School years come to a close. Days lengthen. Temperatures rise. As summer approaches, many of us—students, parents, teachers—anticipate a change of pace and scenery, a new schedule, a new reading list. Programs at Tenth change as well, and Sunday evenings become an exciting ride. We feel a little like Aladdin, stretching out a hand in an invitation, offering—“I can show you the world…a whole new world.”
Now in our 12th year, Wide Open World (WOW) provides an opportunity for children, age 4 years through 6th grade, to glimpse our amazing world. Through hands-on activities we experience a tiny taste of the arts and crafts of other countries. Picture books allow us to see life through another’s eyes. Foods from other cultures give us a taste of life around the globe. We want to broaden and deepen our children’s appreciation for the inexhaustible variety of tastes, textures, sights, sounds, and smells, all of which reflect the beauty of the God who made them.
And yet, we desire for them a larger vision as well. This world, in all its beauty, groans under the weight of brokenness and evil. The effects of sin mar the image of God in every facet. It would be impossible to truly begin to see the world without becoming more aware of the great need that surrounds us on every side—oppression, poverty, war, and natural disaster; disease and death; pain and despair. In WOW our children begin to see these needs and are encouraged to participate in our Passport Program in order to share in a tiny way with those in great need. As they read, learn, and participate in cross-cultural experiences, the children may earn stamps for their passports, each stamp backed by one dollar from members of our congregation. By the end of the summer, through the work of the children and the generosity of donors, we are able to, as Romans 12:13 states, “contribute to the needs of the saints.”
These are blessed opportunities for our children, no doubt. But the needs are great and our abilities are small. How easy would it be for us to be moved to compassion only to fall into despair? Like the servant of Elisha (2 Kings 6:8–23) who saw a mighty force amassed against him on every side, we cry out “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” And like Elisha we pray, “Open our eyes that we might see that those who are with us are greater than those that are against us.” We long for our children to see the world as God sees it, a place in need of rescue. And we long for them to see God as he is—mighty to save!
This is why Wide Open World is more than a cultural experience. It is more than a service project. Our greatest desire is for our children’s hearts to be captured by love for our Savior, and our greatest purpose is to develop in our children, and ourselves, the heart of our Savior to seek and to save the lost. We encourage them to read stories of those throughout the ages who left family and friends to share the gospel in faraway lands. We learn directly from our own global partners who share with us what God has done and is doing in their lives. We worship through song in multiple languages to prick in our hearts a longing for the abundant worship that will one day exist in every language. We pray that from our midst God would be raising up another generation of His people for whom these words are true:
We go in faith, our own great weakness feeling,
And needing more each day thy grace to know:
Yet from our hearts a song of triumph pealing,
We rest on thee, and in thy name we go.
So what about you? What could your role be in this summer’s amazing adventure? Young people, please join us beginning June 11 at 6:30 pm in the Catacombs. Others, please consider supporting our passport program through prayer and a monetary donation. Offer your time as a helper. Meet and pray for our global partners. Ask God to show you the world. Ask God to open your eyes. Ask God to give you a new fantastic point of view.