May 6, 2010
Oklahoma Baptist University students devote time each week to serve refugees in Oklahoma City through the Spero Project, an organization named for the Latin word for "hope." The refugees, who come from countries all over the world such as Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Eritrea, have been resettled into an apartment complex.
Spero Project — pronounced like "sparrow," the bird which is a symbol of hope — ministers to refugees every day. The program provides conversational English tutoring on Tuesdays, homework help four days a week, classes to develop skills that women can transfer into ways to help provide income for their families, and more.
"Spero Project assists them with language acquisition, job and interview skills, basic life skills and anything else they need," said Sara Scott, a senior from Harrah, Okla., who chairs the OBU Spero volunteer team. "We go on Thursday nights to provide tutoring, play with the kids and develop relationships with the families."
Oklahoma Baptist University students draw chalk pictures with children and find other ways to share God's love and hope as volunteers in the Spero Project refugee ministries.
OBU became involved in this project in April 2009 with the support of the Avery T. Willis Center for Global Outreach. A group of 10-15 OBU volunteers serve the refugees each week. The project was founded by OBU alum Brad Bandy, a 1998 graduate, and his wife, Kim. Bandy earned a bachelor's degree in cross-cultural ministry and anthropology from OBU.
"We feel a deep respect for the individuals and their families who have taken the long journey to arrive in America," Bandy said. "Being among the few who survive war, famine, torture and then gain International Refugee status, they deserve more than to simply arrive here ‘safe.' Rather, their perseverance and strength must be valued, engaged and developed into a force that changes their communities both here and in their home countries. After risking their lives for a future, the question to us is ‘what will come of that life?"
Spero Project is divided into four ministries: Resource, Legacy, Voice and Aspire. Each division has a clear mission and goal.
The Resource ministry is committed to providing assistance to those living in poverty, encouraging the local church to aid in an individual's development, both physically and spiritually, while responding to them with respect and compassion. Volunteers involved in this sector spend time with the food pantry and clothing center as well as praying for, and building relationships with, those in need.
|Sara Scott (left), an OBU senior from Harrah, Okla., pauses for a photo with her friend Nehaya, an international refugee involved in the Spero Project. Scott leads her classmates to minister to the refuges through the Oklahoma City program.|