Say Yes

By Taylor Fiddyment

Annelise Shaw skillfully wrapped a blood pressure cuff around the little girl's small arm, pumping the air into it like she had done countless times throughout the day. She didn’t notice the little girl watching her intently, eyes bright with the excitement of the visiting medical team. 

    Alexandria was ten years old, traveling through Central America from Honduras with her family in search of a new life and schooling that would guide her to the dream of becoming an engineer. Her family had arrived at the U.S. border in Mexicali, Mexico and were biding their time at a house that hosted travelers and refugees called Casa de Alfa y Omega. Mexico Outreach’s Team Luke, the medical team, set up their mobile clinic in the courtyard of the house and offered basic medicines, wellness checks, wound care, and the service of an Optometrist (he’s the guy that gets you set up with glasses). 


     Annelise, as a biology major, was immediately interested in volunteering with Team Luke for the Spring Break trip to Mexicali. Some friends had encouraged her to go, sharing compelling stories from their experiences there and it all seemed exciting!... But she felt fear welling up thinking about going there. Weren’t the caravans supposed to be dangerous? Would we be anywhere near them? What will my parents say? I’m not equipped to help people in deep pain. I don’t even speak Spanish!

      But God’s peace replaced the fear, and she knew it’s what she would do, come what may.



     Not long after Annelise had done Alexandria’s health assessment, she began to notice the little girl hovering nearby. Before long, Alexandria was easily chatting with her, telling her about her dreams and her family, favorite animal, her favorite color (blue). With the help of the team translator, Annelise got to hear the girl’s story from her own perspective. Alexandria had been top of her class in school, loving school and proud of her hard work. But a teacher had begun to treat her poorly, favoring other students, and eventually became abusive. Hearing this story, seeing what lengths Alexandria’s family had gone to to get there, Annelise knew she had an opportunity to be the deliverer of encouragement to her new friend, so she took it. 

“Alexandria, what that teacher did to you was unacceptable. You are a child of God and you deserve to be treated like one! But you cannot let that teacher’s actions discourage you from continuing your dream. You will be an amazing engineer. Don’t give up.”

     It was only then that Annelise really stopped to look around. Each of these people had their own stories, their own dreams, their own struggles. They hadn’t chosen their situations, but each one of the people in this house was choosing to do something about it. They refused to be victims of their environment. 

From that day on, it really clicked how much responsibility I have to take advantage of my resources and use them to serve. I was so scared! I had no idea what to expect, but looking back, I would tell someone feeling like me: Even if you’re scared, just do it. The worst thing that can happen is that you get there and find out that this isn’t for you, but chances are you’ll meet some incredible people.

We never know the impact a single conversation might have on the life of another. As we know from math (my literal least favorite) if a line is shifted even a single degree from its origin, it can drastically alter the trajectory of that line. I wholeheartedly believe that God offers us the opportunity to help shift trajectories. And chances are, we will never get to see the effects of those conversations, as the potential for those lines are infinite! But as someone who’s trajectory has been drastically altered for the better, multiple times, by seemingly simple conversations and exhortations, I choose to believe it is powerful. 

So, say YES. Whatever it is that you’re wrestling with. Whether it is making the decision to step out of your boat and follow Jesus for the first time, or leave every comfortable thing you’ve ever known and embark on an adventure, or simply put a hand on a friend and pray, tell that fear to be silent because we have the privilege of doing the good work of Jesus. 
AMEN.

“And immediately they left their nets and followed Him.”

- Mark 1:18

Alexandria & Annelise

Alexandria & Annelise

Practice Resurrection

Written by: Abby Sunu

It’s funny how God can meet us in the most unexpected and bizarre ways, like an Instagram story. I was aimlessly tapping through Instagram stories when I came across a photo of a canvas flag.

It was simple, beige and printed in black ink were the words “Practice Resurrection.”

My gaze was fixed on those words.

“Practice Resurrection”

What the heck does that even mean?

As a Christian, “resurrection” is one of those buzzwords I’ve always been familiar with. I’ve sat through plenty of Easter Sundays, Bible classes, and given many Young Life talks around this subject, yet the phrase still puzzled me.

I started to do some serious digging, and what I found captivated me.

