Torrey theme put into action during AS Serve Day
Junior Ann Teichert and senior Emily Ganzfried prepare an ice cream sundae for a Union Rescue Mission visitor. | Ashleigh Fox/THE CHIMES
Early Saturday morning, 103 students gathered outside of Calvary Chapel for Serve Day. Serve Day is a day set aside for Biola students to serve the Los Angeles community. In preparation for the day, words of encouragement were given by preacher and author Francis Chan, who in a personalized video encouraged students to triumph over fear and anxiety with the authority of Christ. After some more empowering statements from associate dean of Spiritual Development Lisa Igram, the students gathered on buses heading toward the Dream Center and The Union Gospel Mission. With Torrey Conference fresh on their minds, chatter filled the air as the scenery through the bus window changed from a campus of familiarity to a big city of opportunity.
Appropriate follow-up for Torrey Conference
Serve Day this year was scheduled to follow the 77th Annual Torrey Conference, applying the ideas of Torrey Conference’s theme in a tangible way. Though Serve Day was not planned around Torrey, it seems that the timing was anything but coincidence.
“Everything has been working out with Serve Day, including the timing of it,” said senior Jessica Jesudasen, Coalition for Social Action coordinator. “Like they were saying in [the] conference, the heart of God is reaching to the least of these and that is all we want, to teach students that and give them resources to connect.”
Students did just that as they ventured beyond Biola with a mission to proclaim the name of Christ.
One of the three locations was the Dream Center, located in downtown Los Angeles. What used to be a hospital is now a shelter that provides aid and discipleship to those struggling with homelessness, addiction or abuse. This recovery center has been called the Dream Center for 18 years; it was founded in September 1994 by Tommy Barnett with his son Matthew, who originally launched the Los Angeles Dream Center as a church and community outreach project. On this particular Saturday, the Dream Center was transformed into Santa’s workshop. Biola students eagerly worked together to wrap more than 1,000 gifts that will be given out to underprivileged children during the holiday season.
“This was a great opportunity for Biola students to work together from this place to the heart of LA and affect the surrounding communities,” said junior communications disorders major Sierra Falco.
Other students reiterated her excitement as Christmas songs were sung and presents were wrapped for roughly three hours.
“I was so blessed that we could make these people feel special and valued because they are,” said Tayllor Lemphers, sophomore public relations student. “What a practical and simple way we can spread the love of Christ and affirm their identities in him.”
Students serve across Los Angeles
Less than four miles away, the Union Rescue Mission opened its doors for 25 Biola students to participate in an ice cream social for the underprivileged individuals of the Los Angeles area.
World Impact, a local organization, welcomed the smallest group of Biola volunteers, consisting of ten students and two student leaders. The team partnered with a neighborhood kids club reaching children ages 4-16 with games and a hot dog cookout. This group of Biola students was able to proclaim the gospel to the children and their families, some of whom had never heard the good news before.
“I began to realize all of my blessings and the impact we can have in the lives of children simply through playing and spending time with them,” said senior journalism major Sarah Song. “I would do it again in a heart beat.”
The end of Serve Day looked very similar to the beginning. The students still had a look of sleep-deprived exhaustion, but there was something different. The topic of conversation had changed. There was no longer talk of expectations or anxiety. Instead there were discussions of the ways Christ was exemplified around the Los Angeles area.
“My original hope was that students would come and realize they enjoyed serving,” Jesudasen said, “but it goes way deeper than that to the core of who we are as Christ-followers.”