Have you ever wondered about prisons? What’s it like deciding to build one in your town? How do you decide how big it should be? It’s a depressing thought to consider the worst-case scenario for members of your community and the deep consequences and pain of a potentially destructive future. What’s even more depressing is that sociologists tell us prospective prison inmates can often be predicted as early as eight years old. This prediction is not based on a complicated algorithm or complex series of charts, one of the major defining elements is so simple, in fact it’s right under our noses; reading. It has been shown across our country that literacy literally keeps people out of prison. There are city planners who actually decide how big to build their prisons based on the literacy rate of their third graders – this is the predictor, reading.
Thousands of our city’s kids live in single-parent, or no-parent homes, sleep on couches in over crowded apartments, and rarely ever have a book read to them. Many are also struggling with English as a second language, making the obstacles even greater. Our churches and schools banded together this month to do something about the future of the children in Costa Mesa, and we called it “Spring Reading.” We purchased and delivered hundreds of copies of Alice in Wonderland, recruited volunteers to read the book to third and fourth graders during a school hour for six weeks, and at the end invited each student to the play for free. It’s been one more huge step in an unprecedented collaboration between our educators and our faith community. It’s been one more way for Jesus followers to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a fragile, hurting world. Jesus shares His mission in Luke 4:18-19, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Good news to the poor, freedom for prisoners… This week, for us, that looks like celebrating with three, full-production presentations of the play “Alice in Wonderland” at The Crossing Church. Many of our students will have read their first book and be holding a free ticket to a professional play for the first time in their lives. If you’re anywhere near us this week, come and join them, along with our family of faith, as we express God’s heart for our city!
There are three dates available to purchase tickets for, June 20 and 21 at 7pm, and June 23 at 1pm. Performances are at the Crossing Church, and all the proceeds go to offset the free admission for the kids in the spring reading program. Get tickets here: eventbrite