The flag was created by The Parative Project, which is a social enterprise that exists to free women from human trafficking by employing 25 women who hand sew every flag in Mumbai, India. I love shopping for a cause and purchasing ethically-sourced products. My love for this flag continued to grow!

The Parative Project’s product description says it all:

“Practice resurrection” reminds us that the seed looks nothing like the flower but there is no flower without the seed. So keep working, and toiling, and trying again because it all has value and one day it will come to full affect. Even death can’t rob us so keep reminding yourself of the resurrection and walking in it’s grace.

Wow. Product descriptions have really stepped up their game because I was wrecked by this (not wrecked enough to drop $78 on it though. Yikes).

Since then, this phrase has been a central theme in my life, especially during this lenten season. In a time where the church focuses on Jesus going to the cross to die for our sins and to be raised to life again in the resurrection three days later.

As a part of this year’s Holy Week, I want to scratch the surface of what resurrection can mean for us in our walks with Christ. I want to focus on what it looks like to practice resurrection everyday.

1. Practice: Your new life with Christ

We are resurrected with Christ! When we choose to follow Jesus, we leave behind our patterns of sin and death and join Christ in the path towards righteousness and life to the full.

Christ doesn’t see the sin you carried before you met him, or even the sin after you met him. He doesn’t see that time you really messed up 4 years ago, or the bad thing you did last week, or the wrongdoings of today. That sin is dead. Your life is new.

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Romans 6:4)

I challenge you to live into your identity in Christ this Holy Week.

If you feel ashamed of your past and keep dwelling on your sin, stop, and shift your mindset to how Christ sees you.

I urge you to remember that your sin is dead, and it does not define you.

2. Practice: Live like you’re forgiven, because you are.

I’m not saying go on and do whatever the heck you want because you’re already forgiven. Don’t abuse God’s grace. Be changed by it. The Apostle Paul wrote:

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Romans 6:1-2)

Paul just called us out... (in the best way possible).

Because of the resurrection, we have been fully forgiven. Every time we ask God for forgiveness, the answer is “yes” and it’s immediate.

When I was little, having to ask my siblings for forgiveness was like pulling teeth. Thankfully our God doesn’t cross his arms and say, “Hmm, I’ll think about it,” whenever we ask for forgiveness.

We get to go freely before God.

Let’s treat repentance like a gift, not a burden.

I encourage you to actively practice immediate forgiveness the way Christ does.

3. Practice: The resurrection power inside you.

Jesus was miraculous; he healed the sick, he walked on water, he calmed the storms, he turned water into wine, he raised the dead (just to name a few). When we receive The Holy Spirit, we receive that same miraculous power that Jesus has. Jesus even said:

“Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)

Hey if Jesus said it, it must be true.

When I think about the miracles of Jesus, and then I think about my own life, I want the evidence of Jesus’s resurrection within me to be obvious to everyone I come in contact with. I want the resurrection to be written all over my life.

After all, the God who defeated death lives inside me. That’s kinda of a big deal.

What would it look like if we started to walk around knowing we are filled with the mighty power of God who rose Jesus from the grave? Not to mention, we can access that power everyday.

Do not be afraid to pray big prayers, to step out in faith, and to do the things Jesus did.

Be confident that The Holy Spirit is supernatural, is powerful, and is dwelling inside you.

And remember, you are not doing this in your own strength, but through the strength of the resurrected savior.


LOVE

Written by: Rosanna Sainez

It’s that time now, when shelves are stocked with heart shaped chocolates, roses, and valentine grams. According to Hallmark, did you know that more than 163 million cards are exchanged? I clearly didn’t, and not only that but I also did not know that Valentine's Day is celebrated in Mexico, Canada, France, and Australia. I remember when I was a little girl I would always look forward to Valentine's Day. I specifically enjoyed the gifts I would receive from classmates because it temporarily made me feel connected with them. The elementary school I attended had this tradition where each kid designed their own “Valentine’s” basket to be put on their desk, so that they would receive valentine grams from each classmate. It didn't even matter if I was close with my classmate or not. What was so special about seeing whose name was signed at the bottom of the valentine card was that they thought of me, and made me feel known. At that age I didn't quite understand the meaning of love and what that looked like for my future. Heck I still don't know, and don't think I will ever understand, unless I choose to live everyday in love. So what does living like this look like?

