Upon graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980, I dreamed of writing for National Geographic. God had a different plan.
Honing editing and writing skills with several newspapers while searching for a greater purpose eventually led me to the Adventist message, working in ministry, and ultimately publishing Creation Illustrated magazine. Readers have called this “the Christian answer to National Geographic!”—dreams and prayers fulfilled.
Not so fast. This journey started during rebellious teenage years working and recreating outdoors, professional ski patrolling, cycling across the United States, touring Europe with a backpack, and yearning to share my heartfelt awe of nature. Nearly two decades of regular exposure to God’s creation unknowingly planted seeds in every furrow of my soul to rescue me from transcendental meditation and evolutionary teachings—a process of re-creation.
Nature’s balm continued to apply deep, soothing restoration through watercolor painting while closely examining the wonders of God’s handiwork. Committed to serving God as a team, my wife, Jennifer, and I realized that people of all ages, churched and unchurched, need the same getaway to nature and creation—to behold His wonders and to be transformed. Hence, Creation Illustrated launched in 1993 to provide readers a balance of mental, spiritual, and physical enrichment that leads to restoration and inspires worship of the Creator—the first angel’s message.
Soon Christian educators in schools and homeschools embraced Creation Illustrated as a teaching tool. The study guide included in each quarterly edition helped them glean facts, research, and Scripture from articles, but even more so the transformational character-building object lessons. Why? Because this is Christ’s method of teaching eternal truths through the things He made. “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables, . . . ‘things kept secret from the foundation of the world’” (Matt. 13:34, 35).
For example, the plants created on day three contain a factory that takes in the bad (carbon dioxide) and gives off the good (oxygen) that we depend on for every breath we breathe. Astoundingly, that day the Creator also designed the implement of His torture—the tree upon which He was crucified—to also take in all the bad on earth (sin) and give off only good (eternal life). Furthermore, Scripture reveals the green leaves are for the healing of the nations (cf. Rev. 22:2). And as if that were not enough, our bodies are designed to ingest plant leaves which eventually turn to blood, muscle, and bone cells to sustain our health.
That’s three powerful Creation object lessons in one short paragraph. Imagine the wealth of wisdom, scientific facts, and spiritual enrichment packed into 110 editions illustrated with stunning images. Now add more than a dozen downloadable creation unit studies that focus on one creature or aspect of creation, with lessons in history, science, Bible study, geography, math, art, and activities. Quickly teachers, parents, and students respond with favor.
“The unit studies and magazines exhibit high scientific standards that support Scripture. This material is used throughout the curriculum,” wrote Marian Baker of the Wyoming Valley Seventh-day Adventist Elementary School, Pennsylvania, who (along with more than 3,500 Adventist schools and teachers in the North American Division) receives a free print and digital subscription and quarterly unit studies funded by donations and grants to our nonprofit ministry.
Why is Creation education so vital? Many youth leave the church after academy and high school. Some of the reason appears to be exposure to evolutionary teaching at the college level.1 Technology and social media addiction also rob students of nature exposure, leading to depression, poor fitness, and even suicide. Yet a University of Michigan study demonstrates that just one hour a day of nature exposure (in person or in print) increases memory by 20 percent!2
Prisoners surrounded by cement and steel also suffer from “nature-deficit disorder.” Pallets of donor-funded copies of Creation Illustrated reach prison ministries to share in gift bags with profound transformational impact. “As far as I’m concerned, that magazine was the best item in that bag. I read every word, and the pictures are amazing. I love how it explains nature and how it relates to God and all He created,” wrote Connie R. from the Dayton Correctional Institution in Ohio. “I have a hard time comprehending sometimes, but this magazine was easy to read and learn from.” Weekly requests from prisoners for more copies reveal their desire to become a new creation in Christ Jesus.
A universal attraction to nature makes Creation Illustrated easy to share. Retired nuclear chemistry professor Ivan Holmes, who taught at Andrews and La Sierra universities and helped launch the Origins academic publication with the Geoscience Research Institute at Loma Linda University, told us that Creation Illustrated fills a great need because it is for everybody and is a top-quality publication worth sharing.
Other businesses and hospitals use Creation Illustrated to reach community members of all faiths and backgrounds. “Creation Illustrated is the only magazine we allow in our banks,” insists Denzil McNeilus of Sterling State Bank in Minnesota, who gives a gift subscription to around 100 employees for the holidays. Other denominations also utilize the publication. One Baptist minister bought 15 special-edition back issues on the seven days of Creation to give to his Sunday School teachers for use in their classes.
The bottom line? At Creation Illustrated we herald that God is still the Creator. He can create in each of us a new heart instantly. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
Perhaps E. J. Waggoner said it best in his 1893 book called The Gospel in Creation. “The gospel, then, is simply the creative power of God applied to men. Any gospel that leaves creation out, or which does not preach the creative power of God, as seen in the things that He has made . . . is another gospel, which is simply no gospel at all, since there can be no other.”3
You and I are the greatest evidence of Creation! There is nothing more powerful than the testimony of a transformed life. It cannot be disputed. There is just no debate.
Tom Ish is editor and publisher of Creation Illustrated magazine, based in Spokane, Washington, and can be found at WorshipOurCreator.com/ar.