Kyle Meyaard-Schaap Visits Eastern University
Last month, Evangelicals for Social Action was thrilled to help bring Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, the National Organizer and Spokesperson for YECA (Young Evangelicals for Climate Action), to Eastern University. Kyle served as a panelist for the university's climate change panel, spoke at chapel, and spent a lot of time answering people's questions.
His first night here, we had dinner with Kyle at Roast and Chop, along with chaplain Dr. Joe Modica and a few other students. Kyle gave us a brief background of his life and involvement with YECA, answering a few of our questions about creation care.
Wednesday morning Kyle spoke at chapel. He started off with an anecdote about a mother and young daughter baking chocolate chip cookies together. The daughter got eggshells in the batter, covered the kitchen in flour, and snuck chocolate chips when her mother wasn't looking. Despite this, her mother patiently picked out the eggshells, swept up the flour, and gave the daughter extra chocolate chips. Putting the cookies in the oven once all that was complete, the savory smell engulfed the whole house…but we had to wait until the end of Kyle's message to find out why he shared this story.
Next, Kyle gave us a survey of the entire Bible, as viewed through the specific lens of creation care. Stops along the way included passages from Genesis, John, Colossians, and Revelation, all of which focused on serving and protecting creation. Each of these passages fostered the audience's understanding of how to connect caring for creation to our relationship with Christ.
As Kyle said, caring for creation "shapes the way we play our part in it [the world]…It's His [God's] story. This is our story. How do we live in it?" This question called the audience to analyze the whole point of his message—to serve and protect creation, as God desires it. As Kyle closed his message, he reiterated the story of the mother and daughter making cookies, this time incorporating the fact that God patiently fixes our mistakes—and every time we play our story imperfectly, God is never far behind sanctifying our efforts, just as the same relationship is mirrored within the mother and daughter.
God patiently fixes our mistakes—and every time we play our story imperfectly, God is never far behind sanctifying our efforts.
After chapel, Kyle spent three hours answering various questions students had about creation care and climate change. Most of the concerns were geared towards individual actions, and the possibility of holding a civil conversation with family and friends who may disagree. Additionally, Kyle discussed the impact and power of telling our own stories, inspiring students to become more aware of the actions needed to preserve the planet. The call for collective action—specifically figuring out what individuals can do to make a larger group impact—was a popular subject. Finally, Kyle discussed the spiritual significance of taking action, particularly towards our carbon footprint as well as advocating for public policy to address climate change.
The day concluded with the creation care panel, featuring Kyle along with Alexios Alexander, Dr. Becky Hays, and Addison Martin (all of whom either work at, or graduated from, EU) discussing the effects of climate change and how people, including college students, can take action and assist in battling this global disaster. The first part of the discussion focused on the fact that climate change exists, the second part focused on how it's a global matter, and the third part concentrated on the actions people can take in order to combat climate change. One of these actions, Kyle stated, was joining YECA for the People's Climate Movement—specifically the march on Saturday April 29th to fight for justice for our planet.
Overall, Kyle's visit to Eastern raised awareness for the subject of creation care, altering perspectives on the relationship between creation care and Christ, as well as how to serve and protect the world that God has made. Kyle's various discussions throughout his stay promoted new interest in protecting the climate, and in taking action to preserve God's creation. As his time at Eastern was drawing to a close, I asked him what his biggest takeaway was. He responded with how impressed he was by the people at EU taking faithful steps towards climate change, and said it was "truly inspiring." Through these talks more people, especially at Eastern, will have a better understanding of the climate and what they can do to sustain it.
Jill Murphy is a senior at Eastern University.