Then God said: “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth,and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” — Genesis 1:26
From the very beginning of time we were given the responsibility of tending to this beautiful place called Earth! Some say we’ve taken that responsibility for granted while others seek a way to improve its breaking state.
On November 8 1993 in Atteridgeville, Pinky Ketswaretswe Mpho Leah Junior Mokwena was born. Moving to the North West province in 2008, she matriculated at Molebatsi High school — moving on to complete a B-Tech degree (Cum Laude) at the Tshwane University of Technology.
On October 6 2018 at the Montecasino Ballroom, Johannesburg, she had a dream come true when she was crowned second runner up (Miss Earth -Water) in the Miss Earth South Africa Pageant after six long months.
Being someone who is passionate about conservation of the environment, Mokwena saw her crowning as a Miss Earth princess as a doorway to new possibilities — a bigger platform to spread her ideas and heart for tending to the environment, as well as to witness to Christians and those who still need to be recruited to the faith.
Being a young woman, Mokwena shows us that no one is “too young” to make a difference or play a part in the turnaround of our nation, continent or even planet. Think of all the great things we could accomplish if we all had a community attitude to tending to our land!
I asked Mokwena to answer a few questions about her Christian walk and her new title:
1. What motivated you to enter Miss Earth ?
As a qualified Environmental Scientist, I have always had an inexplicable desire to make the practice of environmental care and sustainability not only limited to qualified conservationists and experts in the field, but also to the broader communities and societies that wouldn’t normally be exposed to it.
The Miss Earth South Africa programme provided the kind of platform I needed to do so, and it gave me the opportunity to be connected to other young women who are passionate about the same goal — achieving sustainability as a collective.
2. How would you describe your Miss Earth journey?
If I could use one word to describe my Miss Earth South Africa journey it would be “holistic”.
It has been such a full endeavour and nothing about it has been redundant or unnecessary. We got to interact with communities from all sorts of backgrounds.
I love that we were taught to never disdain any of our engagements with the public, be it through a tree planting ceremony with preschool kids, a presentation on waste reduction with high schoolers, a community clean-up with corporate citizens, a visit to an old age home, or a vegetable garden planting with university students.
This journey has opened my eyes to my role as an environmental leader, and embracing this role has enabled me to spread the knowledge even more and empower others to be more aware of their roles in being good stewards of the Earth and the natural environment.
3. What aspects of your faith do you think helped you along his journey?
Prayer has been the most important aspect of my journey because, through it, I was always able to ensure that I am in tune with God’s purpose for my life in this season.
4. What made you fall in love with Jesus?
His pursuit of my heart and promise of freedom — from death, pressures, legalism, fear, and other life-threatening heart diseases — was the peak of my response. Reading the Bible and learning of His heart for humanity has also truly disabled me from hardening my heart against Him, or denying my personal need for Him.
5. Growing up, how was your family faith environment?
In my early childhood, my family were Christians, but after tragedy struck (the death of two generations of women — my mother and grandmother in the space of a few months), my great grandparents were so hurt they walked away from the faith.
In my early teens, I made a personal decision to accept Christ as my Lord and Saviour, and it is such a blessing how that decision inspired my great-grandmother to do the same (a few years after me).
Our family has experienced more deaths than births, and this hard history has led us to greater hope in God than we have ever had. His promise of eternal life is really the kind of narrative we needed to free ourselves from the fear of death that had tormented us for years.
6. How do you plan on using your faith and title to impact the nation?
For me, the title provides an elevated position of what I have always been doing before it was there. It allows for me to reach an even greater audience and influence the people that were initially not in my reach.
This is a special blessing, which I intend to use to further promote environmental cognisance within the communities, and inspire more people to be intentional about their response to nature and all the glories God has placed in it.
7. What advice would you give a young person who is wanting to do something similar to you?
My all-time advice to anyone is this: “Be authentic and true to who you are, and your unique light will open doors for you that are relevant to your unique purpose. God has handpicked you to fulfil a predestined purpose that He has set specifically for you. We lose out on the wonder of who we are when we neglect to truly be ourselves.”
8. What do you have to say to those who are already passionate about the Christian faith and those who are struggling to get their feet off the ground as Christians?
I believe that the faith walk is not a checklist type of journey. We can never truly say we have reached the stride and we have made it.
With that, let us not grow weary of living out our faith with intentionality, and trusting the Lord to guide us into His glorious promise of hope and true freedom.
As one of my favorite authors, Ann Voskamp would say: “When the terrible times come, ours is to trust the Lord. In the silent times, ours is to seek Him. In the painful times, to praise Him. And at all times, to thank Him.”
The practice of gratitude keeps us open to what He is doing in our lives, and through neglecting it, we only deepen the wound of the world.
Let us not forget the words of our national anthem — “God bless Africa”.