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Wishing Well gears up for national push

Friday, November 30, 2007  
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By Alison Roberts

For members of Oklahoma Christian University’s Wishing Well Project, October’s World Mission Workshop became the launching pad for a new nationwide campaign. The campaign aims to open individual Wishing Well projects on campuses of other Christian universities.

The group’s participation in WMW began with the semi-annual art gallery. The gallery opened the week prior to WMW and was open throughout the university’s Homecoming weekend.

“We sold 10 pieces [of art] totaling $2,180 not including all the prints we sold,” Wishing Well board member Whitney Parker said.

Board Member Joseph Karch said the gallery stayed open during the workshop, and the organization raised more than $6,000 over the weekend.

“The gallery was extremely successful,” Executive Director Ryan Groves said. “It was incredible to watch people get excited about the idea without us even having to say anything.”

For WMW attendees interested in further information about how to get personally involved in raising money for wells in Africa, Wishing Well hosted one of the classroom sessions.

“It was a terrific chance for us to meet like-minded people across the nation,” Groves said. “World Mission Workshop was Wishing Well’s first event on a national stage.”

Some of the “like-minded people” Groves met included other groups that drill wells in Africa and churches with missions in Africa. 

Jason Harvey said African missions are of particular interest to Wishing Well because they are seeking other locations for building wells.

The workshop class informed students from other universities about how they can be involved in the project on their own campuses. Interested schools included Abilene Christian University, Lubbock Christian University, David Lipscomb University, Harding University, Ohio Valley University, Faulkner University and Cascade College. Students who attended the conference took the information back to their campuses to try it there.

For students at Cascade College, Wishing Well will provide the Campus Ministry with the ability to work on a global scale.

“Sometimes the downfall of humans is that we become so easily discouraged,” Cascade Campus Ministry Team Service Coordinator Anna Potter said. “We just did not know where to start but we knew that we had the passion and desire to make a difference.”

Potter was first struck by the simplicity of Wishing Well’s mission.

“All it takes is water,” Potter said. “Just some clean water to make a large difference.”

Groves said he believes the excited response to the program is directly related to the amount of involvement students themselves can have in working for change.

“People are interested because this isn’t just a novelty or something that you contribute to, this is something you can be a part of,” Groves said. “You get to see and experience the change we can affect on the world.”

Each chapter will be given the freedom to choose the way in which funds are raised. Potter said Cascade plans to continue the art gallery tradition. The school’s official kickoff date is set for January, but more than 15 artists have already shown interest in creating works for the college’s first show.

Wishing Well is working to complete the process of becoming a nationwide entity. The organization hopes to gain non-profit corporation status so it can function outside of the university’s boundaries. 

Wishing Well must first become incorporated. The group is entirely responsible for the formation of a business plan, mission statement, and forming bylaws.

“This is being done from scratch,” Groves said. “It’s all OC students doing this from the ground up.”

Fortunately, Groves has had the help of many students along the way. Brian Bush, Oklahoma Christian director of foundation and corporate relations, and Michael Clark, Oklahoma Christian alumnus and lawyer, have used their professional experience to help the group’s endeavors.

Though they are focused on nationalizing the project, Groves said the Oklahoma Christian community will not see a decrease in activity on campus.

“Next Monday night, View 63 will be a prayer night for Africa,” Groves said. “It will include Outreach, Acting on Aids, Schools for Schools and Wishing Well.”

The Dec. 3 event will also be the campus-wide premiere of a documentary, Miss HIV. The film concentrates on the policies and efforts working to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS throughout Africa and follows two women through Botswana’s Miss HIV pageant.

Throughout the spring semester, Wishing Well will host events including a Derek Webb concert, a booth at Winterfest in Arlington, Texas and the Bucket Campaign, an event at which students carry five gallons of water around a mile of campus. For each gallon of water carried, sponsors pledge a donation to Wishing Well. Groves said he hopes it will give students more insight into the lives of the people they are working to help.

“In Ethiopia, people have to walk three to four miles in 130-degree heat to bring water to their families. [The journey] will literally kill them,” Groves said.

The group is also planning a summer campaign to Ethiopia.  The team will be seeking a location for their first well. They will also film a documentary that will show a more realistic picture of the situation.

The first contact with Ethiopia was made last summer when Harvey went on a campaign with Let’s Start Talking.

“I met a missionary named John Ed Clark through Let’s Start Talking,” Harvey said. “He has been helping to determine where to build the first well.”

The students involved in Wishing Well said they know they have a big task at hand but are concentrating on establishing a base for the building of future plans.

“There are so many opportunities ahead of us that we don’t even know what to do,” Groves said. “The big challenge for right now is slowing down and making sure we have our foundation so that we can make the most of it.”

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