If you are taking time to read my book review of Tending to Eden by Scott Sabin, you are telling me that you are a compassionate person who cares about people and cares about the planet. However, the odds are that you have never experienced in your own personal life what you are about to read on the journey you will embark on with Scott Sabin, the Director of Plant with Purpose, within the pages of this book. That is, unless you are one of the 840 million people in the world that are chronically hungry, or survives on less than $2.50 a day, or are one of the 27 million people living as a slave.
If you have an inquiring mind and a beating heart, Tending to Eden will inform you, challenge you and change you. If you have traveled abroad to underdeveloped countries and your heart has broken for the people and their lands, Tending Eden will replace your sense of futility with hope and inspire you to act.
In the book’s foreword, Brian McLaren says it well: “Reading a book doesn’t change the world any more than writing one does. But when writers and readers are informed and inspired, they can take action together, and when that happens, change isn’t just possible; it’s inevitable.”
It has been a pleasure for me to know Scott personally, have heard him speak about Plant with Purpose reforestation projects, as well as collaborate with Scott and his staff while growing an online creation care community. I was delighted when asked to read a pre-publication galley copy of Scott’s book and be a part of his online blog tour happening simultaneously with the book’s release, today – March 3, 2010.
As the Executive Director of Plant with Purpose (formerly Floresta), Scott Sabin came to realize early on in his work that addressing serious environmental issues among the oppressed and impoverished of the world is truly foundational to the Great Commission to share the Good News, feed the poor and care for the widows and orphans – susceptible to every kind of infection disease known to man, without adequate shelter, clothing, clean water or sanitation, digging through heaps of trash for scraps to barter or eat.
Tending Eden is not going to bog you down with sad, sad stories that are more than you can bear, even though there is no end to how many Scott could have shared with his readers. Instead of painting one bleak word picture after another of the worst case scenarios and fixate on symptoms of things gone terribly wrong, Scott has chosen to inspire us and focus our attention upstream to identify causes and discover creative, sustainable solutions.
As Scott asked his questions, it became increasingly clear to him that “people need trees”, plain and simple. Without trees there is soil erosion, lack of water, failing economic and ecological systems, poverty and chronic hunger. Breaking the cycle of poverty is plausible when you know what you are up against. Take for instance waterborne disease. If you look upstream, as Scott describes, you end up with a pandemic of infectious and deadly diseases from tainted water when you don’t have trees; without firewood you can’t boil the water before you drink it. Reforestation plays a critical part in the restoration of every form of life on planet earth. But that is only one aspect of what Plant with Purpose does to help stop the vicious cycle of poverty and the ongoing depletion of natural resources.
The Plant with Purpose mission is to come along side those they serve to engage and equip them to discover and build upon their strengths. By empowering the people to participate in the process of the restoration of all things meaningful to sustain their lives, livelihood and land – dignity and independence is restored.
Plant With Purpose seeks to identify and find solutions for the real not perceived needs of the community. The impact of an environmental ministry has short-term and most importantly long-term benefits, which involves every aspect of a community: leadership and discipleship, micro-enterprises to boost the economy, rainwater harvesting and water shed restoration, agroforestry, sustainable organic farming practices, education, transportation, clothing, shelter, medical care, sanitation, quality of food and water… and the list goes on.
At the heart of the book, Scott makes it clear that in order to bring restoration, broken relationships need to be healed – personal relationships with God, relationships with one another and relationships with His creation. When you read Tending Eden, you will learn the truth about what is needed and what it takes to make a difference one life and one village at a time.
Scott has included “Step Aside” articles by some our nation’s most respected ministers and creation care leaders: Matthew Sleeth MD, Rusty Prichard, Leroy Barber, Cal DeWitt, Tony Campolo, Mark Labberton, Dr. Robert C. Linthicum, JoAnne Lyon, Dr. Paul Robinson, Tom Theriault and Tri Robinson.
Be sure to use the Creation Care Small Group Study Guide and Resources in the back of the book to start a discussion with family and friends. Seek ways to make an impact in your own community and explore ways you can partner with Plant with Purpose to accomplish their mission in the poor rural communities of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Tanzania, Burundi and Thailand.
I found Tending Eden to be well balanced between the presentation of factual information and engaging storytelling. I pray that a copy of Tending Eden ends up in every high school and college library across the country.
Enjoy listening to Tending to Eden: An Interview with Author, Scott Sabin.