Oral Roberts University Says, “I Am Syria.”

“Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.”

 Mattie Stepanek

As a result of collaboration and unity, wonderful things have happened in Tulsa, OK this week. In just a few days, students across the campus of Oral Roberts University came together to raise over $7,300— enough to provide food and necessities for over 1200 Syrian refugees living in Northern Iraq. This is nothing short of incredible, considering college students are not typically among those blessed with ample disposable income.

The ORU Missions and Outreach Office chose the #iamsyria campaign of World Compassion to be the global initiative tied to their annual Fall Outreach event this October. Each year, students go out into the community on Halloween and collect cans to feed the hungry in Tulsa, and as of 2011, students have also made an international impact each year through their giving.

In order to raise awareness for this campaign on campus, Jason Law and Eric English presented the reality of the Syrian civil war, the resulting refugee crisis, and the strategic relief World Compassion is providing in this region to students at the #iamsyria Outreach Event, one week before Fall Outreach. This event was sponsored by the Christian Worldview Committee, International Relations and Development Organization, Enactus, and Christian Legal Society at ORU.

At the end of the event, students were encouraged by the ORU Missions and Outreach Department to “Take Heart for Syria” by raising $75 per dormitory floor, to reach a campus-wide goal of $6000 at Fall Outreach the following Thursday.  More than 120 students were in attendance, many of whom committed to champion #iamsyria among their peers to reach this goal.

One of these students was Jasabet Munoz, a 3rd-year Government major.

“During the event they explained how we could be a voice on our dormitory floors, to raise awareness and funds for aiding this crisis. So the Monday after, during our weekly community meeting, I talked to my floor about the crisis going on in Syria and how through funds and prayer, we, as a floor, could help.  Even though $75 is a lot for one college student, we calculated if everyone put in two dollars we would reach our goal. By Fall Outreach, we had done it.

“But it wasn’t all about the goal. I realized that through speaking to some of my friends, they had grown a special love for helping the Syrian people, and that’s even a greater impact than the money they could have given. I know that they are still praying, finding ways to help, and to me, that’s the most important thing.”

There was over $2,800 raised by students at Fall Outreach on Thursday, October 31st. The next day, over $4,500 was collected in a single chapel offering. When presenting this campaign in chapel, ORU’s President Dr. Billy Wilson explained, the phrase “I Am Syria… is really saying we identify with the pain and hurt of the people of Syria in this moment of need.”

Kaylei Atchley, a freshman business major at ORU, used her existing jewelry business to raise funds for refugees. Griff Poindexter, a junior on the ORU Men’s Soccer team, wore his #iamsyria t-shirt to raise awareness.  Holly Garland, a special education major, shared pictures of the #iamsyria shirts on social media. Each student who championed this campaign multiplied their efforts and made a big impact by inspiring others.

This incredible outcome demonstrates how teamwork can lighten the load, how collaboration can achieve bigger results, how unity can strengthen our resolve. If Christians across the nation were to catch this vision, they could pave the way for an unprecedented movement to change the future for Syrian refugees.

You can inspire your community and make it happen.

If you are passionate about helping Syrian refugees and would like to be a champion for #iamsyria at your college, church, or community—Contact us here.