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Baptist church introduces new program for refugees

Posted at 5:07 PM, Jun 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-18 18:38:59-04

As the immigration controversy grows, one church is taking a stance.

South Tulsa Baptist is developing programs to help refugees feel at home.

As the federal government resettles refugee populations, the Burmese community is growing in south Tulsa.

But for Vung Lun, finding a new home was a lonely task.

"The ladies have no way," Burmese refugee Vung Lun said. "We don't drive, we don't speak, we don't know where to go. Only church and grocery store, that's two places only where we have to go out."

She began attending English classes at South Tulsa Baptist.

As popularity grew, the church looked at new ways to welcome international parishioners.

Now 25, women like Lun meet every week, learning to sew and speak English.

"I believe the Bible teaches we're supposed to be good citizens," South Tulsa Baptist Church Pastor Eric Costanzo said. "We are supposed to be respectful of laws that are in place. At the same time, there are dozens of scriptures that tell us our responsibility of the church is to serve the vulnerable."

While the women learn to sew they're also getting credits. At the end of 10 weeks, they'll be able to get a sewing machine for their own homes for just 25 dollars.

"That gives them the opportunity than to work at home," Rising Village Founder Lisa Tresch said. "Many of them don't have sewing machines. What they learn here they might forget in between. So when they're working in the fall and continuing their class they'll be able to actually stitch at home."

This non-profit founder spent the last five years teaching women how to sew in Ghana.

Tresch says she's happy the church and women like Lun helped her bring the cause home.

"This program when we come out makes us happy," Lun said. "Make us want to live, next day to face more excitement. You know? Okay, I have a class!"

Later this summer the church plans to open a center for the refugee population and offer more classes and opportunities.

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