The first words that may come to mind when thinking about the words “United States of America,” are freedom and opportunity. While some people are blessed to live in a country like this, some may find this is where they move to make their dreams come true, while others are forced to leave their home country to escape war, persecution and things that harm not only harm their country but a family. These people are known as Refugee’s. A special organization in Oklahoma City help serving and loving on the oppressed.
“Spero Project is a nonprofit organization whose main mission is to encourage the church of Oklahoma City to engage in serving and loving the oppressed”, said Zoya Timoshenko, co-chair for Spero Project for OBU ministries. “They have many different projects. The particular project that the OBU ministry team is working with is called the Common.”
As spero has different branches of service there is always a way to get involved and help out. OBU offers every Thursday to go, they meet at Montgomery around 4:50 p.m. and head out around 5:00 pm. to OBU’s branch of Spero.
“OBU Spero team goes once a week to the living location of refugees. For the most part, we teach beginner English to those that do not speak or know it well”, Timoshenko said. “If there are not enough students during that week, which sometimes happens because they may be working or busy with other family activities, we play with kids of the parents who are more advanced in English and go to the official English class provided by the Spero organization on Thursday nights.”
Senior Dani Ingle, has been participating in Spero and has learned what the meaning behind being a refugee is.
“Before Spero, I never really knew about refuges. When I did hear or see the world “refugees”, I always seemed to brush it aside because I didn’t know much about them. But because of Spero, it has changed my views of who refugees are. They are regular people just like you and me, but everything has been taken away from them. Because of that, they need help. “Love each other as I have loved you” (John 15:12). Helping others shows kindness and hope, but it also displays the love of God,” said Ingle.
As multiple OBU students have been taught the true meaning of being a refugee, there is still more to learn. It’s important sometimes to step outside of those walls we build.
“Spero has does an incredible job at engaging the Oklahoma City community to step outside their comfort zones and help people in need no matter their social status, ethnicity, or religious views,” said Timoshenko. “I would encourage everyone who has a passion for loving people and social justice to visit with Spero. They have incredible programs in reaching people in need in Oklahoma City.”
As OBU students like Timoshenko, they get to help the refugee’s in teaching them English, but there are still many needs that have to be provided to those refugee’s in need.
“Mainly for the refugees I would say financial support and other resources. Spero has a project called the Network in which professionals and people with other resources like cars and times can offer their services for the refugee,” Timoshenko said. “For instance, a dentist can offer a free checkup for a family or a college student can offer to drive a pregnant mother to her checkup appointment. Anyone can sign up and there is always a need for help.”
Just like Dani Ingle said, Christians are called to serve and love each other. Timoshenko has the same views.
“I believe that as humans we are required to care for each other’s in order to make the world a better and to live a fulfilling life. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?'” If you call yourself a Christian, the urgency for this is even greater. Jesus Himself called us to care for people and demonstrated it.”
As refugee’s could be considered a hot topic right now, Timoshenko encourages others to put yourself in their shoes.
“I realize that refugees are kind of a hot button issue in politics right now. But I would really encourage every single person to meet a refugee that has fled their country recently before they make any personal political choices about refugees. These are people. This could be your family. You could be the one having to flee your country because your government is trying to kill you or perhaps your faith is not the ‘correct one,’” said Timoshenko. “I know you are not, but meet someone who has and walk in their shoes for a mere couple hours as they recall their stories to you. You will see the fear in their eyes as they explain to you the journey through the woods as they had to hide from the radical groups chasing after them.”
As its important to help and serve others, a statement from Ingle is a statement that explains the meaning of Spero.
“Spero means hope. Hope is what we can bring to the refugees. Hope for a new beginning. Hope for new friends. Hope for a job. But ultimately, Spero helps refugees by finding that their hope is in Jesus Christ.”