Rich Gower and Abi Thomas are co-hosts and co-producers of The Hopeful Activists’ Podcast

Climate change is no longer a problem of the future – it’s affecting us right now. I (Rich) live in a valley outside Sheffield, and we have seen significantly more flooding over the last few years. We also know that it’s set to get worse: according to research in the Lancet, 59% of young people aged 16-25 are very or extremely worried about climate change and 75% believe that the future is “frightening”.

How do we find hope amidst this crisis?

Rich Gower

When we were researching our recent book The Hopeful Activist, Shane Claiborne said the following to us: “What does it mean that at the centre of our faith is a victim of violence, a brown-skinned refugee, born in a manger because there was no room in the inn? Everything about Jesus shows us the solidarity of God with those who are suffering and marginalised, and it’s an invitation to lean in – as God has – to the pain and suffering of the world.”

However tempting it is to look the other way, we are called to engage. In fact, discerning where God is calling us as individuals to invest our time and love is one of the things that can bring us hope in anxious times.

When I’m struggling with this, I find it helpful to think about a ‘transformation triangle’:
• Our worldview: the stories we tell ourselves about who we are and why we’re here
• Our praxis: how we put this into practice
• The community that we do this with

My ultimate hope is for the future restoration and renewal of all things, when everything that is broken will be made right

As a Christian, I feel that I know the end of the story – my ultimate hope is for the future restoration and renewal of all things, when everything that is broken will be made right. Jesus has made this restoration possible and is working towards it right now. This is what I’m praying for when I say ‘Your Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven!’ and it encompasses four broken relationships: with God, with each other, with creation, and with ourselves. This is the story within which I live.

Abi Thomas

Taking action (praxis) on each of these four broken relationships helps me stay hopeful.

Let’s start with connecting to creation: get outside! The emotional and physical benefits of being outside are well documented. It’s a great place for conversations about the planet and connecting with local wildlife. Planting seeds and litter-picking are great, but nature is also an amazing playground.

Play releases endorphins, connects us to one another and reduces anxiety, whatever our age – at 41 I (Abi) am still climbing trees.

Connect to yourself – or as activist and author Brian McLaren calls it, cultivate your own “inner ecology”. There is so much anger and chaos in the world around us, it is vital to nurture our own nervous systems. I find playing music really helpful. Contemplation and other spiritual practices can help us all to slow down and ground ourselves. They also enable us to connect to God.

To remain hopeful in a world facing a climate crisis, we must spend time with the source of all hope

And that’s the most important thing: we’ve interviewed over 150 Christians who are taking action for justice, for the Hopeful Activists’ Podcast. A golden thread running through these activists’ stories is the primary importance of spending time with Jesus. To remain hopeful in a world facing a climate crisis, we must spend time with the source of all hope.

Connect with others: I (Abi) live in the inner-city, but we are blessed with a beautiful park at the end of our street, cared for by a group of mostly retired volunteers. Finding a community of others who care, and with whom you can share your concerns, is something we all need in these difficult times.

As Shane told us, “The way that you put out a campfire, is you scatter the coals …That’s why community is so essential. If you are just a little candle, you can be blown out by the wind, but a fire is actually fuelled by the wind. When the winds come, it only makes the fire stronger.”

• Rich Gower is co-author, together with Rachel Walker, of The Hopeful Activist: Discovering the vital change you were made to bring, published in May 2024 by SPCK.
• Abi Thomas is the host and producer of the Hopeful Activists’ Podcast, which she launched alongside Rich in 2019.