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Restoring Communities and Changing Lives

Written by Meredith Madison

In April of 2020, Oklahoma Christian University became affiliated with the organization Restore OKC. Ever since, the university’s ResLife groups have sent individuals to volunteer and help the Oklahoma City community. 

Resident Director of Gunn Henderson, Mackenna King, explained what Restore is about and what it is doing for the community.

Restore is an organization based on helping the community thrive and building resources for them as well,” King said. “They work with three different school systems, where they focus on helping their teachers  feel needed and valued in their schools.”

King went on to explain how Oklahoma Christian got involved with Restore.

“A year or two ago, Candace Bass got in contact with the woman who is in charge of Restore and before we opened it up to students, the faculty and staff got together  to learn about their program and ways to get involved. Then, it grew into a ResLife event to do in the dorms and apartments to get us all together.” 

Restore not only provides food to the community within the organization, but it also supplies food to those in the surrounding area. 

“There’s a community garden where they grow fresh fruits and vegetables which they supply to the local grocery store, and the rest of the community can come and pick from it as well,” King said.

The difference lending a hand to others enacted by the work at Restore is something that struck King as empowering and kingdom-oriented.

“Being a part of something where you can see the difference it’s making is just empowering,” King said. “To work with your hands and to know what you’re doing is helping somebody in need, it’s like bringing kingdom work to the community. It’s hard to not see God working through us whenever we’re helping others in need.” 

For Junior Tyler Dollarhide, his experience volunteering with Restore helped him realize helping others shouldn’t be seen as a chore, but as a blessing.  

“Going out and helping isn’t a chore, it helps you as a person. It’s something you can do which helps other people,” Dollarhide said.

Through working with Restore, volunteers received many opportunities to meet others, which is something Dollarhide highlighted as one of his favorite parts of volunteering.  

Restore is a lot of fun. You do a lot of different activities and get to meet a lot of different people,” Dollarhide said. 

Patrick Bakley, Resident Director of Phase Three, explained how mission efforts are often done and then quickly forgotten. Yet with Restore, this beautiful mission never truly ends. 

“I often see missions kick up dust more than anything else. I’ve seen missions enter an area, stir things up, bring the people hope, and then never set long lasting roots,” Bakley said. “Follow up is rarely done, and the mission dies as quickly as it began. Restore OKC does not fit that mold. They set deep roots and continue to grow, serve and make a positive impact long after the volunteers leave. It is a beautiful thing to see.” 

Bakley explained how mission work does not always have to be in foreign countries, but rather, can occur right where we are.  

“The idea to serve and be missionally-minded means needing to travel hours or days away from home, and is a concept which is not only outdated, but is also highly misinformed and problematic,” Bakely said. 

According to Bakley, we should be looking for ways to implement mission work into our everyday lives.

“Mission can be right next door, such as helping your local school, improving the quality of life for your neighbor, creating opportunity in your district, picking up trash around the neighborhood and so much more,” Bakley said.

ResLife continues to partner with Restore OKC every second Saturday of the month They encourage Oklahoma Christian students, staff and faculty to get involved when they can.

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