“The Lord God had planted a garden in the east <…>; and there he put the man he had formed.” (Genesis 2:8)
People often say “to change the world, start from yourself” and we believe that small things also matter. We are a young family living in a private house with a garden in a little town in Slovakia. Our family mission includes “loving God by serving the local community, church, and nature”. We want to obey Christ in our life as well as to inspire others. We believe that the task God the Creator gave to humanity – “be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it, rule over… every living creature…” (Genesis 1:28) – means responsible stewardship: to take care and not misuse nature, as well as to be involved in environmental issues, and not to ignore them.
Our subjective observations show that many nature-friendly people, at least in this region, tend to be either atheists or religious people interested in pagan traditions or practices of Eastern religions. On the contrary, many followers of Christ do not pay enough attention to nature and the environment. Even worse, some “nominal Christians” (those just baptised in childhood and taking Christianity more as a culture than as a personal life-changing faith) think they have God’s given right to misuse nature for their own benefit. We would like to be a bridge between those groups, showing that it is possible and important to take seriously both – God and nature.
Sometimes one can hear strange statements here, like “nature cannot survive without human intervention” from local foresters. Undoubtedly protecting the untouched wildlife is necessary, but when we cultivate nature for our own needs, we have to do it responsibly, for the glory of God. We are trying to apply the principles of “natural gardens” or “permaculture” to the little space given to our family – observing natural processes and factors, increasing species diversity, returning nutrients to the soil by adding compost and attracting natural predators instead of using pesticides. Sometimes people are willing to help nature and teach children, for example in making houses for birds or insects, but if built not according to the ecology of the species, those can remain empty or be dangerous for the inhabitants. So it is good to plan gardening that is scientifically based and to educate yourself. Nowadays we should think a lot about waste, and we are glad that recycling, upcycling, zero-waste, and other approaches are becoming more popular. Also in our garden, we are trying to reuse things or use local compostable materials. We are just at the beginning yet, not experts in gardening, learning, and experimenting daily, but choosing simple methods that could be easily repeated by others in their homes. As we would like to influence visitors – about gardening and care for nature, as well as towards God – we are trying to organize the place educationally. In the current situation, we are sharing our experiments and thoughts at least through social media networks.
Our dream is a Christian community, living responsibly with nature, helping each other, and open to everybody interested so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ would transform us in every area of life. We pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10) Why couldn’t each of us join this work of God already now?
Mārīte Krupova has a Master‘s degree in Biology and worked in the Latvian Christian student fellowship (IFES Latvia). She now lives in East Slovakia with her husband Pavel.
All images: Mārīte Krupova