Tragic death of Christian environmentalists

A Rocha, an international network of Christian environmentalists, has lost key members in a tragic accident.

“On Monday, 28 October, Peter and Miranda Harris, co-founders of A Rocha, and Chris Naylor, A Rocha International CEO, together with his wife Susanna, were involved in an horrific car accident in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Miranda, Chris and Susanna did not survive,” A Rocha said in an official statement.

“We love nature, because God loves nature and nature points us to God.” – Chris Naylor

“Peter and the driver of the car are being treated at a local hospital and are in a stable condition. We await further news on their progress.”

A Rocha aims to protect the environment through local, community-based conservation, scientific research, and environmental education. It has a key partnership with the Lausanne/World Evangelical Alliance Creation Care Network.

A Rocha is Portuguese for “the rock”. The network’s first project started in Portugal in 1983.

Its work includes sponsoring scientific projects, such as the the most extensive bird research project ever undertaken in Lebanon and a long term study into farmer/elephant conflicts in a national park in South India.

In an interview with Eternity, Chris Naylor explained why Christians should care for the Earth. As a missionary in the Beqaa Valley in Eastern Lebanon, Naylor got involved with efforts to protect the Aammiq marsh on the floor of the valley in the years following the civil war. He explained why to Tess Delbridge:  “As Christians, we have a huge amount to say about why we have this aching desire in our hearts to see and protect and conserve beauty. Outside the Christian tradition, many people don’t have answers to that, whereas of course we do.

“We love nature, because God loves nature and nature points us to God.”

As a missionary, Chris believed that he had been tasked with taking the whole gospel to the world, not just bits of the gospel.

“Too often we’ve been selective in what we think are the bits of the gospel that people need to hear.”

“Clearly the broken relationship between mankind and God is hugely important and our individual salvation is a fundamental part of the gospel, but it is a part of the gospel and the whole gospel is much broader than that.

“It has implications for how we treat our fellow human beings, and how we also treat the earth.”

Naylor visited Australia, setting up the local branch of A Rocha, shortly after writing his book Postcards from the Middle East: How Our Family Fell in Love With the Arab World.

“This is an unspeakable tragedy for the entire global creation care community.” – Edward R. Brown

Local reports suggest the vehicle they were travelling in plunged off Swartkops Bridge in Port Elizabeth after colliding with a pick-up truck, according to London’s Premier Christian Radio.

“Peter and Miranda are pioneers in what is now a global creation care movement, and Chris has led A Rocha brilliantly for many years. It would not be possible to overstate the significance of their contribution both personally and professionally,” Edward R. Brown – Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care and director of the ministry Care of Creation – told Christianity Today.

“Though we rejoice in the hope of the resurrection, this is still an unspeakable tragedy for the entire global creation care community.


Some prayer points to help

Pray for the A Rocha community, the relatives, staff supporters and all involved in their projects