“This was a great day for me to see love being acted out between my ‘alphies’, Alpha Leaders, and the staff we were helping,” said Jazmin Bennett ’14, a pre-med major and current Alpha Leader. “Love is the best four letter word, and my desire this semester is to open up my eyes and heart to love God and others even more.”
City Links is Azusa Pacific’s annual service event that takes place three consecutive weekends in September to October. It is an opportunity for new APU students and their Alpha Leaders to not only create community within their groups, but harbor community in neighborhoods as they go out and serve. “After already experiencing City Links last year, I was pumped for what God would give our group to do. I prayed for Him to just use us in the way He sees fit.”
The Alpha Program is a student leadership program that is designed to help familiarize incoming freshmen to APU’s campus by involving them in outreach, events, and a beginnings course that focuses on love as related to a Christian worldview. For the fall semester, students are placed in a group of 8–10 other freshmen and given a leader who has been training throughout summer. With their group, students experience a sense of community and gain an understanding of learning what it means to live an authentic Christian life as a student at APU.
Bennett and her group, along with two other groups, headed to Canyon Christian Fellowship, a local church in Azusa, where they painted, cleaned, and decorated bulletin boards. “It was a great bonding experience. Not only did I grow closer with my team, but the other two groups as well,” she said. Even though City Links is only a half-day excursion, Bennett was able to see the church’s mission firsthand and their enormous heart for service as she interacted with members of the church. Through spending quality time with one another, Bennett’s group saw God work alongside them by transforming their hearts to be more like-minded and encompass a spirit of giving.
“I realize that God is transforming me each day and I’m so in awe of Him,” Bennett said. In her second year participating in City Links, first as a freshman and now as a leader, Bennett discovered that God put on her heart to see love more in everything she says, thinks, and does. “We can love because He first loved us,” she said. “It’s time for us to act on love and appreciate the small things in life.”
Looking forward, Bennett hopes she can take the lessons learned from City Links to help establish a deeper sense of love within her team’s hearts and focus more on being fully invested in God. “We need to be intentional in our relationships by loving unconditionally, not only with one another, but with God as well.”