Upholding a Legacy of Service: APU’s Summer 2022 Missions

by Peter Cooley

The Center for Student Action at Azusa Pacific University is committed to mobilizing and educating students toward transformational and Christ-centered service—locally, nationally, and internationally. During the summer of 2022, CSA sent approximately 90 students to 12 countries across the globe—exemplifying APU’s dedication to service and outreach.

“Students have a deep desire to get out and serve people,” said Karen Rouggly, DMin, director for mobilization. “After travel limitations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are blessed to have the opportunity to once again engage in missions across the globe.”

Rouggly is in charge of developing mission opportunities for all students serving through APU. Prior to working for the Center for Student Action, she was a U.S.-based missionary recruiting for a South African organization and also worked in public and nonprofit education. She has a DMin from Portland Seminary and an MA in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary, but it was her time as an undergraduate at APU that ignited a passion for community development, transformational service, and helping students understand cross-cultural ministry.

After multiple successful mission trips over Thanksgiving and spring break, the CSA sent 12 teams worldwide this summer, to countries including Greece, Côte D’Ivoire, Romania, Guatemala, Honduras, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, and Uganda. Each team aided communities in a different manner, all with the Gospel at the center.

“God is already at work in all of the countries and places we serve,” noted Rouggly. “We simply have the privilege of joining in His work, reaching out to others to demonstrate the love of Christ.”

The Romanian team worked with organizations assisting displaced Ukrainian refugees. The Guatemala team consisted of students pursuing careers in healthcare, with nursing and pre-med students helping with medical care in rural clinics. In Ireland, students volunteered at homeless shelters, as well as after school children’s programs. The Netherland team worked in Amsterdam to aid in anti-human trafficking efforts, and the South Africa team engaged in street evangelism through local “surf and skate” ministry.

These are just a few of the missional experiences that APU students encountered, working to further advance the work of God in different cultural contexts across the world. By immersing themselves in new cultures across a wide array of locales, students were able to make meaningful and authentic connections with other people, all with the cornerstone of service as a driving force. From the student point of view, Grace Devries ’23, who served in Spain, noted the genuine connections made with others. “My Global Engagement trip to Spain taught me so much about the importance of passion and purpose. It was so inspiring to learn from many locals, get to know them, and hear their heart for the world.”

Jon Slobig ’23, who served in Côte D’Ivoire, also recognized the importance of connecting to others through evangelism. “We had the chance to minister and evangelize to college students, presenting some with the gospel for the very first time. Before this, I don’t think that I had ever truly understood what it meant to see a ripe spiritual harvest. It was amazing to see people so willing to listen and receive the gospel and it was so encouraging to see the faithfulness of God through all of it.”

From these testimonies, as well as many others, the CSA is effectively gearing students toward lives of faith and compassion. “Students come back from these experiences reporting deeper empathy and care for others,” says Rouggly. “Our desire is that every APU graduate lives as a service-oriented difference maker.”

Looking forward, the CSA is excited to continue building upon this momentum. Over the course of the upcoming school year, APU plans to send out more than 30 mission teams across the world. Over the Thanksgiving, spring, and summer breaks, students will continue partnering with communities across the globe to serve people in need. Rouggly emphasized how important mission work and community service are to APU in upholding the university’s God First mission.

“APU’s original identity was as a training school for Christian workers. Today, service is one of our four foundational cornerstones. It is a blessing for the CSA to continue to uphold this legacy, strengthening students in their commitment to connecting with and serving alongside other people.”

Peter Cooley is a public relations intern in the Division of Strategic Communications and Engagement. He is a music education and honors humanities major, and performs in multiple ensembles at APU. Outside of work, Peter enjoys reading, hiking, and playing music.