God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Genesis 1:28
The Creation Mandate. For some, this God-given charge means cultivating the social world and nurturing the natural world through caring for animals, recycling, and building community.
For Steve Fitch, obeying this mandate led him to the dirt of Third World countries, planting millions of trees alongside local villagers.
“The Eden Project’s mission is to reduce extreme poverty in impoverished nations by hiring villagers as tree planters,” Steve said. “The reason we exist is to alleviate extreme poverty and to restore destroyed ecosystems.”
Steve’s work began when Haile Mariam, president of the Southern People’s Region of Ethiopia, invited him to take over a defunct reforestation project. Though this project failed, Steve used it to launch his organization, The Eden Project.
Since its beginning in 2005, The Eden Project has worked with thousands of villagers to plant trees throughout Ethiopia, Madagascar, Haiti, and Nepal. As they work to bring the dignity of employment to the impoverished people of these countries, Steve said he enjoys watching the results of their hard work.
“My favorite part of our work is seeing whole villages lifted out of economic deprivation, and seeing huge forests emerge,” he said.
Steve said the organization plans to expand into Indonesia by the end of 2017, a step that will be accomplished through unity, hard work, and the Lord’s guidance.
“Unity is a core value. There is so much division over the environmental issues. Unity means we do not see anyone wanting to help to be a ‘bad guy,’” he said. “Unity is also essential because the issues at hand are urgent. The destruction of the planet and the impact of environmental collapse on the poor is heading towards a global crisis.”
As The Eden Project continues their work, Steve said they still face challenges to their project and in their fundraising.
“Rampant corruption within impoverished nations is the number one challenge,” he said. “My least favorite part of our work is raising funds and trying to justify our work with argumentative people and third world corruption.”
The Eden Project welcomes any funding and volunteer help as they tackle the great amount of work they have before them. Even if you can’t help physically or financially, you can offer assistance through your daily prayers.
“I’d ask for prayer for the opening of Indonesia and the strength to lead Eden into a global transformation organization,” Steve said. “As of January 2017 we have already planted 140,000,000, but we need to plant a minimum of 250,000,000 trees each year through the employment of tens of thousands of villagers.”
Learn more about The Eden Project’s work and how to get involved by visiting EdenProjects.org.
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