Congratulations to the 2015 Photo Contest "Becoming Native" winners!


1st Place: Katherine Koning - $500 prize

2nd Place: Julia Holleman - $250 prize

People's Choice: Ryan Marx - $100 prize


We would like to thank each photo contest participant for their submission! Below you will find the winner's photo entry and essay.


1st Place: Katherine Koning

When God created the world, He didn’t only create the resources necessary for life, such as water and food. Instead, God created detailed, beautiful, awe-inspiring pieces of creation that reflect His glory and His love. God didn’t just create springs; He created hot springs with the colors of a rainbow. God didn’t just make land; he created different altitudes with wonderful characteristics specific to each. God created the world.

This hot spring, a smaller version of Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, and the mountains behind it are definitely “native,” if referring to the fact that they have been there since God created them. They are immovable and impossible to be invasive to an environment because they can’t be moved.

But, are the hot springs and the mountains native in the sense that they belong here? Are they necessary or even beneficial? Do these two, very different, things add to the quality of the world or the lives of the people who visit them? The answer is different depending on the person. Some may think they are beautiful, but don’t change their lives. Other people think differently about them. When some Christians see the colors of the rainbow in this hot spring they think about the sign of the rainbow that God gave Noah. Saying this, it is important to note that the colors are caused by thermophilic bacteria. The amount of bacteria and what bacteria can survive changes as the distance from the center greatens, so the colors change with the bacteria. It is amazing that some bacteria can survive at such a high temperature and cause an artistic effect while doing so.

The colors are awe-inspiring for everyone, Christian or not. This ecosystem would be impossible without a creator. The leader of the first federallyfunded exploration of what became Yellowstone, Ferdinand Hayden, wrote: “Nothing ever conceived by human art could equal the peculiar vividness and delicacy of color of these remarkable prismatic springs. Life becomes a
privilege and a blessing after one has seen and thoroughly felt these incomparable types of nature’s cunning skill.” This explorer certainly thought that the springs changed 1 him. Even if the spring makes life seem like a blessing, the question is whether this makes the spring count as native.

The beauty of the prismatic springs makes us more grateful toward God and towards being alive. Do these feelings of gratitude make us more “at home” in this world? The feeling of being alive gives us the ability to love our surroundings. The questions are: What do we do and feel out of our gratitude to respond to the beauty and being alive? Does it make us more “at home” in this world? If we feel more at home will we be more likely to pursue our Godgiven calling? God made us in His image for a purpose (Ephesians 2:10); our response to being native is to do what the spring and mountains are doingbenefiting
the world and reflecting God’s majesty.

1"History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian." History, Travel, Arts, Science,
People, Places | Smithsonian . N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Oct. 2015.


2nd Place: Julia Holleman

 "Raindrops on a Rose of Sharon"

“Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.” I Corinthians 4: 2.

I love this picture for its bright color contrast of the crisp, magenta flower against the dark, green leaves, and the multiple blurred flowers growing in the background. The stars of the scene, however, are the clear, cool raindrops repelled by the petals and slowly sliding down to the ground. The church of God, as declared in Song of Solomon 2: 1 is a Rose of Sharon among thorns.

The Rose of Sharon is not native to America, but to Asia. However, it can be considered ‘native’ in the sense that it fits with the rest of American nature. It thrives and is truly part of the wildlife oikos system: the rabbits dig their burrows underneath the bush, the spiders weave their webs in its branches, the hummingbirds drink its nourishing juice, and the bees enjoy spreading its pollen. One can see in this photo the flower gladly receiving the refreshing, nourishing rain. This rose certainly shamars and abads in creation.

We too shamar and abad with one purpose: to praise God’s glorious name. Our natural, old man of sin is a horribly ugly weed, but Christ has washed us and made us bright, colorful flowers in his sight. He made us ‘native’ to him through Christ the mediator when he saw and pronounced us perfect and forever his own. One of the ways we flower is by being Christian stewards, beginning with understanding God’s creation. He made the earth for his own glory, so we must praise him for that. Since God’s creation is really a reflection of himself, we are called to faithfully care for and treat it with heartfelt, loving respect. We are not the owners, but merely the creatures God has entrusted to watch over and preserve creation.

People respond to creation differently from the animals, plants, and all living organisms. Animals and plants view this flower simply as food, a possible home, or as a resting place. But Christians behold this flower and first stand in awe of God’s marvelous work. Secondly, we tend to and nourish this flower and all of creation as Adam did the Garden of Eden.

However, because of the curse of sin, we face growing environmental threats, such as air pollution, water spoilage, soil contamination, and chemical harm to the surrounding plants, animals, and people. Of course, humans cannot eliminate all pollutions, but we can avoid such things as littering, and support legislation that controls pollution.

Christians are reminded that the earth’s increasing degradation is a sign that the end of time is drawing near. God is working the decay of his creation to his will, and ultimately will destroy this old earth with fire. He then will create a new world where all creatures will shamar and abad perfectly.

“Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” 2 Peter 3: 13


Whelchel, Hugh. "Four Principles of Biblical Stewardship." Institute for Faith, Work and Economics. N.p., Nov. 2012. Google. Web. 9 Oct. 2015. .

"Rose of Sharon." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Google. Web. 12 Oct. 2015.

"Rose of Sharon." Tree Guide. Arbor Day Foundation, n.d. Google. Web. 12 Oct. 2015. .


People's Choice: Ryan Marx

The Little Stream

This little stream is hidden away from the human world and its conflicts, yet never from God’s watchful eye. It provides water to the life depending on it–the forest surrounding it. Small, and seemingly powerless, it casually flows down the mountain
into its river. But it is not meaningless in any way.

Located distantly, and hidden in the forests of the remote northwest United States, this tiny brook flows. It gives the life-saving resource of water to any who wish to take from it. The creatures of God’s Earth lap from it. The image shows the green around it, the nature that continues because of this stream. This is one of the uncountable gifts God has given through his creation.  God’s provision has accounted this little stream to be so important to the rest of this ecosystem. It is far away from any thought of any digital world, hidden by the trees and the plants. Something so unnoticed, and yet so important.

Without it, these plants  would wither and die. They would yearn for any rain that might come. The animals would leave, in search of other waters from which to take. But God is all knowing, even to the mind how this little stream can be vital to His creation. It is far away from the throng of people moving about this world, but it still flows. It has motion, and it joins the mighty roar of the Salmon River. Without it, and the millions of other little streams like it, the river would not exist.

This little stream provides for the plants, animals and participates in the powerful forces of rivers and oceans. But it also provides for God’s final creation. Plants and animals are not the only creatures to benefit from this tiny little stream. Not far from where this photograph was taken is a couple who look after a small ranch–a collection of log cabins and an air strip. This stream provides them with clean drinking water and even power. A small hydro-powered generator gives this couple and any guests power to see, and to cook, and to live.

This little stream, though hidden from the masses, and unimportant to many, provides for life and processes great importance in the ecosystem that God built.