On Saturday, Jan. 29, a handful of the APU community gathered at Seven Palms for a night of fellowship and prayer.
This event titled, “An Appeal to Heaven,” was student-led and coordinated alongside the Center for Student Action. It was put into production for the purpose of providing students with a place to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance amidst recent national events.
“The overall goal tonight was just really seeking God and trying to discern the Holy Spirit for our campus and our campus community,” Senior Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students, Terry Franson, Ph.D. said. “I know there’s a lot of talk here about revival, and we need revival in America. We’ve bottomed out. And so whether it starts on a college campus like APU, or it starts in our White House or in our Congress, we’re ready for another spiritual awakening in America.”
In addition to being given the opportunity to pray and worship with one another, audience members were invited to take the stage and speak. Several students gave their testimonies, as well as Azusa Pacific University (APU) Alumnus Innocent Egbunkie, who attended APU in 1981 through 1986, and performed on the university’s track and field team under Franson.
Freshman Social Work major Tyler Crane, gave his testimony and spoke about acknowledging God’s love in his life.
“I always thought I believed that God loved me, but it was really just something I put in the back of my mind and didn’t really question,” Crane said. “If He really loves me He’s going to put things in front of me and tell me to trust Him and be faithful in that promise. That’s just what I need right now and I felt like maybe other people might need to know that. So in a weird way I shared my testimony more to better affirm what God is doing in my life and it just happened to impact some people.”
Crane also encouraged others to share their stories, claiming that each one is different from the rest.
“God never really seems to work the same story out twice,” Crane said. “We’re all uniquely different and we all struggle with different things, even though they might overlap with others. There’s always something uniquely different and there’s always some kind of theme that can impact somebody else who might be struggling with it and is too scared to get up.”
Franson was encouraged by the responses, expressing that the gathering gave him hope about what the current generation will accomplish in the future.
“This is an exciting time on our campus and it’s an exciting time… [for] millennials,” Franson said. “I see young people being so far ahead of where I was at your age for the things that really matter.”
Campus Pastor Coba Canales took the stage and thanked the speakers for their honesty with the audience.
“We walk around feeling like our stories are insignificant or like they’re just like everybody else’s, but believe it or not, for those of you that shared bravely and courageously about your experiences and maybe some brokenness that you’ve carried, that’s not easy to share that,” Canales said. “It causes us to be transparent and vulnerable, but the fact that you shared what you did and the fact that you’ve witnessed Jesus meet you in that place and walk with you through that is hope-giving to somebody who might be experiencing something similar.”
To bring the gathering to a close, audience members were encouraged to pray amongst themselves. Many of the audience members gathered into pairs and groups of three or four to pray and discuss the events of the evening.
“I think tonight was a good example of personal testimonies and stories of brokenness and reformation, lives being reformed,” Franson said. “And I think it starts there. It starts in everyone’s heart, including my own at 65. We have the hope, we have the answer, and I believe there’s more onlookers today looking at us and wondering what do we really stand for? And so many people are looking for hope and we have it in Christ, we have it. And we have to bestow it.”