Monday, February 22, 2010


I was debating on whether to include my OPEN AIR PREACHING 101 "class" that I "took" recently with "The Granddaddy of Campus Preachers," Bro. Jed Smock. Well, "Bro. Jed," as he's known on campuses all over the U.S., wrote such an accurate report of my two days with him that I thought I'd include it here:

University of Houston, January 25, 2010

The university has designated free speech areas, which have traffic, but are not the ideal places to get the main flow. I held my YOU DESERVE HELL sign before I started preaching. Two Muslims asked me what it meant. We got into a discussion on the nature of Christ and the Trinity and the inspiration of the Bible. They were civil in their behavior.

After 10 minutes a girl, who had two months ago been converted from Islam, complained about my sign. She might have used the opportunity to witness to the Moslems; but this baby Christian was more interested in correcting me. She said she sinned every day.

Meanwhile, Bill H. arrived. Bill e-mailed me several days ago asking to join me for the day. He wrote, “I got fired from Campus Crusade (after 29 years) last summer for having adopted Ray Comfort's philosophy of evangelism. I was told this is incompatible with CCC's - which I'm sure is no surprise to you! We continue as missionaries in Brazil.”

Bill is home in Houston for the time being preparing to return to Brazil. He first heard me at Vanderbilt University in 1983. Bill took over witnessing to the ex-Muslim concerning our methods and on living holy. Meanwhile, I started preaching and eventually drew a crowd of up to 25. A loud-mouthed Christian girl helped draw attention by arguing vehemently against my sign. After a while a soft-spoken student asked to speak. He rebuked the students for opposing my ministry. “You should be glad that he is here,” he said.

I appreciated his support; however, since the loud mouth girl began arguing with him, as did a few others, his help soon became a distraction. So I moved about 20 feet and began preaching to a class break. Eventually, my defender left and I continued dialoguing with a group of 20 or so. Soon another Christian, who was not so soft spoken, began to defend me. However, the same problem arose as he too soon became a diversion.

About 2 PM I introduced Bill to the crowd as a missionary. He took the Ray Comfort approach of going over the 10 Commandments; he did pretty well at holding the students attention, but gradually individuals began leaving. Bill did stir things shortly when he referred to Mohammed as a pedophile. There were a few Muslims in the group. And there are a lot of Muslims on this campus; there were many females passing by wearing scarves. By 2:30 Bill had lost the crowd. I tried to once again get the attention of students. But by 3 PM I decided to call it a day so that I would miss the rush-hour city traffic.

Bill commended me for the way I humorously interacted with the students. He understands that wit helps hold peoples’ attention. Some who try to preach in the open air never learn to be witty; hence they do not hold attention for long, if they even get anyone’s interest in the first place. Bill shared with me that when he took a restroom break, before he entered the building, he overheard two students discussing my sign. When he was in the men’s room, he heard a student complaining about my sign. Another student said to the complainer that the sign was true; even though he did not agree with my approach. From these two examples overheard by Bill, well away from our preaching spot, I think that it is fair to assume that we sparked discussions about Hell and other religious issues all over campus, very likely even in the classroom.

I try to report daily highlights; but not only can I not tell you everything said and happening within the gathered crowd, I cannot begin to tell you what is happening in the Student Union, classrooms, hallways, dorms, and all over campus. There are even more discussions when students return to their family, homes and apartments. I know a lot of conversations start with, “Let me tell you about the crazy preacher I heard today.” However, from the feedback I have received I know that these conversations often turn into serious talk about the religious issues which I have raised.

Sam Houston State, January 26, 2010

Bill H. accompanied me to Sam Houston State. After about 30 minutes of preaching, I did not gather a crowd although some were listening at a distance. I was surprised because conditions were ideal with a bright sunny warm day and lots of students passing by and many others hanging around the plaza. A man asked if he could interview me with a video for a class. The interview only lasted for 10 minutes. I figured I would have to wait another hour for a break, but I questioned a girl about her belief in God who was sitting not far from me. She said she believed in God, but not the God I preached. She was raised a Baptist, but she claimed the church kicked her out for looking up when she prayed instead of bowing her head. I did not believe her. She then claimed that her father beat her with a rod on her back. I kept challenging her to define the God that she believed in. Meanwhile, students were gathering to listen to our conversation and some entered into the dialogue. Eventually, I drew a crowd of up to 35-40. For forty minutes the crowd was quiet, attentive and respectful. However, some began to get stirred and angry concerning my emphasis on Hell, including a few professing Christians. The man who interviewed me returned with his camera and stood in the crowd; and this time he asked me philosophical questions.

At one point an irate man got in my face complaining that he heard me from the other side of campus. I explained that it was the Holy Ghost carrying my voice and drawing him to hear the Word of God. Someone suggested that it was the wind. I explained that the wind is symbolic of the Holy Spirit. Actually, there was no wind today. Later the irate man calmed down and wanted his picture taken with me.

At 3:30, I introduced Bill H.; however the crowd was not done with me. Soon most of them came over to where I was sitting. Bill continued witnessing to a few. Later, Bill said, “Brother Jed, the students are drawn to you like a magnet.”

At one point Bill successfully chased down a girl who stole one of my signs that he was holding. Earlier I had to recover my chair which another girl had stolen. Bill later remarked that with all the Christians in the crowd none of them helped to recover the sign. I added that neither did they help recover my chair. Of course, most Christians cannot bear my YOU DESERVE HELL sign; so maybe they were glad that someone tried to take it out of the picture.

On our drive to campus Bill informed me that he was a Calvinist. This did not hinder our fellowship or ministry together because both of us are focused on winning souls. Also after spending three decades in CCC, Bill is used to working with people of a different theological perspective.

What I took from my time with Bro. Jed was my need to memorize scripture more and learn how to keep a crowd interested while remaining biblical. Thanks, Bro. Jed!

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