College Students Thankful for Sense of Belonging and Spiritual Growth through Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO)

College Students Thankful for Sense of Belonging and Spiritual Growth through Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO)

“Transforming College Students to Transform the World by Calling Them to Serve Jesus Christ with Their Entire Lives”

August 24, 2020

PITTSBURGHCollege can be a time of upheaval for many students, who, cut adrift from their familiar moorings – their family and home church – struggle to find their own way.

It is in this space that 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:

“Transforming College Students to Transform the World by Calling Them to Serve Jesus Christ with Their Entire Lives,” as their website states.

The Coalition for Christian Outreach’s mission is a simple one:

  • Share the Gospel with students and develop passionate disciples of Jesus Christ.
  • Serve together with the church and invite students into the lives of local congregations.
  • Give students a vision for serving Jesus Christ in their studies, jobs, communities, and families.

So, instead of taking a four-or-more-year hiatus from the church, students involved in CCO ministries find themselves integrally involved in the life of a local congregation.

One recent college graduate, Dale Hogan, experienced the support from the CCO program in college. His story begins in high school, when he suffered a traumatic brain injury while playing first base during a high school baseball team tryouts. He subsequently experienced a miraculous recovery, followed by an unmistakable calling from God to become a physical therapist.  [Watch his moving testimony here].

On March 20, 2011, Dale stepped out onto the field to take his position for baseball tryouts, “not knowing my life was about to change, or even that change was needed.”

He remembers a little about the incident: “A bad throw from the short stop…  I remember the crazy bounce of the ball right over my glove into my left temple… the pain…I remember my mom forcing me to go to the ER. I remember the parking lot and the triage table…”

Then he doesn’t remember anything for the next month.

In Dale’s words,

“Following brain surgery, I was left in a coma for a week, and after that, I was paralyzed, mute, unable to eat, and mentally incognizant. When I began to come around, I was in a state of disbelief, hurt, and defeat; and I began to settle for the notion that my life was over. Doctors had no idea what to expect for my recovery, but did convey that I had a tough road ahead. I was brought to the lowest point of my life. Thankfully, prayers and support came to me immediately from family and friends.

It was through their faith that Dale found the inspiration to begin praying.

Although I did not know Jesus Christ at the time, I was experiencing the faith my loved ones had in God, so I decided to give Him a shot as my last chance for hope. Little did I know, this glimmer of hope would be all I needed to have life, and have it to the fullest. After praying for awakening from this apparent nightmare, something huge changed in my heart, and I experienced a resurrection into new life every day going forward. 

Following this experience, Dale’s recovery was so complete that he was fully able to return to his usual routines – his studies and his baseball career.

“I was so fortunate to be able to continue doing what I loved; I was “back to normal,” as some may say. However, I was far from the Dale Hogan that I used to be.”

As Dale completed high school, he sensed God’s call for him to pursue a career in physical therapy. Having been blessed with a miraculous recovery, he felt led to “pay his blessings forward,” and in the fall of 2013, began a six-year program in Physical Therapy at Duquesne University in order to minister to others who were in the same position he had been.

At Duquesne, he became involved with Crossroads, the CCO fellowship group on campus. Through Crossroads he found a church to attend with dozens of other college students in the city of Pittsburgh, where he began (and continues) to serve on the worship team playing drums. His experience with CCO gave him the opportunity to become a student leader and exercise leadership in ministry.

During his time in CCO leadership, Dale met his future wife, Ellena, and they continue to look to CCO weekly for discipleship and marriage preparation as they eat together, pray together, and talk through all the joys and challenges of life united to each other in Christ.

Dale also credits his experiences on a Jamaica mission trip with Crossroads as helping to deepen his faith life, along with his practice of attending every CCO Jubilee conference he could, even after he graduated.

 “God has given me a story of hope, and I know that He will use that to reach other hurting people through this path that He has set me on,” says Dale.

“Even when a path includes a bad bounce, God is still abundantly faithful. So don’t be afraid to step up to the plate when He calls.”

The college and university campus is the most strategic mission field 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.


To interview a Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) representative, contact, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.