Spring break gave Oklahoma Christian University students the opportunity to leave campus for a week. Some chose to spend their time serving others with Outreach or traveling with groups from local churches.
Senior Julia Nored went to Estes Park, CO, with Memorial Road Campus Ministry for four days. Nored said she went hiking, shopped downtown, played lots of card and board games, read a book and hung out with her friends.
“I wanted to go on this trip because the mountains are my favorite place,” Nored said. “I’ve been to Colorado before, and hiking there is simply breathtaking. Also, many of my friends were going on the trip, and I was very excited to get to spend spring break with them.”
According to Nored, the trip impacted her because it was a strong reminder of God’s amazing creation. She also said she made some new friends on the trip and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to have grown closer to them.
“Not only was I surrounded by beautiful scenery, I was also surrounded by beautiful people of God,” Nored said. “I think sometimes it’s easy for me to become adjusted to my surroundings and to forget the power and creativity of our God. Colorado was a blunt reminder of God’s overwhelming beauty, and I feel encouraged to look for that beauty in my everyday life.”
Outreach, Oklahoma Christian’s on-campus missions organization, offered four spring break options for students, including trips to Quinlan, TX; Marshall, IL; St. Louis, MO, and New Iberia, LA. Sophomore Kennah Foster joined the group going to St. Louis. She said the group was gone for almost the full week, and she spent the rest of her break resting and getting ahead on homework.
Foster said the group worked with the non-profit Mission St. Louis and helped out with North City Church of Christ, where they stayed during their trip.
“We helped Mission St. Louis by picking up trash in poorly-kept neighborhoods, connecting with a new campus ministry at the University of Missouri St. Louis, landscaping at the Greenwood Cemetery—the first African American non-sectarian cemetery for the St. Louis area—and cleaning up the building for Employment Connection,” Foster said. “We served at the North City Church of Christ by helping prepare for their after-school program and getting to work with the students that attended.”
According to Foster, she chose to go on this trip to put herself out of her comfort zone and meet new people while serving a poor community. She said she also wanted to learn more about intercity work and the community of St. Louis. Getting to see first-hand what it is like to live and be around such poverty-stricken areas in America was extremely impactful to her.
“Thi’sl Tyler, a worker at Mission St. Louis, said to us on Wednesday morning, ‘This is the hood, you’re in the hood. I’m sure no one’s told you that yet,’” Foster said. “Thi’sl was being honest to us for the first time since we’d gotten there, and I was dumbfounded. I guess being in Edmond, OK, for the past two years I had somehow forgotten how many people across America struggle daily with basic needs to survive. There wasn’t a place we went that someone didn’t ask us for money or food on the streets.
Working with the after-school program, I got to encounter four high school students who’d grown up in St. Louis. They all at one point talked about being associated with gangs, having guns of their own or even bragging about knocking someone out in a fight recently. These are all kids 17 years old and younger. My heart aches for these kids and all the people in our area of St. Louis who feel like this is the only choice for them.”
Foster said the work the North City Church of Christ is doing impacted her the most. The church congregation consists of 20 members, and Foster said they have an after-school program, a food bank and a disaster relief room, and they give away free clothes.
“When giving us a tour, deacon Tony stopped and told us, ‘We do everything here for our community. They don’t have to be a church member or come to anything, we’ll help anyone that needs it anytime,’” Foster said. “Can you imagine if every church lived by this motto? What a better world we’d have.”
A group of Oklahoma Christian students, including senior Brandon Thompson, went with Edmond Church of Christ to McAllen, TX.
Thompson said this was his first trip to McAllen with Edmond Church of Christ. The group was in McAllen from Sunday to Thursday and spent a couple of days in San Antonio on their way back to campus.
“Throughout the week, we all worked on numerous projects for the Iglesia de Christo church and the community,” Thompson said. “I was a part of a group that built a couple of walls to enclose a part of the church building. There were a lot of different projects at the church, including electricity as well as painting, and also groups that went to some of the church members’ houses and helped out there and got to know some of the families. Some people went and helped at one of the schools and played with the kids, and others did a VBS for the church as well.”
According to Thompson, he wanted to go on the McAllen trip because many people told him it was an awesome experience. He said he also wanted to get out of his comfort zone and help a community in need.
“This trip really opened my eyes,” Thompson said. “Most of the community down in McAllen have fewer material things than we do, but they worship like they have everything they could ever need. They were just grateful they had a place to gather and worship our Lord. It just reminded me that it doesn’t matter how much you have—all that matters is that you have Jesus and a group of people to go through life with worshiping our Lord and Savior to the best of our ability. God provides everything we could ever need, and the community in McAllen showed me that. It was truly life changing, and I can’t wait to go back next year.”