On Saturday, April 10, all past participants of Azusa Pacific University's Mexico Outreach were invited to attend a banquet in Upper Turner Campus Center to celebrate the history of this ministry program, which brings together North American churches and APU students for service in Mexico each year.
This year marked the 40th year since founder Carolyn Koons and APU expanded Mexico Outreach to include not only APU students, but also any church group that wanted to participate. Now, more than 2,000 people participate annually. The celebration also enabled the university to say "thank you" for how God has used these amazing people to serve the people of Mexicali over the past four decades.
Azusa Pacific University President Jon Wallace, DBA, opened with an offering of thanks to the Lord, and Peter Neumann, who led worship at Mexico Outreach for years, took the audience back to Mexico through a reverent time of worship.
The evening included video clips from trips through the decades for old friends to reminisce about and remember how Jesus changed lives through this ministry.
Nationally-known speakers and musicians from the past were present including Ron Cline, ambassador for HCJB Global; Ridge Burns, executive director/CEO of the American Missionary Fellowship; Rick Givens, director of alumni relations at APU; and Fernando Alcantar, director of leadership development for young people for the UMC California Pacific region.
Two free tickets were given to each church in recognition of their participation with Mexico Outreach in hopes of encouraging the churches to come and receive an award of thanks from APU.
"What an amazing evening of celebrating 40 years of God-first work in Mexico! To see people who have been involved for decades and to hear stories of lives changed was a testament to what a blessing it can be to be involved in advancing God's kingdom on Earth," said Matt Browning, associate vice president of internationalization. "We will not know this side of eternity how many lives have been impacted by APU's Mexico Outreach program."
Browning introduced Koons and her colleagues involved in the ministry from the beginning, including Cline, Amelia Rattan, Happy Dean, and others.
The evening concluded around 7 p.m. with a casual time to tell stories and chat with old friends over coffee and dessert.
See more memories and photos on the Mexico Outreach 40 Year Celebration Facebook fan page.