“We pay a price when we deprive children of the exposure to the values, principles, and education they need to make them good citizens.” – Sandra Day O’Connor – Supreme Court Justice
My mother was a school teacher, and a former City accountant. She was the first in our family to graduate from college and held a high value for education of all types. Exposing me to all kind of things and people was high on her priority list. We traveled to other cities and even a few countries by car, train, bus, and plane. We visited the Atlantic ocean yearly. She took me to broadway plays, musicals and concerts, to the ballet, museums, and her yearly class trip to the Philadelphia Zoo. I traveled abroad to England. The Quaker school I attended was filled with students and teachers of all ethnicities, social classes, genders, and religions. EXPOSURE, in this case meaning the state of experiencing or in contact with something or someone, was something that I took for granted.
Last Sunday, The Warehouse Church held the first of three Summer Worship events in Cincinnati’s Washington Park. CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS! It is a combination worship service, festival, and community meal. Last week, as I listened to the news, a woman was bemoaning the rising cost of gas and food. When asked how she would cope, she said “I’ll have to stop self-care and doing things with my kids.” Sometimes when people minister in the inner city, they think only of the homeless. But there are more low-to-moderate income families, many headed by single mothers, who are struggling to make ends meet and do not have the means to do quality things with their children over the Summer. The Over The Rhine community in which we’re located is multi-ethnic, intergenerational, and multi-class and so is our Church. One of the most hope-filled parts of doing this event is watching families from all ethnicities and classes experience what we offer together.
This was the first time we’ve had a petting zoo and pony rides, and it was a hit! I thought it would be likely that many neighborhood children would not have been exposed to live farm animals. I wasn’t expecting that their parents and grandparents, some over 50 years old, had never seen a real camel, llama, goat, etc. One man was so terrified to pet the goat and asked me to please do it first. I thought, wow…exposure is everything.
Genesis 12:1-3 tells us that God blessed Abraham and his seed in order to bless all of the families of the earth. Some American ministries limit that blessing to the basics: food, clothing, shelter, and maybe transportation. These are needed and many groups do a wonderful job providing essentials to the glory of God! At the Warehouse Church, OTR, we believe that spiritual transformation comes through the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and a loving community—but often, natural transformation comes by the power of exposure to new people and things. It broadens your perspective on what’s possible. We want the preached and demonstrated Good News to have the poor dreaming of what could be, experiencing things beyond their imagination, and seeing God’s view of their value. Riding. a pony, winning a prize, getting a specially made balloon…are experiences that when added together, show God’s love, that His people care, and that there may be more beyond the mundanity of the life being lived. So, as you notice folks struggling to make ends meet this Summer, maybe there’s something you can do to relieve some pressure. Offer an experience of exposure for their family.