Former Atheist Says of CCO: “I’m Not Sure I Would Have Come to Christ through Another Kind of Campus Ministry”
July 19, 2021
PITTSBURGH —“From the very beginning, 50 years ago, Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, ccojubilee.org) staff has met college students and interacted with them every day, in familiar settings on campus, in order to introduce them to Jesus Christ and walk alongside them in their faith journeys,” said Dan Dupee, former Chairman of the Board for CCO.
To do this, CCO staff and associates “find” college students where they are—at student centers, athletic practices, cafeterias, coffee shops, residence halls, sometimes even in classrooms. CCO is there to offer them the prospect of new beginnings through Christ.
For college student Christy Wauzzinski, a ’60s cynic and “intentional atheist,” a new beginning was an understatement. She previously had very bad experience with the church, triggering an onset of rationalism. Because she couldn’t trust the church and didn’t have the ears to hear—or had never really heard the Gospel—she was working out her atheistic worldview and contemplating being a philosophy major.
Christy’s friends began a good work in her life by praying for her and giving her a book on Christianity that changed her life. She had reached a crucial turning point: “I was either going to surrender to God or go into a black hole of existentialism.”
Through the grace of God, Christy chose to surrender to God. That’s when CCO also came alongside Christy to help her understand and comprehend the fullness of the Gospel message. She joined the fledgling CCO group on campus, and through the mentoring and teaching of CCO staff, she was able to sort through a lot of marginal and secular perspectives she was being taught; CCO gave her a truly biblical “creation, fall, redemption” perspective of the Gospel. It was exactly what Christy needed, at exactly the right time.
“The CCO approach was uniquely suited to reach a student like me. I’m not sure I would have come to Christ through another kind of campus ministry,” she said. “I appreciated and responded to the academic integrity of the CCO. That was huge for me.”
“I was very ripe for the picking for somebody. [If not for CCO,] I would have picked something else to commit my life to. It might have been drugs, or I might have given my life to an idea, like Marxism or a philosophy which would have countered the idea of God.”
Because college is such a transitional time in their lives, college students are exploring new ideas, trying on new identities, and weighing what they have been raised to believe with a whole range of new philosophies and worldviews. This can be a positive experience, or it can be disastrous.
“This is why it is so important to reach out to students in their college years,” says Dupee, “and also why it’s so crucial for CCO to partner with local church congregations to help students feel a sense of belonging. Our vision is to see a generation of college students transformed by the power of Jesus Christ and His Gospel, in partnership with the local church,” says Dupee.
In this way, a community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited and welcomed into the lives of local congregations, where they worship in a multi-generational setting, participate in Sunday school classes, and get to know church members over meals. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to students in a life-changing way.
Today, the college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2 percent of students being reached with the Gospel. CCO has grown and expanded its offerings in the 50 years since Christy was a college student. Today, in 2021, CCO has over 300 staff and associates who reach out to college students on nearly 140 campuses across the United States.
To interview Dan Dupee or for more information about the Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.