Coalition for Christian Outreach Partners with Local Churches to Transform Lives through the Love of Jesus Christ
September 21, 2020
PITTSBURGH— Throughout the year, hundreds of Chinese international students arrive at Ashland University, a small campus in a small town in the middle of Ohio, far from home and with many and varied needs.
Fortunately, a helping hand, loving heart, and warm welcome are extended to the newcomers, thanks to Coalition for Christian Outreach (CCO) and its well-organized network of local believers from First Presbyterian Church in Ashland, Ohio. They share the pressing charge, as well as the God-given opportunity, to be the hands and feet of Christ, welcoming the students and introducing them to the One who meets our every need.
At the center of this network of love is CCO staff member, Li “Dolly” Dong, who estimates that, similar to the early church, 90-95% of the international students know next to nothing about Christianity.
“Students always ask me, ‘What is God?’ ‘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.
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, 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.
CCO has found that 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. This gives students a vision for serving Jesus Christ in their studies, jobs, communities, and families.
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.
For more information about Coalition for Christian Outreach, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.