By Dan Bewley, The News On 6
BARTLESVILLE, OK -- Imagine a class where you learn the reality of being a refugee. More than four dozen Oklahoma missionaries are learning just that, hoping it will help them respond to a disaster.
In the backwoods of Bartlesville, Oklahoma missionaries are learning how to survive in some of the toughest places on earth. It's first-hand training for Oklahoma missionaries and disaster relief responders.
"Right now in the world there's 56-plus million refugees," said Kevin Turner with Strategic World Impact.
Kevin Turner founded Strategic World Impact 20 years ago. The organization responds to war zones and natural disasters, anywhere there might be refugees.
"We train up our workers to go in and respond during an incredible, intense disaster periods," said Kevin Turner with Strategic World Impact.
All week, SWI has been teaching close to 50 Oklahomans the hazards of relief work. Everything from how to survive in the bush, start a fire and even how to avoid land mines.
Rachel Cook's father has gone on several missionary trips. She hopes to one day follow in his footsteps. This week's training, she says, has been perfect to understand how to stay safe.
"Learning to look at it as how, what would I be like in this situation, what would my needs be?" said Rachel Cook of Collinsville.
Turner says there's one common thread in all of the training: respect the culture, understand it, know what is and what is not acceptable.
"We try to teach them how do you culturally respond so that you're coming in as a blessing rather than as a arrogant outsider who says, 'I know all the solutions to your problem and I'm here to provide them,'" said Kevin Turner with Strategic World Impact.
Turner says the knowledge gained in Bartlesville can one day save a life a world away.
After this week's training, Kevin Turner and other workers with SWI will be leaving for Pakistan to help with humanitarian aid there.