Spring break is generally seen as a mini-vacation from academic studies. For some college students, it is also another opportunity to serve others.
Nine students from the Wesley Center at Oklahoma City University and eight from the Wesley Foundation at the University of Central Oklahoma traveled to San Antonio during Spring Break 2010. They were led by two sisters who are Oklahoma clergywomen: Jennifer Long, OCU director of Religious Life, and Leslie Long, UCO campus minister.
These young people spent the week of March 14-20 working in small groups at a number of mission sites in the Texas city. They helped non-profit organizations that included Habitat for Humanity, Mission Road Developmental Center for people with mental disabilities, Sunrise Children’s Program, and a food bank.
Their time in San Antonio was coordinated by DOOR (Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection). This program began as a Mennonite mission outreach in Denver in 1986. It now operates in six cities across the United States. Goals are to expose people to the needs of urban areas; to challenge participants to consider biblical responses to issues of poverty, racism, and injustice; and to help them discover how their gifts can help meet those needs.
The response of the students from Oklahoma proved those goals were accomplished.
Kristia Ford, an OCU junior majoring in religion, described a poignant moment for her while she served at Catholic Worker House, which is a ministry to the homeless. "A man named Jim runs the place and feeds around 80 people breakfast and lunch every day," she said. "The people are homeless or have to choose between paying rent and feeding their family. I was amazed by the fellowship and community these people had.
|Mission team members pose with new friends at a mission site in San Antonio.
"I anticipated that I was going to minister to the people, but I fully believe they ministered more to me. It was a true blessing to realize that you can learn from anyone."
OCU senior Clayton Miller, a religion major, has been involved in a number of mission endeavors and looked forward to his experience in San Antonio. For three consecutive days, he was assigned tasks such as folding and mailing flyers. His group’s visit to a gardening site looked more promising—until he was assigned the task of weeding.
"I did not have fun," Miller said, "but I knew that my work was necessary and helpful."
Seeing a variety of needs and ways to respond to them expanded the world vision for these young people. They were inspired to continue such ministry in their own locations.
"We were all pushed out of our comfort zones" was the assessment of sophomore Alyssa Wardwell, also a religion major, "but it was in those moments where we saw God the most. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of something much larger than ourselves, which calls us to love unconditionally."