By Kyle Wittenrich, WC Reporter
MACOMB, IL – Campus Students for Christ (CSC) is a Christian organization that has been serving the Western Illinois University (WIU) campus for over fifty years. With their resources, they provide a safe space for Christian students, with the intent of spreading the gospel to surrounding areas.
During my time as a WIU student, I have driven past the CSC building countless times, but it never occurred to me to stop by and take a look. At the beginning of the 2023 semester, a friend of mine told me about CSC and encouraged me to attend their Sunday worship service. I agreed to check it out. The minute I walked into the place, I was greeted by at least five different people. During the sermon, the minister spoke about the struggles that college students face on a daily basis, which hit home for me. My eyes were opened to a whole new side of WIU. Craving to understand more about this group, I contacted one of its ministers Jesse Patton and asked to interview him. Without hesitation, he agreed and met with me the next day. From our conversation, I learned the history of CSC, the services they provide, and the legacy they want to leave.
During my conversation with Patton, I was able to learn a little about how CSC came to be. In 1969, John Weber, future president of CSC, was given permission from the university to start the organization. CSC began hosting Bible studies and started an annual supporter’s banquet. With their funds, they were able to purchase a house on Adams Street in Macomb in 1975. This house provided the group with meeting and office space, as well as housing for students. Soon after that, CSC purchased an apartment building on Riverview Drive. Ever since then, the building on Riverview Drive has become the main meeting place for CSC. In 2015, the organization received a loan to construct a sanctuary space attached to the apartment building. One year later, the building was finished and events began taking place in it. Over the years, CSC has been able to increase their services by going on mission trips, planning special events for students, and staffing multiple full-time ministers.
Something that truly caught my ear when listening to Patton was the low-cost housing they offer. The goal was to help students financially and to provide a safe, academic-focused area for them. A student does not have to be a Christian in order to rent an apartment. CSC just asks for tenants to be involved in the organization some way, which includes either volunteering at events or helping with the Sunday services.
CSC also serves WIU students through worship events. They host two worship events every week at their sanctuary. The main service takes place Sunday and the follow-up service with small groups takes place on Wednesday evening. The Sunday service even starts at 5:00 p.m. to let students catch up on their sleep. These events generally have musical worship followed by a sermon.
Mission trips have become an important aspect of CSC. The purpose of these trips is to travel to either a low-income area or a place that was recently hit by a disaster to aid their community members. The group has traveled all around the state of Illinois and even to other countries. Later this month, CSC is traveling to Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Kentucky to repair homes for low-income residents. From these trips, they hope to show people God’s love through their generous service.
In order to fund worship events, mission trips, and compensate full-time ministers, they accept donations from alumni and local churches. A board made up of CSC alumni and Macomb-area church leaders oversee the finances and approves the spending. Although, Jesse assured me that the true power lies in the students’ hands. Student members are encouraged to meet and voice their opinion of where they would like to see CSC. After all, the majority of the organization is made up of the student body.
Toward the end of my conversation with Jesse, he told me some of CSC’s goals for the future. It is always a main focus for them to grow in numbers. They want WIU students to understand God’s love and provide them with a safe and welcoming environment. Their motto, which comes from former director Charles Furguson, and was emphasized during the sermon I attended, is “Everybody is a somebody in Christ’s Body.” From the interactions I had with the group, I could tell they believe every word of it.