Deborah, Hannah, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, and a handful of others. For the second semester, we cited for study the genesis of the Christian Church in the 1st century. After some reflection, we realized that we hadn’t inserted any material on Jesus and His teachings. Whoops! A major mistake! We decided that a good segue into the birth of the church would be Jesus’ Great Commission to “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them…and teaching them to obey everything [He has] commanded (Matthew 28: 19). While our group was happy with this course of action, Pastor Mbuyi suggested that we also add another teaching from the ‘Great Commission’, yet this one according to the book of Mark.
Knowledgeable and Biblically literate Christians will know that the traditional, well-known, and oft-cited ‘Great Commission’ is in the book of Matthew. But, the book of Mark? What is that all about? We quickly looked it up as Pastor Mbuyi reminded us all that in Mark, the ‘Great Commission’ is to “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” (Mark 16:15, emphasis added). Pastor Kayembe and I quipped to each other, “Well does that mean we preach to rabbits and trees as well?” All joking aside, we concluded together that perhaps the addition of Mark’s Gospel is the need to ‘preach the good news of Jesus Christ’ in all the ways we live in relation to God’s creation. We then reflected on the theme of stewardship - the need to take care of our cities and villages and how we treat the earth. By acting this way, we preach ‘the good news’ by honoring God and His creation.
I was so encouraged and challenged, hearing this message of ‘Creation Care’ and stewardship from my Congolese brothers and sisters. Perhaps their traditional connection to nature and its rhythms gives them an extra insight into the need to care for our surroundings. In the Kasaian traditional worldview, religion was an integral part of life, and religious belief had no meaning divorced from all other aspects of life. Kasaians admire beauty and see God’s power active in nature. For example, writes Dr. Mulumba Mukundi in his doctoral dissertation, if a Kasaian sees a wonderfully beautiful spot of trees or rocks, etc., he or she wonders, “Why is this spot so beautiful? Is not this the dwelling place of God?” (Mulumba, 1988). May we realize afresh that all of nature is the ‘dwelling place of God’ and that we, as stewards, are called to care for creation all around us.
“Go into all the world and preach to all creation” (Mark 16: 15)