The daily lived realities of climate change

This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’s Climate Justice: Learn, Pray, Join initiative.

 

Dr. Sibonokuhle Ncube has served as the national coordinator of Compassionate Development Service, the relief and service agency of the Brethren in Christ Church of Zimbabwe and a partner of Mennonite Central Committee. She is currently a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. She has almost 20 years’ experience in various development contexts, including climate change management and finance and disaster preparedness. She is a former deaconess of Mount Pleasant Brethren in Christ Church in Harare, Zimbabwe. She lives in Goshen, Indiana.

 

What drew you to this work?

My road to climate change activism started when I was about 10 years old. Concerns for my relatives and their neighbors in rural Zimbabwe each time intermittent drought affected their crops made me question how I could help. Stories of loss of crops, hunger and death of livestock overheard from my parents’ discussions would make my heart sink. After the news of crop failure, a relative or two would come into the city to visit us. Later, more relatives would also follow. Some came for a long visit, or for an indefinite stay.

It appeared like sending food to our rural folk was not sustainable. After a hard season, with harvest mostly coinciding with the end of the first school term (March-April), memories of our crowded house made a deep impression on me. The voice of my disappointed grandmother, who worked the land religiously and meticulously in a ‘tag team’ with my mother, remains etched in my memory.

In my child-like musings, I resolved that when I grew up, I would do something about the hunger and poverty of my people. Whatever was causing the drought had to be stopped!

Gradually, I have studied rural and urban planning, project planning and management, peace-building, development studies, climate finance governance and now, theology and peace studies, to prepare myself for effective service. Following my faith in God’s reconciling mission, my voluntary and professional work has been wrestling with issues of governance and subverting injustices through hybrid interventions in gender transformative humanitarian relief, recovery, long term development and organizational strengthening work.

I have been keen on facilitating re-dignification programming that returns agency to people and the land by co-creating interventions that follow pathways that communities believe will assure them a sustainable future, while healing relationships and the land.

My concern with survivance of rural communities amidst complex development challenges, has called for technical competence in multiple integrated rural and urban development themes with a view to help vulnerable communities that directly rely on agriculture for survival.

Apart from structural, socio-economic and cultural factors, the shifting climate has been an increasing cause of vulnerability and pernicious driver of poverty. I have observed exacerbation of marginality of already struggling communities such as in my country Zimbabwe, where climate variability has been characterized with cycles of weather extremes. This is also true of many nations in the conceptual global south and has inspired me to speak up and out.

 

What is the hardest thing in doing this work?

The corpus of tension generated by seeming business as usual versus a much-needed business unusual response framework is particularly exasperating. The irony of desiring urgent transformation and just transitions in favor of those at the edge today, and what’s at stake tomorrow, struggles with the daily grind of the world system, whose velocity does not seem to be intricately in-sync.

The tension generated by the incongruousness above, comes to the fore when one considers the injustice in the daily lived reality from climate change and its impacts on creation, versus a complex of resigned, dithering or non-committal world systems. Occasionally, one gets a strong urge to let go of everything else and work exclusively in climate change response.

 

What is the most rewarding thing in doing this work?

Being an agent of God bears a promise of God’s support for God’s own work. I am greatly encouraged to participate with the value chain of stakeholders within the community who are pushing the envelope. Seeing the faith community taking leadership with a faith witness that not only travails for those who do not yet know Christ, but is also cognizant of the contemporary and ongoing travail of creation, has heightened my sense of reward.

Climate responsiveness, migration, disaster response and preparedness, protection and advocacy for non-violence are areas where a living testimony of God’s power is required in our age. This is an example of faith with works that please God.

 

How does your spiritual conviction integrate with your work?

My faith determines my work. I intentionally chose to co-labor with God for and among those communities described in Matthew 25:31-46 as part of radical discipleship.

 

What should the Mennonite churches in the West know about climate change?

Climate change is very real and disastrous for many communities in the global south that experience the disproportionate impact of the shift. It behooves our generation to do our part in many ways, from personal lifestyle changes to policy influence.

I encourage Mennonite churches to continue increasing the ministry and community work that is on-going by asking, ‘What else would Jesus do?’

 

What can we do now to make a difference?

We also need to urgently consider what personal lifestyle changes still need to be affected. We all have a responsibility and can do something. We need to keep supporting the youth as communities act together. We need to continue raising the bar by supporting the on-going work of Anabaptist agencies, church and community initiatives for raising awareness and for the need to change our production and consumption. At an institutional level, this could mean further strengthening research and resource-sharing with the global network for increased impetus.

 


This post is part of Mennonite Church USA’s Climate Justice: Learn, Pray, Join initiative

We invite you to:

Pray for those who are most vulnerable among us and who are most impacted by climate change, including those who have already been displaced.

Pray for the waters, the plants, all living creatures and the earth with gratitude, that we may recognize their sacredness and participate in their restoration.

Pray that we will find the motivation to respond to climate change in our own lives, congregations and communities.

Pray for local, community and business leaders to help make communities healthier and greener while centering those who are vulnerable. Pray that our political leaders and world leaders would become more active in reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

Pray for the youth and future generations, who will live with the growing consequences of climate change.

Find worship resources, a recorded webinar, and ways to get involved in advocating for climate justice at mennoniteusa.org/climatejustice.

 


The views and opinions expressed in this blog belong to the author and are not intended to represent the views of the MC USA Executive Board or staff.