Student Spotlight: Sarah Potts Shares God’s Love Through Community

Sarah Potts ’24 loves cultivating community as a resident advisor (RA) in Azusa Pacific’s University Village. While being away from home can be challenging for students, Potts strives to provide a welcoming environment for her residents so they feel seen and known. She gets to know each resident, learning their names and birthdays at the beginning of the semester and she sends them encouraging texts throughout the year. Potts also hosts monthly breakfasts where students can drop in and enjoy a free meal while catching up on life. “Pancakes with Potts is always a lot of fun. That’s how I became friends with many of my residents,” she said.

“Serving with hospitality and cultivating community in my court is a really fun way to do ministry.”

As a Christian ministries major, Potts is passionate about sharing her faith. She served as a children’s ministry intern at her church, Hillside Community Church in Rancho Cucamonga, for the past three years. “I got to preach these little sermonettes sharing Biblical stories. When I first started, I was nervous because I felt like I was learning alongside the kids. It really resonated with my childlike faith and helped me grow.” Potts means this literally.

Potts didn’t grow up in a Christian household. Until she graduated from high school, she had never considered going to church. “I didn’t think church was where I belonged. I hadn’t seen God in my life,” Potts said. After declining several invitations from her friend Jayden Zwerner ’20 to go to young adults ministry at Hillside, Potts finally decided to give it a try. Although she was nervous at first, she quickly became interested in the pastor’s sermons and decided to continue attending services. “I was a history major at Chaffey at the time and I loved hearing the Bible stories and drawing the bridge between academia and biblical history,” she said. “After a month of going to young adult ministry and asking the pastor questions, I realized I was starting to believe.” One night, the pastor delivered a sermon about Saul turning to Paul and the redemption God offers. “I felt like he was talking directly to me. He did an altar call and I stood up and accepted God. After that, I dove head first into ministry. The joy of the Lord has changed me. I would not be who I am without my faith and the opportunity to worship God.”

Becoming a Christian led Potts to decide she wanted to transfer from Chaffey College to a faith based institution. Since she had many friends from church who went to APU, it seemed like a natural fit and when she visited campus, she knew God was leading her here. At APU, Potts changed majors and fell in love with learning more about the Bible in an intimate class setting. “I really liked my classes at Chaffey at the time I was in them, but now I see how big those classes were. A couple courses had more than 100 students,” she said. “At APU, the classes are much smaller and I’ve built great relationships with my professors. I feel really cared for by all of them because of their intentionality.” Potts said professors like Justin Marc Smith, PhD, and Frederico A. Roth, PhD, have challenged her to grow her critical thinking skills while teaching her how to understand Scripture. Potts enjoys sharing coffee with them while having deep conversations about faith and life. “They’re both phenomenal. They really take the time to get to know you and help you achieve your full potential.”

As Potts heads into her senior year, she’s still figuring out what she wants to do after graduation. She had planned on becoming a youth pastor for a time, and even served at a Hume Lake camp where she was told by multiple pastors that they would love to have her join their church’s youth ministry. Potts is also considering working in young adult ministry.

“It’s such an important area that’s often forgotten," she said. "Without young adults' ministry, I wouldn’t have become a believer. A lot of churches don’t have young adults’ ministry even though that’s a time people tend to lose their faith. I see a deep need for that and I’ve felt the Lord putting it on my heart strongly.”

For now, Potts is focused on enjoying her senior year. Balancing being an RA with working in the Student Services Center while being a full-time student isn’t easy, but Potts loves both her jobs and her classes. As a first generation college student, she doesn’t take anything for granted. “When I started college, I thought everyone does this and it’s not a big deal. But I remembered how college wasn’t in the cards for my parents and how some people would give anything to get an education like this,” she said. “I constantly remind myself what a privilege it is to get a college education.”