For 72 years, Azusa Pacific University has held a special event to raise money for student scholarships.
People from all around the country gathered in Azusa Pacific’s Felix Event Center on Saturday, Oct. 21. Here, they celebrated APU’s 72nd annual Dinner Rally which serves as a commemoration to those who have contributed to APU and the school’s main student scholarship fundraiser.
A significant part of the event was the world class symphonies and choir arrangements performed by dozens of students and a few alumni. APU President Adam J. Morris spoke on how all of these student performers are assisted by scholarships, many which he knows are only here because of that support.
“My wife and I were looking at all of these students and I was imagining what a night like tonight would be without financial support from friends like you. There would be countless empty seats,” President Morris said in his address to the crowd.
Investing in APU’s future brought many together from various backgrounds. Trustees board member Robert Tiede, from Charlotte, N.C., never graduated from APU, yet the school is very close to him.
Tiede’s oldest daughter was in California touring colleges when she discovered APU and immediately decided she’d found the one. Living on the east coast, Tiede never heard of APU. At his local bible study, he brought up his prayer concern that perhaps his daughter was choosing a fly-by-night school. That’s when one person remarked he got his masters from APU and another informed him his company entered into a partnership with the school.
“It was then I realized God wouldn’t lead her to the wrong place,” Tiede said. Not only did his eldest daughter graduate from APU in 2007, but the rest of Tiede’s children followed suit.
Kerry Shynn is a new member to APU, so Dinner Rally was the perfect introduction. After 20 years of working at Biola, her husband, David Shynn, is stepping into the role of Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer starting Oct. 30.
Shynn spoke on investment, which was the main topic of the dinner rally. To her, our contributions to APU remind her of the biblical parable of the mustard seed. “The mustard seed starts as a tiny little guy and it is a weed. But it grows and it’s beautiful and it’s bright and sunny, and that is how God works and that is what He does with our efforts,” Shynn said.
The Dinner Rally captured this from the roots of its history to present time.
After attendees enjoyed their entrees and desserts, Dr. Ron Cline, class of ’59, spoke on how God used APU to change the trajectory of his life. He wasn’t a Christian and no other college would accept him, but former president of APU, Dr. Haggard, let him in. On Oct. 11, 1955, during a chapel service, Cline accepted Christ. He went on to passionately pursue international missions, before becoming a pastor in Ecuador and President of HCJB World Radio.
Standing beside Cline, current senior Alexis Cano stood. 68 years following Cline, Cano follows in his footsteps of missionary work. Last summer, Cano co-lead a missions team to Panama. This semester, Cano will return to Ensenada, MX for a mission trip and during winter break, she is headed to Maui for relief work.
The mission field has a larger reach than traditional evangelism and relief work. Tiede described how all 75,000 alumni, regardless of their career paths, influenced millions of people around the world. He recited a piece of advice given to him by a prominent business CEO. Tiede retold, “The church has them for one hour a week but we get them for 40, and you think we all don’t have to answer for this?”
APU student, Cheyenne Woon, spoke about her unique calling. The last two years, Woon has been a part of an anti-cancer drug research team. Her team’s breakthrough during the summer was published in a journal which won them first place at the Stem Research Symposium.
For Woon, this probably would not have happened without donor scholarships. “To be completely transparent, a big reason why I came to APU was because out of all the other colleges that I applied to, APU was the one that offered me the highest scholarship which was a huge financial relief, especially as an international student,” Woon said.
With 100% of APU’s undergraduate population receiving scholarships, donorship is essential.
President Morris stated the goal presently is to raise three million dollars in student scholarships.
“I’ll often have students come up to me and they will share with me their financial challenges and struggles and boy do I wish I could have a blank check that I could just keep writing…. I cannot imagine losing one of our students for financial reasons and it actually grieves me,” Morris said.
The greatest need, President Morris says, is prayer. He announced that currently, APU has 500 people signed up to pray every day for people at APU, and asked more to join the initiative.
Tiede expressed that the power of prayer should not be underestimated. “My grandmother prayed that one of her grandchildren would become a pastor and none of us did. Both my son-in-laws are pastors though and at the wedding I shared what my grandmother had prayed. No one can tell me prayer doesn’t make a difference,” Tiede said.
No matter the kind of investment, they all go to preserve what Tiede believes is a special place. He sees this in how his oldest daughter still gets together with her roommates twice a year. To Tiede, they were just little kids freshman year, and now they’re all grown up. Seeing how APU grew them to go out and make an impact has proved to him APU is worth investing in. And from the well-attended dinner rally, it’s evident that many feel the same.