CCO Celebrates 50 Years of Transformation

James Wilson’s Story Attests to the Long-Lasting Impact of the Coalition for Christian Outreach Mission

July 6, 2021

PITTSBURGH For 50 years, theCoalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, ccojubilee.org) staff members have spent countless hours on campus and built relationships with students by listening to any doubts and offering them new life in Christ. Through the commitment to transform a generation, numerous students have become connected to the Church and are now life-long disciples of Jesus Christ.

“By focusing on transforming college students to transform the world—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, reaching the world for the glory of God,” says Dan Dupee, former chairman of the board for CCO.

Today, in 2021, as CCO celebrates its 50th Anniversary, more than 300 staff and associates now reach students on nearly 140 campuses across the United States.

“From the beginning, CCO staff members don’t sit around in their offices waiting for students to knock on their doors,” says Dupee. “Rather, they meet students and interact with them in familiar settings on campus each day to introduce them to Jesus Christ and walk alongside them in their faith journeys.”

James Wilson,a freshman at Indiana University of Pennsylvania in 1971, the first year CCO placed staff on campus, attests to the far-reaching and long-lasting impact of CCO over the course of his life. This small-town boy from a blue-collar family, on campus for the first time, was looking to explore the “social freedoms” of university life. But the Lord had other plans, and James met CCO staff worker, Dave, who knocked him off course with a different set of priorities for James, which had to do with focusing on academics, focusing on relationships, and focusing on the fact that James’ view of God’s world was altogether too constricted. Dave showed James that if Jesus was Lord of all, He was Lord not just over James’ inner feelings and church life, but over all aspects of it.

“One of the things that Dave woke us up to is that the Lord is very much concerned with all of the rest of life, too. That was a great awakening for a lot of us,” said Wilson. This meant that Jesus was Lord of everything else, including whatever profession or vocation James thought he might eventually be interested in.

“I learned a number of years ago from a very, very persistent staff person that you do your work as unto the Lord,” says Wilson.

Today, James is an Assistant United States Attorney based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He started his career as a federal prosecutor in 1985, and prosecutes mostly white-collar crime, which involves insurance fraud, public corruption, tax offenses, and such. He also spent eight months in Iraq, helping to try people for war crimes.

He credits CCO with calling him to excellence. “So, when I would rather take an easier route, when I would rather relax a little bit, I have this nagging voice in the back of my head that my work is unto the Lord. And therefore, I end up having to do it in the best way I possibly can.

CCO has affected the trajectory of James’ own life, both professionally and personally. CCO has been that little voice in the back of his head that demands excellence, that demands faithfulness, and tells James that in the long run, people are important, and therefore relationships have a very, very high value.

Indeed, CCO has had a lifelong impact for James, who has stayed in touch with the ministry throughout the years, with law students and medical students and others. “I have been able to foster continuing relationships with people who are now professionals, professors at universities, ministers, and so forth. It’s been a great experience,” says Wilson.

“I learned that relationships with people, with co-workers, with family members, really ARE the sum and substance of life. I learned from CCO that those relationships don’t just happen; you have to work at them. And you have to be purposeful in relationships in a prayerful and intelligent way.”

For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. CCO staff are on the college campus every day, meeting students where they are—at athletic practices, in cafeterias, student centers, coffee shops, residence halls, and sometimes even classrooms.

But this is only part of the story. CCO alsopartners with local churches, so college students who connect to CCO ministries find themselves integrated into the life of their local church, where they worship in a multi-generational congregation, participate in Sunday school classes, and get to know church members over meals.

The college and university campus are the most strategic mission fields in the world, with only 2% of students being reached with the Gospel. CCO partners with local church congregations to help students feel a sense of belonging. A community is formed between the CCO staff and students, who are invited into the lives of local congregations. Through this community of fellowship, CCO is able to minister to the students in a life-changing way.

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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.