CCO’s EveryPraise College Student Talent Show Highlights Students’ Faith and Artistic Abilities

CCO Encourages Artistic Expression as a Form of Praise to God

June 7, 2021

PITTSBURGH Every year, the Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO, ccojubilee.org) Multiethnic Ministry Department hosts EveryPraise, a college student talent show and late-night option for the Jubilee Conference, which is one more way CCO reaches out to college students to enter into their world.

Considered a highlight of the weekend, EveryPraise showcases college students at the intersection of their talents and faith on the Jubilee stage, a result of CCO’s emphasison encouraging artistic expression as a form of praise to God.

This year’s talent roster is no exception, and one student’s entry in EveryPraise21, a poetic tribute to his mother and grandmother, drew critical acclaim—as well as tears.

During the summer of 2020, DJ Maxwell-Garcia, a student participating in the CCO’s Encounter Fresno experience, struggled with sadness as he kept to himself during a hike with his housemates. When the group stopped to look at a waterfall, DJ sat there thinking and praying as he stared at the water streaming around the boulders. At that moment, to his great surprise, inspiration struck.

“I was just watching how the water was going around everything, and how there was no rock or boulder that could stop it,” Maxwell-Garcia says. “The water continued to push forward. And later, as I was writing, I realized it was a God thing, because I knew it wasnt about the water anymore.”

God brought his mother and his grandmother to mind, and DJ realized that they—like the water—had spent their lives moving around the rocks and boulders of their lives with power and grace. A poem came together in his mind:

Stream among stone

the rest of the world can only imagine to be like you.

Do what you do and survive what you were put through…

And as you keep going

the world takes no second to pause and admire your fluidity

just like you don’t take a second to pause and admire yourself.

I’m hurt at how often you are overlooked, taken for granted, underappreciated, and so many more things that don’t fit you.

But that’s the best part

because Stream Among Stone, I know you know your worth…

Stream Among Stone, you are beautifully and wonderfully made.

Made in God’s image. Made by the One who holds all creativity and detail in the world.

You are a gift, both to look at and to know.

Your value is so much more…

The weight of the world on your shoulders.

The pressure of expectation in your lower back.

But the strength of the Holy Spirit flowing through you…

I will always value you.

And I can never forget the sight of you.

Stream Among Stone, you are beautifully and wonderfully made.

— excerpt from “Stream Among Stone” by DJ Maxwell-Garcia

DJ shared his spoken word poem with his CCO mentor and his housemates, and it was highlighted in CCO’s 2021 On Campus Magazine; it was ultimately submitted and chosen for EveryPraise. When it was accepted in December, DJ sent the video to his mother and grandmother.

In January, weeks after she received her beloved grandson’s tribute, DJ’s grandmother passed away. At her funeral, DJ read another piece he had written, and an uncle pulled him aside. “We never knew that you had something like that in you,” his uncle said with awe.

In late February, DJ watched along with his mentor and friends as EveryPraise premiered. They watched him bring glory to God as he honored the strong women he loved. And yes, there were tears.

To watch DJ recite his poem in EveryPraise21, along with other student performances, visit ccojubilee.org/everypraise21

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

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 a CCO spokesperson 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.