It’s early morning here at the APU South African campus in Pietermaritzburg. I’m sitting in the main lodge that serves as the dinner hall. The lodge sits high on the property overlooking a lush green valley.
Though most of our 54 students are still asleep, the kitchen staff goes about their morning chores in hushed Zulu, greeting me with warm and generous words. I arrived here on Tuesday morning after more than 24 hours. I’m literally on the opposite end of the world from Southern California. After that kind of a journey you might ask: Is it worth it? Does the African experience really make such a difference that we should send some of our very best undergraduates half way around the world to live immersed in this culture? Are there better ways to extend the 112-year commitment to God’s work in the world that has so defined the APU God First mission?
My answer this morning as it has been for the previous nine semesters I’ve traveled here remains a resounding, “Yes!” The South Africa Semester, like many of our cross-border/cross-cultural learning opportunities, perfectly captures our Christian higher education mission.
Yesterday, I visited many of the service-learning and ministry sites that comprise part of the course requirements here and witnessed firsthand the impact this country and its people are having on our students. Today, we will gather to celebrate together their last full day on this campus before these students head out for their last four weeks in Cape Town. In chapel, I’m going to encourage our students to take seriously the seeds of growth and change planted this semester and ask them to consider what God may be preparing them for as they return to us on APU’s Azusa campus.
Without question, our South Africa student learning experience affirms and supports our collective vision of becoming that university on a hill. Pray with me for the last four weeks these students have here before they head home for Christmas. Pray that God will use their discoveries and learnings for His glory and His purposes and that these students and others like them will respond to His call upon their lives.