I always took for granted that my faith and my connections with nature and my family were one.Peter Fargo
“Baker is a beautiful place to live with people that have big hearts, and we’ve just felt so welcome. What brought us here is a love for God’s creation –the land, forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, all the fish and wildlife that rely on the natural world, and all the people that do too. The great outdoors have been a source of boundless inspiration and adventure for my family. For me, this appreciation of nature started at a really young age. I was born in Fresno, California, and we used to hike in the foothills of the Sierras and camp at Shaver Lake. My earliest memories are wandering around in the woods and spending that time with family. I’ve always felt like my best self in nature.
My family moved to Anchorage, Alaska when I was about four years old. We were surrounded by some of the most spectacular country in the world, full of wildness and wildlife. Alaska, like most places, is also full of people, culture, and the myriad connections that they have with the land. At 12, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, and I felt the contrast. Everything seemed hot or sharp between the poisonous snakes, scorpions, and cacti. I actually got stung by a scorpion that first summer and I thought I was going to die! It was also a big realization to see the different environments that we can live in and the stark beauty of the desert. One surprising observation was how many people live in large metropolitan areas and never have the experience of being on a trail or being in the forest. That combined upbringing in California, Alaska, and Arizona led me to dedicate my career to conservation.
Another piece of my life was being raised as a person of faith in the Catholic Church. I always took for granted that my faith and my connections with nature and my family were one. There was a common thread that bound them all together. So I chose to go to college at Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution in Washington, DC. That was a wonderful opportunity to connect the dots of my interests in life. In between classes, internships, and everything else DC had to offer, I had a chance to study important contemporary issues in light of the Gospel, and also to interact with people from different faith traditions, or none at all.
We all share this beautiful life-giving planet. We all rely on it, and it inspires us to pursue purposes in this life that are connected with our higher power. For me, as a Christian, it all begins with the first book of the Bible, Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…and it was good.” When I see our snow-covered Elkhorn Mountains glowing in the sunrise, I breathe in that crisp winter air and at the same time feel the warmth of a new day, I feel a sense of awe, a sense of humility, and also a sense of responsibility.
In recent decades, we have all witnessed dramatic changes in the world around us. We know climate change is here, and it’s getting worse. I have to admit that climate change has been heavy on my mind, but my heart has had little to say about it, until recently. It seemed too big, complex, and controversial for me to make a meaningful difference, so I just wanted to look the other way. But then, one day while I was on the Leo Adler Trail in Baker City, I felt an undeniable calling, and started to pray about it. I asked God to change me, so I could respond to climate change, so I could help build a world that is safe for my children, so I could help restore His beautiful and diverse creation. My feeling of “this is impossible” yielded to the promise of Luke 1:37, that “nothing will be impossible with God.”
I found a sense of hope, purpose, and courage that I didn’t have before, and that’s why I launched a Christian ministry called the Million Prayer Mission. It’s all about loving God and loving our neighbors by responding to climate change. Starting January 1, we are hosting virtual candlelight vigils every Friday in 2021, with Christian musicians, pastors, and speakers to lead us in praise and prayer as we seek to inspire a million prayers to solve our climate crisis. I believe God is already changing our hearts and motivating us to do what is necessary to solve our climate crisis, and I believe He will continue to bless us as we restore His good earth.”
You can learn more at millionprayermission.org