President Jon Wallace made a dramatic entrance at Friday’s morning chapel in the Felix Event Center (FEC) on West Campus.
From a catwalk in the rafters, Wallace was lowered 50 feet down on a rope into the audience. This unusual entrance served as Wallace’s metaphor for trusting God and allowing others to be there for him.
“I know what it’s like to have someone carry you, because I’ve been carried,” Wallace said.
He added that it is a biblical foundation to carry others and be carried, alluding to his seven-month absence from APU due to metastatic carcinoma.
Wallace’s message was on Mark 1, a book he calls an “evaluation of faith.” He focused on the role of Jesus’ friends and their faithfulness.
“There is individual faith, but there is also a mystery to faith that says God will honor me when I sacrificially give [and] its not needed,” Wallace said. “I’m not [the one] who is important. It is the other person that God has called me to carry.”
Wallace urged students to think about the loose rope God has called them to hold on to.
“I think one of my biggest sins…is when I [gave] up on God’s plan for other people, when I was responsible [for] simply holding their rope and making sure they wouldn’t fall,” he said.
Sophomore Christian ministries major and Chapel Services member Cameron Rose said that students are more attentive when Wallace speaks, because there is an added vibrancy in his presence. Rose added that he values Wallace’s vulnerability.
“I am happy that he is feeling better, and hope that he only continues to get healthier,” Rose said. “It was humbling to hear such a well-loved man be vulnerable and talk about how he has been carried through this past year. It reminded me that asking for help is not a display of weakness, but an act that helps make us stronger.”
Demonstrating that growing strength, Wallace is excited about the new General Education requirements and new departments on campus. Within the next 90 days, Wallace said the administration will be ready to announce some of their physical building plans. “We are actively working to [fund construction] right now,” Wallace said.
Along with these upcoming plans for the future, Wallace said his goal for APU is to be vigilant helpers in Azusa and urged students to be neighbors within the Azusa community. He suggested that this would cause others to see APU students as a helping hand in the city.
“If we were able to live fully as a community of Christ followers, every family and every neighborhood in close proximity to the university would wake up every morning and say, ‘Thank goodness Azusa Pacific University is there,’” Wallace said.
In his time away from campus, Wallace said the leadership at APU functioned efficiently and effectively despite his absence.
“What an amazing statement to have the president away for seven months and the administration and Board of Trustees continued to accomplish the tasks that were put before them,” Wallace stated.
Wallace said he was pleased to see the university move forward. Without the responsibility of being president, Wallace said he was able to get to know students during that time, which served as a reminder of what APU is truly about.
“It was really good for me to hear from them without being worried if they were going to offend me,” Wallace said. “[It was good to hear] what their honest thoughts were.”