Bruce Baloian, Ph.D., delivers the final lecture in his "Life and Teachings" course.

Working the Soil: How Bruce Baloian Answered God’s Call

by Logan Cain

Bruce Baloian, Ph.D., professor emeritus in the Department of Biblical and Religious Studies, delivered his final chapel address to the Azusa Pacific community at the end of the 2016-17 school year. His lecture, signaling the culmination of more than three decades of service at APU, provided insight into Jesus’ call for ministry to the poor and disenfranchised.

Baloian embodied the lessons of his signature course, The Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, by reaching out to struggling and underprivileged students. “Bruce stayed in his office late at night, always keeping an open door for students who needed academic, spiritual, or personal help and encouragement,” said John Hartley, Ph.D., distinguished professor emeritus of Old Testament at Azusa Pacific Seminary.

“Dr. Baloian extended more grace to me than any other professor,” said Abigail Peck ’19. “He intentionally prayed for us, remembered our struggles, and offered a space to unpack our hardships.”

Paul Lehman-Schletiwitz, pastor of Gateway Community Church and former adjunct professor in the Departments of Biblical and Religious Studies and English, recalled that Baloian gave special attention to questioning students. “Bruce always carried concern for ministry students who struggled in their faith,” said Lehman-Schletewitz.

In Baloian’s chapel address, he told of his upbringing on a family farm, which his father hoped he would inherit. Though he went into ministry instead, Baloian didn’t stray far from his farming roots. “Like a crop, Bruce grew his students by working the soil,” said Hartley. “The undergraduates who came from his classes were very knowledgeable in seminary, possessing a strong knowledge of Scripture.”

Baloian’s former students attest that he tended to them after they left APU. “I continued to attend Dr. Baloian’s weekly Bible study for 10 years after I graduated,” said Edie Chambers ’87. “He even taught me practical life skills, like how to repair my car and balance my checking account.”

A parting comment made in the conclusion of that last chapel typifies Baloian’s wisdom and humility. “Jesus did not die for my career; he’s not interested in that at all. He died for you and me.”

Baloian leaves an indelible mark on generations of APU students whose knowledge of Scripture and relationship with Christ grew under his tutelage.

  • Logan Cain '18 is a senior public relations intern in the Office of University Relations. He is a biblical studies and humanities major in the Honors College.

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