Today at an all staff meeting I realized the total value of my undergraduate education at APU. At APU I received more than just a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, I had “real world” experiences. APU provided me more than an education; it provided me an environment dedicated to putting God first and to embracing “hot topics” that most Christian environments shut out, such as homosexuality and racial reconciliation, and equality. APU taught me about real topics – Kingdom topics – that Christians need to discuss and think about because they are in our face everyday in the “real world.”
My time at APU encouraged and allowed me to further pursue my interest and passion for gender equality and feminism that I developed in high school. It gave me safe environments and group interactions to argue and cry and debate diversity issues and sexuality issues and way the Church interacts in the world and is seen in America. This type of education – social and cultural education – is priceless. Living and being in a place where worship and chapel are part of life and bible classes are required and social vulnerability is encouraged, all of that is priceless.
APU prepared me for the “real world.” It enabled me to intelligently and humbly discuss and debate gay rights, civil rights, and female rights. These conversations also allowed me to make up my own mind and learn to accept that not everyone will agree with me. I talked and learned and shared about improvements for the American Church and how Christians can impact the world through good deeds and personal relationships rather than standing on street corners passing out pamphlets to strangers. I also learned the difficult lesson (and truth) that no Christian is perfect. We are all just as hypocritical as people think we are and we all hurt much more than we show. I learned the painful lesson that Christians disagree on tons of topics from bible interpretations to gay marriage to creationism vs. evolution to traditional beliefs vs. charismatic beliefs. I learned that Christians come in all types, but our starting point needs to be that we have accepted Jesus Christ. I learned that these divisions among Christians confuse even those who are very solid in their faith, let alone the ones who wake up each day thankful that God’s mercy is renewed. I still haven’t figured out how to come to terms with these differences in theology in a respectful, yet lovingly peaceful way, but at least I have started the process.
APU gave me a priceless experience and journey for three and a half years as an undergraduate, and is still, through my job and grad school. It is true what people say about private Christian education, it is an expensive way to pay for a framed piece of paper, but the experience of living on campus, being involved in extra curricular activities, and going to chapel are all priceless. It was worth every penny and every difficult growing pain along the way.