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 Copyright by Jed Smock 1985

Used by Permission

Confrontational Evangelism on Campus


Chapter 12



In October of 1976, Max Lynch and I were preaching in Illinois and discussing the presidential election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Brother Max said, "Wouldn't it be great if we could preach to the candidates?"

"Why not," I thought. Moses preached to Pharaoh, Elijah to King Ahab, John the Baptist to Herod, Paul to King Agrippa. Why couldn't we preach to these great men?

The next day we went to Southern Illinois University. When we arrived at the free speech area a crowd of thousands had gathered. Upon inquiry we found out that the candidate, Jimmy Carter, was scheduled to speak at noon. An open-air platform had been built for the occasion. We circled the crowd praying in the spirit and finally stopped under a big oak tree behind the platform.

Brother Max said, "Here, Brother Jed, hold my Bible." Then he began to climb the tree. Soon he was high in the tree, mostly covered from sight by the foliage. Soon, the Carter entourage, with some of the top state and local politicians, drove up in limousines. They took the platform and when Jimmy Carter opened his mouth to begin his speech a voice from the tree top cried, "REPENT!"

Carter was startled. I could imagine the secret service reaching for their guns.

Carter addressed what he considered the issues: inflation and unemployment.

Brother Max yelled, "What about abortion? What about the rising crime rate? What about drunkenness and dope addiction? What about divorce?" Brother Max knew that these and other sins were leading to the breakdown of American society. He wanted the professing "born-again" candidate to address the sin issue. Jimmy Carter had nothing about sin in his notes and, becoming very frustrated, he cut his speech short. He and the other politicians then sped away from the scene.

Hundreds of people then gathered under the tree to see who had interrupted their political rally. Several were so enraged that they climbed the tree determined to get him down. One woman got out on a limb and grabbed Brother Max's coattails, attempting to pull him from the tree. He became concerned about the woman's safety so he agreed to come down if she would stop pulling.

When Brother Max dropped from the lowest limb, the police had to form a wedge to whisk him away from the angry crowd. They took him into a room in the administration building until the crowd dispersed.

Then I began preaching at another location on campus and many regathered to listen.

Then next day Brother Max's feat received the main headlines in the newspaper, VOICE FROM THE TREE TOP CRIES "REPENT!" A photograph pictured him with a broad smile as the police were escorting him away from the mob. Candidate Carter took a back seat in the news. Thanks to Brother Max's stand and the media coverage, the students' attention turned from politics to the Word of God. Mission accomplished!

Radicals Versus The U.S. Navy and Special Forces

The tree top incident is just one of those occasions when we have been able to upstage other events which the media had planned to cover. Typically, it was the result of a spontaneous move of the Holy Spirit and no premeditation on our part.

The same was true when we arrived at the University of Oregon in 1984 and found about 25 students protesting around the U.S. Navy recruiting table. The rebels were armed with propaganda signs, gory war pictures and a volunteer who laid in front of the Navy table with ketchup on his body. Most students were ignoring them but as the TV cameras arrived, Cindy started calling the protestors sissies, cowards and socialist dupes. Within seconds a crowd of 100 had gathered.

I declared, "Peace is very precious to the Christian but freedom is even more precious. The price of liberty is costly. The freedoms we enjoy in this country were baptized with the blood of Americans at Bull Run, Gettysburg, the Argonne Forest, Corregidor and Vietnam. If we are not willing to support the military that helps defend our liberties, then our ancestors shed their blood in vain and there's no hope for our posterity."

We got the headlines in the evening news and in the student newspaper the next day.

Our Largest Crowd

Syracuse, New York has given me the most extensive news coverage. Since Syracuse University is a private institution, I had to get a permit to speak. Reluctantly, the administration gave me a permit from 12-2 p.m. outside of Hendricks Chapel. Campus security watched intently as an estimated crowd of 700 to 800 quickly gathered.

At one point a student threw a pie shell filled with shaving cream into my face. The director of security tackled and detained him. I continued preaching until another student appeared from the crowd, grabbed the Bible from my hand and pitched it into the crowd tearing several pages from it.

Even though I made a deliberate attempt to avoid some of the more provocative issues, the crowd was in an uproar. The emergency medical crew from the university ambulance had arrived on the scene. The crowd had closed in and it appeared that I would be mobbed. The administration ordered the police to move in and stop me for my own safety. Cries of outrage echoed from the crowd as police and university officials escorted me into the chapel. Eagerly, the students reached for my pamphlets as the police whisked me away. When the crowd dispersed, officials took me to my car and I drove on to the University of Massachusetts.

