Written by Sarah Rodrigues (National Director – JMA)

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured these images of several fires burning in the states of Rondônia, Amazonas, Pará, and Mato Grosso on August 11 and August 13, 2019. See the source here.

According to NASA (August 13, 2019), the fire season has arrived in the Amazon rainforest! One of their articles states that “…in the Amazon region, fires are rare for much of the year because wet weather prevents them from starting and spreading. However, in July and August, activity typically increases due to the arrival of the dry season. Many people use fire to maintain farmland and pastures or to clear land for other purposes. Typically, activity peaks in early September and mostly stops by November. As of August 16, 2019, satellite observations indicated that total fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average in comparison to the past 15 years. Though activity has been above average in [the state of the] Amazonas and to a lesser extent in Rondônia [state], it has been below average in Mato Grosso [state] and Pará [state], according to the Global Fire Emissions Database.”

As this subject has been given widespread coverage in the media outlets around the world, we can imagine the questions and concerns that have surfaced as a result of these stories, given that so many of you care deeply for the people in the Brazilian Amazon. Nonetheless, it is difficult to fully contextualize these fires taking place in some parts of the Amazon.  

Let me share what we know…

Nature has it’s own ways 

As NASA’s article stated, fires are unfortunately an annual event in the Amazon due to the dry season – a season of high heats and no rain. This phenomenon takes place every year in the entire Amazonia, mostly in Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. These countries have sought help in the past to fight the fires. From a personal perspective, I have lived in the Amazon for 10 years, and every year between August and November we expect for the city of Manaus, at some point, to be covered by smoke from fires in different spots of the jungle. Year after year, from our windows we can see and smell the smoke. Fires in the Amazon are not a new phenomenon or 2019 crisis. For good reasons, efforts should be undertaken to prevent these fires. On a hopeful note, the Amazon is a treasure of God, maybe a piece of Eden – our beautiful and albeit imperfect garden, and it ought to be protected. We are talking about almost 6 million square kilometers of jungle. The jungle will remain. Who waters the forests of this world? Who plants new trees when the rivers take them down? The jungle is resilient and will remain. We will continue to fight for it as part of God’s creation.
 

We are in the middle of mediatic-political crisis & war 

And the war is real! How do we attempt to know the actual truth on the matter in a time of fake news and manipulated information bathed in different interests from all sides? We should not minimize the damage these annual fires do to the jungle and arguably, countering the fires should be a priority. Nonetheless, I encourage you to use discernment in what you read. Crosscheck your sources. If you seek alternative sources of information, you are likely to achieve a more balanced and accurate perspective. 

Our friends are safe

Many of you have reached out to us asking about our pastors, friends, and staff who live in the Amazon, and we are thankful and relieved to tell you that these fires have not taken place near to them. Although some news would have you believe that these fires are taking place all over the Amazon, and there is no hope of recovery, that narrative simply stated is not true. The fires remain in specific areas – mostly deeper in the Amazon, the northern part of the Amazonia, and other states of Brazil. Please pray, nonetheless, for the affected families in those areas.

“…creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” (Romans 8:19) 

The Amazon is in desperate need of the Gospel unto salvation. It is of no surprise that there is the need for reconciliation of all things with our Creator. It is for that reconciliation between God and mankind that we serve diligently and urgently in the Amazon region of Brazil. For He who reconciled us to himself through Christ, has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that being, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore today on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. People and nature are in deep suffering and out of sync with our Creator. Our call remains, to continually take His truth, His love and His abundant grace to all of His creation to the immense jungle of the Amazon. He is still the King of, and over the Jungle – pray for rain in the time of no rain! 

We care for what HE cares for

We are challenged because this world passes through all that reflect the fallenness of God’s original perfect creation. That fallen state of nature is reflected in fires, floods, enabled by fallen humans who make poor decisions and neglect what needs to be done to preserve nature. God will reconcile it all back to him. We are called to be right in the middle of it, like Jesus did, not as spectators of the chaos, but as Kingdom agents who care for what He cares for: the lost who desperately need the Gospel of God’s saving mercy and grace. As followers of Christ, we are committed to carry on that task. We care for the Amazon and the people in it, because He cares.
 
Many of you make our work in the Amazon possible, and we encourage you to stay connected with us, as God continues to give us opportunities to serve Him in the middle of His beautiful creation, groaning to be released from its current bondage, due to original sin. 
 
Thank you for Making Justice Personal!

 

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