Love is portrayed in a multitude of ways. Whether it is internally loving oneself, or person to person. Individually, love can look like taking pleasure in things one enjoys as well as self acceptance. Love towards a person simply means taking pleasure in their personality, enjoying their company, and choosing to show affection. However, when we look at the Bible, love is not based on delighting in a person or what a person does. Love is loving one another, unconditionally.

The beauty of love is that we do not need to be complete in order to receive it. We don't need that valentine gram or a significant other to feel this love. Prior to traveling to Senegal, I was in a season where I was trying to understand God's love. I kept asking God, “Please! Let me feel your love! I want it.” One of my friends questioned me, “Rosanna why do you keep questioning God's love. You already have it.” It took a matter of months after I returned from Senegal that I had experienced love without conditions. The way my Senegalese friends looked at me in the eye and valued every part of my heart made me feel complete.

It is important to not look at Valentine’s Day as the only day we can explicitly receive or give love to others. What would it look like to live out Valentine’s Day everyday? Whether it's helping a friend or family member, serving in the community, being generous to one another, and most of all offering forgiveness daily we can achieve a life full of love; if we achieve this, maybe we can live out the commandment that Christ has put on our hearts - to love others as oneself.

Our Core Values

Written by: Matt Browning

The Center for Student Action at APU takes seriously the challenge to motivate and activate every student to be a part of an international or intercultural experience before they graduate.  The people, programs, policies, and services within the Center have a clear purpose: To help students understand and ACT on the claims of Christ that we believe we can change the world.  The guiding principles that drive the Center serve to ensure that the mission, vision, and purpose of the Center continue to be lofty, responsible, challenging, and God-honoring. The following is a list of 12 Core Values that we hold as a branch of the university, and as Christ followers. May these help you to understand us as we embrace the people of God both locally and globally.

  • We are educators. We have a responsibility to educate students. We do this generally outside the classroom, but nevertheless, we see ourselves as helping students ask good questions and find the truth about God and His world. This is our responsibility as people of the Cross.

  • We know that nobody wins until we all win. The core of the Center for Student Action is that we are stronger together than separate. Our programs vary some but our mission to challenge students to responsible action is the same. We will do what it takes to make every person and part of the Center better together.

  • We adopt a with not for mission mentality. We do not enter other cultures as North Americans that have answers that can “fix” situations. We are learners first and seek to enter new opportunities as learners, as servants, and as partners.

  • We will be relentless in challenging students to be a part of the programs in the Center. We will always work to get as many undergraduate students as possible to have an intercultural experience before they graduate.

  • We believe in creating responsible disequilabration. We will challenge students to think new and differently about themselves, God, culture, and the world, but we will always point them back to the truth of Scripture.

  • We value the seed as much as the bouquet. We value thoughtful, ongoing reflection as much as we do measurable “outcomes” as part of the experiences we challenge our students with. We will not know, this side of eternity, what the experiences we offer students will do and we are comfortable not knowing.

  • We believe that Everyone Matters. Our world would be a better place if we really believed everyone matters and acted on that belief. We commit to practicing the Royal Law of “Love your neighbor as yourself,” (James 2:8) and will seek to never commit the sin of partiality. We acknowledge that everyone is our neighbor.

  • We believe that creating a “Responsible Revolution” is one of our ultimate dreams within the Center. We desire to create such a sense of faith in action that, as a community, we will “revolt” against what the world says is success and replace those ideas with thoughts more aligned with Christ.

  • We believe that People of the Cross must have an active faith. We will constantly look for ways to challenge our students to not just hear the Word but act on what the Word says (James 1:22).

  • We hold the value that everyone has something to contribute to God’s work around the corner and around the world. We will take responsible chances on anyone that shows a desire to take the challenge to serve. No one is too messed up to serve.

  • We value cultural competence. We will look for ways to help students understand the hallmarks of a culturally competent person and put those values into practice daily.We are an office and a team of people that will, within reason, always look for ways to make a good idea or program happen. We want to empower students and staff to dream out loud and do our best to make those dreams come true. We will do our best to say “how can we make this work” rather than “this will never work”.