Two years later, in the fall of 1984, I called the Syracuse University chaplain again to request a permit to speak on campus. The administration refused to grant me permission to speak outside because they feared that riotous conditions would result. I was offered the use of Hendricks Chapel. The officials granted me the permission to speak outside on the steps of the chapel to draw the students' attention and then I had to move inside for the remainder of the afternoon. I contacted the student newspaper and it printed front page notices the day before and the day of my arrival.

There was a crowd of 200 waiting to hear me when I arrived on campus. Within the allotted 10 minutes the crowd increased to several hundred. About 200 followed me into the chapel and I preached and reasoned with them until 5 p.m. I commanded those who wanted to get right with God to walk to the altar. The chapel went silent as two students answered my call. Michele, a freshman, and Ethan, a sophomore, said they had been saved previously but "backslid" away from God at college. The Syracuse Post Standard quoted Michele as saying, "When you go to college and have all this freedom, it's the devil's chance to attack you."

The next day we were disappointed to find that we could not start our meeting until 2 p.m. because the chapel was scheduled for another group. Cindy and I talked of going to another campus because students tend to leave campus early on Friday afternoon.

We had an interview scheduled with a reporter in the chaplain's office at 12:30 p.m. so I decided to keep the appointment and supposed we might have a good teaching session with a small crowd of interested students afterward in the chapel.

When I opened the chapel door at about 1:45 p.m. to step outside, I was stunned to see 2,000 students covering about half the quadrangle and another 200 on the steps waiting to hear me. This was the largest crowd ever in my ministry.

I fired both barrels in my allotted 10 minutes and turned and marched through the doors up to the pulpit with the multitudes right behind me. Some were carrying beer and others were smoking. They quickly filled the 1,200 seats in the auditorium and packed the aisles. Police estimated the crowd at 1,500. The fire marshal came out as a safety precaution. Uniformed and plain clothes police were scattered throughout the building and several lined the platform to prevent the students from rushing it. The police chief sat in the choir loft overseeing and directing his forces.

Cindy started preaching and a few boys exposed themselves. Three balconies of students were stomping their feet and waving their arms the way fans do at sporting events. The chaplain asked if we really wanted to go through with it. I assured him that we did. He graciously offered to try to calm the throng. He reminded the students that I had the right to be heard. I preached and gradually more and more students stopped heckling and started listening.

After two hours we brought all but a dozen students under control. Finally, I used the tactic of divide and conquer. I announced that Cindy would take questions from the girls at the pulpit left of the platform and I would answer the boy's questions at the right.

When a few boys went over to Cindy's side, she answered one of their questions. The girls immediately chastised her for disobeying my instructions in taking a question from a boy.

Cindy retorted, "I can make an exception for him because he is a sissy. That is why he is over here with the girls."

Cindy continued to battle with some contentious women.

I had a crowd of attentive men until our permit expired at 5 p.m. As we wearily walked down the chapel steps several students congratulated us for our stand,

We marched on to the University of Vermont.

One reason a relatively few radical students and professors in the sixties were successful in transforming the campuses was because they were able to get extensive media coverage. Typically, our preaching was the leading news story in the campus daily and often we received front-page coverage in the city newspaper.

Below are just a few headlines from the hundreds of articles that have been written concerning our campus ministry:

*"IT'S EXCITING WORK," SAYS SIDEWALK EVANGELIST, The Indiana Statesman, April 9, l975.



*THE PREACHER AND THE DAMNED, Rutgers Targum, October 15, 1979.

*JED SMOCK, MESSENGER OF GOD?, The Cornell Daily Sun, October 18, 1979.


*PREACHER MAN COMES TO SAVE CSUF FROM HELL, The Daily Collegian, March 21, 1980.

*FIERY SERMON RIPS STUDENTS, DAMNS LIFESTYLE, The University Daily Kansan, August 18, 1980.

*JED SMOCK HAS RETURNED, The Kentucky Kernel, November 10, 1981.

*BROTHER SMOCK CREATES CONTROVERSY, The Ashbury Collegian, November 11, 1981.

*BROTHER JED CASTIGATES STUDENTS; THEY LOVE IT, Minneapolis Tribune, June 6, 1982.

*PREACHERS THROWN IN JAIL, Daily Kent Stater, September 16, 1982.*1000 LISTEN TO THE GOSPEL, College Heights Herald, October 2, 1982.


*EVANGELISTS FILL A NEED, Daily Titan, February 9, 1984.

*JED AND CINDY: HUCKSTERS FOR GOD, