Three first-year students from different cultural backgrounds and nationalities share their experiences at Azusa Pacific University and their testimonies of how they met Christ. 

Azusa Pacific University, established in 1899, has a 125-year-long history that includes students from diverse backgrounds. The university’s long legacy holds intriguing stories that have yet to be fully uncovered.

I was privileged to interview three bright and ambitious first-year APU students, each pursuing a different field of study. I was drawn to them because of their unique personalities and interests, and I was eager to learn more about their academic pursuits and personal experiences.

As I listened to their stories, I was captivated by the depth and richness of their life experiences. Each individual’s life experiences shape their unique character, and knowing which specific experiences led them to choose APU as their academic institution is intriguing.

Brian Peveler

Brian Peveler, a freshman cinematic arts major from Nevada, makes his surroundings feel alive and involves others around him. He is a dedicated Christian who puts Christ before anything else. 

Peveler said his faith in Christ began in 2014 during a summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) program.  

“I always believed in Christ as a child, but my faith became my own during a VBS in the summer of 2014, and I was baptized that July; that’s when my faith in Christ entirely became mine, and I fully understood what faith meant.” 

Peveler initially wanted to attend Point Loma Nazarene University because two of his older siblings had gone there. However, he wanted to major in film, and the institution did not offer that degree. 

“One day, my mom mentioned APU, so we both looked into it. Looking into the website, I saw APU provided a film degree, and the reason I committed to APU was that on the APU website, it says ‘God First Since 1899,’ and that statement persuaded me to commit to APU.”

Peveler said that, so far at APU, “I met many good friends, and more than that, the connection I built has been a gift. An astonishing thing was when I first went to my class, it started with praying. Coming from a public school, it was shocking, but I felt privileged.” 

Peveler says his most memorable moment at APU so far was at the Hartwig Prayer Chapel. 

“The most memorable memory was in the second week of school. I felt confused and wasn’t sure about a lot of things that were occurring. We heard music from the prayer chapel as I left the dining hall with my friends. We were curious and walked into the prayer chapel. When we entered, the time was 7 p.m., and we worshiped until 11:30 p.m., and time went by instantly. After worship, I felt my heart levitate and felt God’s presence within me.”

Kailee Kobayashi

Kailee Kobayashi, a freshman social work major, was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. She possesses an admirable and selfless nature, always eager to lend a helping hand to those in need and actively seeking opportunities to impact the community positively.

Kobayashi decided she wanted to commit to APU during her seventh-grade year. 

“Both my older siblings went to APU. My sister had done a tour when I was in seventh grade, and that is when I had just gotten interested in my major, social work.”

Kobayashi claims that the atmosphere of APU was also a key factor that attracted her to attend. 

“I thought it was staged how friendly everyone was; it felt like a play because everyone was super close and knew the tour guide. If this was real, I had to go here. Like, the entire campus was a social work movement!”

Her faith in Christ began early in her life mainly because her parents were pastors which influenced her to understand Christianity.

“My faith in Christ began when my parents became church pastors when I was two. Because of that, I always knew what Christianity was and that God was real.”

Kobayashi continued, “My faith grew as I began attending APU. Coming to APU, my faith was outside of my parents’. Getting to know others, having fellowship and figuring out what it is to worship God has been wild here.”

Kobayashi’s most memorable memory that she built at APU this semester was through Kaleo.

“My most memorable memory was Kaleo worship nights on Thursdays. I have never felt God the way I have at this school, and on the first Thursday worship night, my friends started crying over the message. That Kaleo night was my most memorable memory here at APU.”

Sam Jang

Sam Jang, a freshman nursing major, is a Korean American. He was an excellent student in high school, consistently earning top grades and volunteering at hospitals. He was also skilled in sports and even coached.

Jang decided to attend APU to strengthen his relationship with God further.

“Since APU is a Christ-centered academic institution, I knew it would be the best place to continue my faith in Christ.”

His faith began as he was raised in a Christian family and came to understand what belief in Jesus meant. 

“I was blessed and very fortunate to be raised in a Christian-based family. So I always had some idea of what faith was and that I needed to have my faith in Jesus, but I never really knew what that meant and, at a younger age, didn’t experience what my faith would look like.”

He continued, “But I think the more I was exposed to God’s work in my life every day and primarily through acts of service such as volunteering at the hospital or for my church, it allowed me to develop my faith in Christ.” 

Jang’s experience as a nursing student at APU led him to strive for higher goals.

“So far, my experience here at APU has been filled with highs and lows. The nursing program here challenges me to be the best student I can be and demands the best from us.”

Jang has found the sense of community at APU to be the most rewarding aspect of his experience here.

“Making new friends in nursing and other majors has been the highlight. Spending time with them, studying, going out or playing volleyball has been truly enjoyable.”