An interview with Rachel Calvert as she starts a new role with A Rocha
Rachel, you’ve recently taken on the voluntary role of Chair of Trustees for A Rocha France. Can you explain a bit what this involves?
A Rocha is an international community of Christians working in nature conservation. In France, A Rocha has been actively caring for God’s creation for over twenty years, particularly through our field centres in the Vallée des Baux (near Arles) and more recently Les Courmettes (near Nice). We are one of the founding members of Église Verte, which provides a toolbox for churches to get involved in creation care. Through our ambassadors’ network, A Rocha also comes alongside churches, equipping Christians with the theological resources they need to develop a gospel-centred approach to ecological issues.
As Chair of Trustees, my task is to ensure that we stay on track in terms of our vision and strategy. I support the National Director in his work to make sure that the objectives fixed by the Board of Trustees are translated into action. I’m often responsible for representing A Rocha, both within Protestant circles (CNEF, Fédération protestante) and more widely. It’s also my job to ensure that we honour God in the way we manage our finances and legal responsibilities.
I can see that caring for the environment is a good thing to do… but isn’t it a bit of a distraction from the more urgent work of planting churches and preaching the gospel?
It can be. Preaching the gospel is uncomfortable and at times makes us unpopular. At a time when ecological issues are high on the public agenda, it could be tempting to focus our energy on something which seems more fashionable.
However, it’s not one or the other! We need to explain who Jesus is and why He came to all sorts of people… and for a growing proportion of our neighbours, the state of the planet is a huge concern. As Christians, we say that we believe that the earth is the Lord’s, that ecological chaos is the result of turning our back on our Creator, and that God is reconciling all things to himself in Christ. People need to see by our lives that we really believe the truths we confess. Climate change, the collapse of biodiversity, and overconsumption of resources are big issues. If we’re serious about planting healthy churches, loving our neighbour, and preaching the gospel in ways which are audible to our contemporaries, they are issues we can’t ignore.
How can we pray for the work of A Rocha?
Give thanks for Timothée (Scientific Director, in charge of the work in the Vallée des Baux), David (Director of Les Courmettes) and Jean-François (National Director). Pray that they would draw on a close and growing relationship with the Lord as they lead their teams.
Please pray that all of us at A Rocha would be faithful and effective in our witness for Christ within the conservation world. Pray that we would contribute to equipping Christians to explain the gospel to friends and colleagues who are very concerned about the ecological crisis, but don’t see how the Church or the Christian gospel is relevant to their fears and aspirations.
Pray too that we would serve the churches here in France well. We need to dig deep into Scripture so that God’s truth shapes the way we respond to these issues.
· Watch a short video (in French) about the workof A Rocha France at bit.ly/ARochaFR1
· Visit their English-language website at france.arocha.org/en/