The Spero Project

By Devin Swank, Partnership Coordinator

Spero = Latin word for, “to hope”

As we get closer to the summer, we wanted to highlight another organization Next Step partners with: the Spero Project. This is an organization that does some fantastic work in the south downtown area of Oklahoma City. Starting in 2009, Spero began as a resource to community groups. Their passion for loving and standing beside their neighbors quickly led way to a fully functioning nonprofit. Working with a large population of international refugees in the community, the Spero Project seeks ways to overcome barriers that inhabit people from getting a job or seeking further education. The work they do as an organization is inspired by the way the Bible calls us to be the Church, not as a building, but as a community of believers that do life with one another day after day.

While this organization has tremendous impact, Next Step partners with them in a slightly different way. The devout believers that work at Spero take what they teach and live it out in their personal lives. They themselves desire to be in neighborhoods that allow them to build relationships with people that most of the world would avoid: drug dealers, prostitutes, addicts, and gang members. These different groups of people are definitely not your typical neighbors. But in a world that is constantly hurting, the people of Spero desire to see transformation happen in the lives of these people they consider their neighbors and friends.

With God’s direction at the forefront of everything they do, Spero seeks out neighborhoods that have been oppressed due to a variety of reasons. After securing a few houses in an area, multiple families move into this area and begin doing life together with the intentional purpose of bringing light into a darkened community. Their first neighborhood was given the name “The Jungle” by city police. It had the highest amount of 911 calls in the city for multiple years. Five years later, the community is now flourishing with young families, while crime and violence has gone down significantly. Neighbors host block parties where stories are swapped as well as homemade household goods such as leather, food, and soaps. The community relies on one another and is eager to bring new neighbors in. It just goes to show the power of the Church in even the darkest communities.

Next Steps role within all of this, is to aid in the restoration of the homes located within these neighborhoods. Sometimes that looks like gutting out a house so that a fresh start can begin. Other times it looks like rebuilding and renewing homes that will be instrumental in Spero’s next neighborhood. All in all it has been a blessing to see the practicality of the gospel portrayed in the everyday life of those who work for Spero Project and are involved in the neighborhoods they are invested in. The simple yet very effective approach of this organization has brought many people into their community and, even more importantly, into a relationship with Christ.

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