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APU Students Take a Stand for Social Justice

by Brendon Cadman '13

Several hundred students sat on the turf field at Azusa Pacific University and swayed to acoustic rock music.

Christian rock band Jars of Clay was on stage, performing a collection of hits compiled during their 19 years in music. On a cool Tuesday night, a free concert proved the perfect activity for college kids looking for inexpensive entertainment.

However, Jars of Clay didn’t come all the way out to Azusa just to provide free entertainment. In 2005, the Grammy Award-winning band became involved with efforts to combat the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa. As they learned more about this issue, they realized a connection between living with HIV/AIDS and the need for clean water.

Out of this realization they helped form Blood:Water Mission, a grassroots organization that seeks to provide clean blood and clean water in Africa. When the band wrapped up their concert set, students were given an opportunity to support this mission with whatever cash they happened to have on them.

If there’s one thing that college students don’t have a lot of, it’s cash. Nevertheless, those who were able to do so emptied their pockets for a worthy cause. The fact that Jars of Clay would come to a college campus to raise money is significant, not because the amount of money students have available, but because of the responsiveness of college students to issues of social justice.

According to Matt Visser, senior director of the Center for Student Action at APU, students who attended the concert raised about $1,800 to support Blood:Water Mission. To put that into perspective, Jars of Clay lead singer Dan Haselton informed students that $1 was enough to provide clean drinking water for one person—for a whole year.

“We usually don’t think that we’re able to make a difference on our own,” said Daniel Holt ’13, a history and biblical studies double major at APU. “But when you get people together to give a dollar at a time, you really can make a difference.”

In addition to raising funds, APU students have contributed a considerable amount of service hours. Each year, students commit to a minimum of 30 service hours as a precondition for graduation. They also seek other ways to show support and make a difference, participating in events like Tom’s One Day Without Shoes, which encourages people to raise awareness simply by walking barefoot for a day.

Whether it’s a crumpled dollar bill that makes its way into a donation box, or a Saturday spent at a soup kitchen, students are finding ways to show their support.

“We usually don’t think that we’re able to make a difference on our own, but when you get people together to give a dollar at a time, you really can make a difference.”