Updated: May 10
I was a student at Allegheny College in the early 1970s when I first heard the gospel message.
John Guest was touring with his rock band, and my best friend had a renewal of faith through that ministry. She started talking to me about Christ, and I didn’t want to hear it. It got to the point that I would hide from her when I saw her walking across campus. She kept reaching out to me, and it almost destroyed our relationship.
I would describe my college self as a ’60s cynic and an intentional atheist. I was considering being a philosophy major, and from my junior year of high school, I was working out this atheistic worldview. I’d had a very bad experience with the church, and that triggered for me an onset of rationalism. I couldn’t trust the church, and I didn’t have the ears to hear—or I never really heard the gospel.
But then my ears opened, and that changed everything.
A lot of people were praying for me, and my friends gave me a book called Know Why You Believe, which addressed a lot of my doubts. I was either going to surrender to God or go into a black hole of existentialism. I had a profound experience where I looked into that black hole and thought, “I can’t live with this.” I found myself laughing, because I was constantly arguing with a God that I didn’t think existed. That’s when I said, “I’ve got to surrender.” And then I felt this immediate sense of relief and excitement.
At about the same time, a young man named Bob Wauzzinski had arrived on campus, working as an itinerant campus minister for a newly-formed organization called the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He and I started reading through Francis Schaeffer’s Bible studies together, and that was when I finally began to comprehend the fullness of the gospel message.
I was gripped by the whole story. I had surrendered to God, but didn’t really understand the big picture until then.
I connected to the CCO-sponsored fellowship group on campus, Allegheny Christian Outreach, in its formative stages. What really gripped me was seeing the logic of an integrated perspective of my faith. I think I would have fallen away without the vision of this thing that was going to demand my whole life. I was an all-or-nothing kind of person. I couldn’t stand logical inconsistencies—anything less than that whole-life kind of gospel wasn’t going to speak to me.
Beside’s Bob’s mentoring influence, the regular contact with itinerant CCO staff worker Pete Steen was essential to my faith development. If it hadn't been for Pete’s ministry at Allegheny, and at the conferences that his work with older staff started, my involvement with CCO would not have continued. I lived for his weekly classes. They helped me sort through a lot of marginal and actually secular perspectives I was being taught, and they gave me a truly biblical “creation, fall, redemption” perspective of the gospel.
This integrated worldview has informed my life ever since. After graduating from Allegheny, Bob and I started dating and eventually got married. I earned my undergrad degree in psychology, but my real vocation has been as an educator. I served for a time as the CCO’s Director of Training, and I helped found the Pittsburgh Urban Christian School, which operates out of an integrated Christian curriculum.
The time I spent with the CCO, as a student and a staff person, shapes how I approach nearly everything I do. As I worked on campus and as a regional director, I owe a lot to Bill Painter's insightful and freeing supervision. It shaped my own growth as a believer, parent, and leader. It keeps me trying to find ways to express who I am and who the Lord of my life is in ways that are acceptable to express, even in a public school.
I think it was crucial for me to come to Christ in college because of the way my mind works, I was very ripe for the picking for somebody. I would have picked something else to commit my life to. It might have been drugs, or I might have given my life to an idea, like Marxism or a philosophy which would have countered the idea of God.
The CCO approach was uniquely suited to reach a student like me. I’m not sure I would have come to Christ through another kind of campus ministry. I appreciated and responded to the academic integrity of the CCO. That was huge for me.
—Christy (Buxton) Wauzzinski, Allegheny College 1974 | November 12, 2008