Climate change experts and skeptics can hash it out all they want, but Victor Mughogho is living it.
His home country of Malawi is already feeling the effects of climate change in real and devastating ways. Five droughts in the past 20 years, coupled with changing weather patterns, have resulted in famine — and a generation of children growing up developmentally stunted because of malnourishment.
Mughogho says about 85 percent of his country lives and farms the land in rural areas.
"For them, rainfall is everything," he said. "WIthout rain, there's no agriculture, no livelihood."
In the 70s and 80s, rural Malawians could count on consistent rainfall in October. They could plant maize on the same day each year and have a guaranteed return. Now, the unpredictable weather means they plant multiple times a year, hoping and praying for rain — and end up with a fraction of what they used to reap.
"We had a severe famine in Malawi — a food crisis that was threatening the lives of of close to 5 million people," Mughogho said. "People weren't just starving; people were dying. People were resorting to eating poisonous stuff from the forest."
Mughogho's ministry, Eagles Relief and Development Program, helps Malawians grow drought-tolerant crops, set up community gardens, and provide childcare and education for orphaned children.
Mughogho says it's a community responsibility to work together to address the problem.
"We are trying to [educate] churches to understand their biblical mandate for social action," he said. "… We ask the question, 'What do you have in this community that can help address the challenges you are facing?'"
And, he emphasized, climate change is a global issue.
"It needs global minds put together," he said. "Who is better suited for that task than the Christians?"
Sandi Villarreal is associate web editor for Sojourners. Elaina Ramsey is assistant editor for Sojourners magazine.