So. Today I am speaking for a BIG 10 Minutes to a small group of people about my involvement with The Spero Project. (A local non-profit ministering to the under-resourced populations in Oklahoma City, specifically the refugee community). I got this text from Kim, the co-founder, she was really specific with her request and asked me to speak on:
“What the crafting co-op has meant to me and what I’ve learned.”
I thought I would start off by telling you how it all began.
3 years ago, Denver played a show for an organization called Keep It Local, here in Oklahoma City to benefit a “new” local non-profit, The Spero Project. I was invited through Facebook to attend. When I clicked on the “event” page to confirm my attendance, I saw a link posted for The Spero Project. So. I clicked. Curiously, I surfed around the site, and instantly my heart was drawn to their mission.
“Confronting injustice and oppression by mobilizing the Church to fully engage in a Biblical response to under-resourced populations.”
One morning, I happened to run an errand for my husband and I stopped in a local store, Shop Good to buy some tickets to a Charlie Hall cd release show. I walked in, lugging my giant infant carseat, ready to buy 2 tickets, when I met Audrey, one of the owners of Shop Good. We instantly hit it off (only because we were meant to be friends) she began telling me about The Spero Project. Every purchase made in Shop Good gives back locally or internationally, and the local non-profit they were currently supporting was The Spero Project. I knew that rang a bell, because Denver was playing a benefit show for them coming up… so she gave me more and more info on what they did and gave me an e-mail of one of the girls who helps coordinate volunteers.
I left Shop Good that warm morning, with e-mail in hand… not knowing the repercussions of that encounter. Later that day, I e-mailed Kelly (the name on the card) and met up with her the next week.
As we sat in a crowded Starbucks on a crowded Friday morning she asked:
Kelly: “Do you know what a refugee is?”
Me: “Do we have refugees in Oklahoma!?”
Kelly: “Yes. Do you know where Burma is?”
Me: “Wait….We. Have. Refugees. In. Oklahoma. ?”
Kelly: “Yes…from Burma, Russia, Iraq, Afganistan, the Congo, Kenya, Jordan, Iran….. Can you come next week to our crafting co-op? Wednesday night at 7:00.”
Thoughts started pouring into my head (Wait, Wednesday night? I will have my kids. Alone. And…7:00… that’s around bedtime….no. way. can. I. do. this.)
Me: “Can I bring my kids?”
Kelly: “They would LOVE for you to bring your kids”
Me: “I will be there….”
I got into the car that morning, unsure of what I had committed to, but I knew it was right. The next week I met the women and community that would change my life. An entire community full of families: men, women, and children affected by war, genocide, religious persecution… within 10 miles from my doorstep. I saw families who had children snatched out of their homes to fight war; families that spent years in the jungle displaced because of war; families that had to pack 1 suitcase in a matter of minutes to leave the only life they ever knew because of war… Families who were oppressed, children who were fatherless, women who were widowed… because of injustice. Isaiah 1:17 fleshed out.
I began to be involved in the refugee crafting co-operative through The Spero Project. Women, sitting in a circle, on the floor, sewing, cutting, gluing, crafting… And through the work of our hands relationships were forged that went deeper than language, a love was developed that was carved in my heart so hard it will never leave, a respect grew that exceeds all the mountains in my life, and friendship that knows no cultural boundaries. I am humbled by these women who I have sat with for 3 years, women from Burma, from Thailand, from Jordan, from Russia. I am thankful for their children, who have played with my children, who have held my babies, who have braided my daughter’s hair and made my sons laugh.
|After having my 3rd baby, the girls insisted I have a native Burmese wrap to carry my babies in. I have yet to master the native art of “baby wearing” but Zadie sure enjoys it!|
As I reflect on the question “What the crafting co-op has meant to me, and what I have learned” words cannot express rapid beating in my heart, the swelling of my soul and the tingling in my eyes. The tears shed, the nights I have lied in bed asking “why God?” on their behalf, the embarrassment I have bore because of our self-absorbed American culture, and the indignation I have felt towards a church that have looked over this population… no words can express these emotions that rise up in me. No words can express the gratitude rooted in my soul, or the joy I feel after being with my community.
I did it because I was called, I do it because I love.
|Kim-chee is from Burma. She came to our most recent Christmas craft co-operative. She has been in the US for under a year.|
|War Gay is Karen, she is from Burma and has been doing work for the crafting co-op since it’s creation. Her work is meticulous and all hand done. She embroiders most of the clothing and Tom’s that we have done.|
Today I read Ezekiel 17:22-24
Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of it’s branches. Yes. Yes, they will.
I encourage you to say yes to obedience, and let that direct your path. Your path will not be my own. Maybe it is allowing your widowed grandmother to live with your family, serving the homeless, visiting a nursing home or helping a non-profit in your local church community. Whatever it is be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s nudge, and don’t allow your family to be an excuse, but invite your children to serve alongside you. Hold their hand, walk with them into ministry, talk about needs of people in front of your children, encourage their questions, and give them SAFE and controlled opportunities to serve. Sometimes their innocence, laughter and their smile can break barriers and bring peace to those in need the most.
Here are some projects our co-op has done through the years.