APU’s 35th Annual Night of Champions Makes Eternal Impact

by Rachel White ’97, M.A. ’17

Approximately 2,500 California teens, as well as their pastors, coaches, and teachers filled Azusa Pacific University’s Felix Event Center for an evening of food, fun, and fellowship on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at the 35th Annual Night of Champions (NOC). Hosted by the East San Gabriel Valley Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), this ministry focuses on reaching youth by offering them an opportunity to meet sports and entertainment heroes and listen to personal testimonies concerning their relationship with Jesus Christ. Pastor Francis Chan shared the Gospel message and hundreds gave their lives to Christ that evening.

The annual event draws teens from Los Angeles, San Diego, Bakersfield and beyond. “People are willing to drive a couple hours to be a part of Night of Champions,” said Allen Webster, east area director for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “There isn’t another event quite like it. ”

A key to its long running success, NOC makes the Gospel message accessible. Youth from diverse backgrounds find a welcoming and engaging environment where they enjoy a good time and hear about Christ’s love. Ticket prices are intentionally kept low to ensure all who are interested can attend.

“I estimate that in the last 35 years, 100,000 people have heard the Gospel at Night of Champions and many thousands have accepted Christ,” said Terry Franson, Ph.D., senior vice president emeritus, whose involvement spans NOC’s entire history.

Throughout the school year, FCA hosts meetings on the university’s campus Tuesday evenings where APU student athletes gather together to share their testimonies and participate in discipleship groups. NOC marks the culmination of their time together and provides a way to connect with the next generation of students and student athletes.

“We received 285 response cards at the end of the night from people who either committed their lives to Christ, re-dedicated their lives to Christ, or have questions and are seeking more information about the Christian faith,” said Bethany Blomquist, assistant cross country coach and APU’s NOC coordinator. “One of my personal highlights was meeting a student volunteer who attended NOC as a high schooler last year and is now a freshman at APU. I feel honored to be a small part of an event that has such a huge eternal impact!”

Rachel White serves as the associate director of public relations in the Office of University Relations at Azusa Pacific University.