The Most Important Renewable Energy Source

June 26, 2012

There’s a lot of emphasis these days on discovering and developing new energy sources across Africa. Just this week, news agencies around the world highlighted the development of natural gas off Africa’s east coast. More specifically, Ethiopia is in the middle of a monumental hydro-power project in the Nile River. This is potentially great news for Africa, despite the geo-political turmoil likely to go along with it.  

While much of the continent sits on enough natural resources to power itself and probably the rest of the world, access to this resource is fleeting for most people, leading NGOs and other agencies to focus on small devices that can harness the power of ‘renewable energy’ for individual families. Energy companies see great market potential in expanding access to products like solar-powered ceiling lamps. 

The idea is simple – use an energy source that requires minimal infrastructure but has the power to transform a home, classroom, factory, or business. What a tremendous, real-life metaphor for how God’s people are to function in their community.  Jesus made this point during His famous mountainside sermon:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16

Ladies from a small village church.

The magic of man-made light is that it literally changes every place it appears.  As we work with church leaders in rural Ethiopia, our goal is to inspire, empower, and equip believers to be like solar-powered ceiling lamps in their villages.  They bring blessing and warmth, and life. They create opportunities for learning and development, although their ‘energy’ is in the Holy Spirit and God’s truth rather than a fiery ball in the sky.   Their knowledge is a power that allows them to encourage friends and neighbors to see a world they never dreamed of.  Their impact is in the community not in a church building.  In fact, meeting together as a church is meant to be the place where they store up energy to go light up the community. 

In many respects, mind and heart illumination is more important for rural Ethiopians than access to renewable energy sources. It provides the motivation, imagination, and spiritual power to create a community that can truly maximize the potential of material power.

How does God’s light create new ways of thinking/living for you at home, school, or at work? Share your thoughts below!