Four years ago, Alisa Sanchez met Jesus. Someone at the shelter where she and her infant daughter were staying explained the gospel, and the direction of Sanchez’s life changed. Despite challenges, she began pursuing a college education, but she grew frustrated by the judgment of her classmates when they learned of her faith. She dreamed of transferring to a Christian university. When she toured Biola, she felt the presence of God and the love of community, and she knew she wanted to attend.
And then the Covid-19 pandemic upended life.
“I let [my admissions counselor] know my concern with being able to transfer was really big because I was no longer getting a stable income,” Sanchez said. “My dream of coming to Biola was becoming a nightmare, and I was really, really disappointed. And she let me know there was another scholarship opportunity.”
That opportunity was the Hope in Crisis fund, a fund that came into being early in the pandemic when Biola Board of Trustees member Becky Andrews (’84) and her husband, Duane (’85), reached out to the university and offered a $1 million gift — if and only if the Biola community would match their gift dollar for dollar.
“In general, we really enjoy giving aggressively when the Holy Spirit leads,” Duane Andrews said. “We go hard at it. It felt like the right time with all of the uneasiness and insecurity out there for Biola and the world in general. We felt like we could add a little bit of security, a little bit of comfort and stability in a very unstable time. We also firmly believe in the matching funds concept.”
The Hope in Crisis fund was established to help ensure incoming and returning students affected by Covid-19 would be able to receive a Biola education. The Andrewses’ match was announced, and the Biola community rallied to the challenge, not only meeting but exceeding the match. By the beginning of the fall semester, 373 families contributed. With the matching gift, they gave a total of $2,946,473 that directly assisted 587 students.
“I wasn’t surprised,” Duane Andrews said of the total amount raised. “I believed they were going to do it. I had no doubt that God was going to provide. No doubt. And a huge thank you to the people who gave to meet the match. It was a joint deal. If the matches didn’t come in, we weren’t going to give the amount. The natural tendency is to tighten up, but the Holy Spirit can loosen your heart to see the other side. This is maybe a season you need to be more aggressive with your gifts that God’s given you.”
That aggressive giving of gifts is a blessing to students like Sanchez, who would not have been able to attend this fall after her income was disrupted by the pandemic. When she received word she’d been given an additional scholarship through the Hope in Crisis fund, she cried.
Her daughter is 4 now and may not fully understand all that’s happening, but Sanchez is grateful for what God’s provision and her Biola education will mean for both of their futures, she said.
“I think she’ll be proud of me and appreciate that the struggles we’ve gone through, and will go through, are to show God’s glory,” she said.