On Saturday, March 19, 2011, more than 3,500 high school students flooded onto West Campus for the 27th Annual Night of Champions at Azusa Pacific University. The event, co-sponsored by APU and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, began at 2 p.m. and included interactive games, an In-N-Out dinner, musical performances, and guest speakers, highlighted by Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Melissa Morris ’11 was 1 of more than 400 APU students who volunteered at the event. “I loved it, I remember going when I was in high school, and being able to be one of the ones helping with all of the games and interacting with the kids was a great thing to be a part of,” said Morris.
After the games and dinner concluded, students headed to the Felix Event Center for worship, led by contemporary group, The Katinas. Next, Nelson, who helped lead the Packers to a world championship, shared his testimony.
“When Jordy Nelson was asked if winning the Super Bowl had hit him yet, his response really stuck with me,” said Morris. “He said, yes, it has hit him, but it does not define him. He knows that if all he lives for is football, he’s not accomplishing anything. I feel he knows there is so much more to live for outside of football and knows that ultimately God is the one who he lives for and defines him.”
APU volunteer Sameer Sedam ’14 was assigned to escort Nelson during the course of the event. “It was an amazing night,” said Sedam. “I not only got to see a player from my favorite team share his testimony, I got to hang out with him and have a conversation with him about life. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Also speaking this year was Jake Olson, a 12 year-old USC fan, who had his left eye removed when he was only 1 year old due to retinal blasphoma. Leah Miller ’13 was deeply impacted by his testimony.
“I feel like the biggest moment of the night was when Jake Olson spoke about all of the things he has gone through in his life,” said Miller. “It was crazy to think that Jake is only in middle school, and he has dealt with more things in his life than most would normally face in their entire life. It was a very touching testimony and I feel that his experience definitely touched the kid’s hearts.”
The high school students were deeply impacted by the night’s events.
“I think it impacted the kids in a very positive way. The examples and testimonies that were given throughout the night were perfect and very fitting to the age group,” said Miller. “I hope the students got a lot out of the testimonies and see that they need God in their life to help them succeed and be the best they can be.”
Ed Barron lead the invitation to accept Jesus Christ and more 100 students stood and said “yes” to follow Christ. About 500 more rededicated their lives to Christ.
One thing for certain, this night will be forever embedded in many of the participants' and volunteers' lives.
“It was a great night. I’ll never forget this night. I can’t wait for next year’s Night of Champions,” said Sedam.