International Chapel: APU's Hidden Gem

by Camille Garcia '15

The aroma of warm food, the sound of friendly conversations, and the refrains of worship songs in different languages fill the room in Upper Turner Campus Center every Friday morning. While most students think of chapel as a large gathering held in the Felix Event Center three times a week, those attending International Chapel have opted for a much smaller and intimate venue, making it a hidden gem in the APU community.

As collaboration between the Office of Chapel Programs and International Students and Scholars, this chapel draws students with a “Global Pass” every Friday from 10:30–11:20 a.m. The sticker represents the attendees’ commitment to seek intentional relationships with international students in the APU community.

According to Vijay Jacob, M.Div., assistant director of ISS, International Chapel seeks to bridge spiritual and cultural barriers to share the love of Christ and the Gospel’s message.

International Chapel began in the 1990s when a group of international students gathered to share their culture and worship in different languages. These students first met in the Faculty Dining Room on APU’s East Campus until 2004 when International Chapel became an official part of Chapel Programs. International undergraduates, graduates, as well as missionary and third-culture students, form this interactive community.

With more than 300 students, APU’s International Chapel is the only such program offered at the 176 universities in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities. For Jacob, he has seen the program as APU’s longstanding tradition of engaging in intercultural learning and discipleship.

The worship, welcome, hospitality, and mobilization teams work alongside Jacob to make this more than a once-a-week event, but rather an intentional lifestyle. International Chapel sponsors Ohana Groups, where international and domestic students cross cultural barriers by spending time together to interact and build spiritual relationships.

For Alicia Cheung, a Hong Kong native majoring in art who transferred to APU, she notices how the community is genuine and builds connections to one another.

“Attending International Chapel helped me understand that together we can do a lot more. Knowing that I have a family of students supporting me makes the transition easier,” Cheung said.

This year, APU lives out its Christ Cornerstone and the “I Am” statements from the Gospel of John in their chapel services. Each week, International Chapel spotlights speakers who shine the character of Jesus through their own personal encounters and stories of transformation, inviting students to respond to Christ.

“We're a global witnessing community,” said Jacob. “Every Friday, we join a chorus of our fellow believers from around the world.”