Dong’s Work with Students Illustrates CCO’s Mission of Transforming Lives through the Love of Jesus Christ
August 2, 2021
PITTSBURGH— The Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) bestowed The Excellence in Evangelism Award on CCO staff member Li “Dolly” Dong, who exemplifies the mission of CCO in her untiring work with hundreds of Chinese International students each year at Ashland University.
The students, who arrive at the small campus in a small town in the middle of Ohio, are far from home and have many and varied needs. They are greeted with a helping hand, loving heart, and warm welcome extended through the CCO and its well-organized network of local believers from First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Ohio. At the center of this network of love is Dolly.
The Excellence in Evangelism Award honors a staff person whose life and ministry are marked by relentless evangelism— sharing the Good News of Christ, witnessing to His faithfulness, calling to repentance, and inviting others to respond and receive new life.
Dolly, who derives great pleasure in demonstratingwhat it means to be the hands and feet of Christ, welcomes the students, introducing them to the One who meets our every need. She estimates that, similar to the early church, 90-95% of the international students know next to nothing about Christianity. So, she begins to show them in small, meaningful ways, what Christianity is all about.
“Students always ask me, ‘What is God?’ or ‘What is Christianity?’” Dolly explains. “So, we have to go slow. They might come from the Buddhist or Taoist culture, but they don’t really know what religion is. So, we don’t start with religion. We start with friendship. We start by asking, ‘What is your name? What is your major? What do you need?’”
One student needs a microwave, another some help with her English, and others rides to Bible study and the grocery store. Dolly pulls out her cell phone and gets to work reaching out to her network of volunteers and makes the needed connections, then drives around town, gathering food for the weekly welcome meal for Chinese international students.
When presenting the award, Lee Scott, Director of Staff Services, said of Dolly’s service, “She knows that Jesus is the only thing that can save college students and is the only thing that will fully satisfy their hearts. She continued to share the Gospel even in the midst of Covid by her relentless hospitality for others. She shows Christ’s love in a broken world by opening up her life and ministry to all those around her.”
For the international students as well as the CCO volunteers from First Presbyterian Church who minister to them, CCO’s mission of “Transforming College Students to Transform the World by Calling Them to Serve Jesus Christ with Their Entire Lives” is more than just a catch phrase. It is a very practical and often painstaking process of planting the seeds of the Gospel. And sometimes those seeds are very, very small.
Though this ministry to Chinese international students is a slow and patient work, Dolly and the Christians in Ashland continue to do their part. Step by step, need by need, meal by meal—and seed by seed. Most encouraging is this thought, adapted from the third chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3:5-7):
What is Dolly? And what is First Presbyterian Church? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each their task. Church elders planted the seed, members of a Bible study watered it, but God has been making it grow. So, neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
College can be a time of upheaval for many students, who, cut adrift from their familiar moorings – their family and home church, if they even had one – struggle to find their own way. The Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) becomes a helpful resource, ministering to college students at this important time in their lives, and providing a sense of belonging, direction, and purpose.
For 50 years,CCO staff have reached out to college students by entering into their world. But this is only part of the story. CCO partners with local churches, so that 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 percent 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 students in a life-changing way.
To learn more about Coalition for Christian Outreach, and how individuals and churches may become involved with CCO on university and college campuses, visitwww.CCOJubilee.org.
To interview Li “Dolly” Dong 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.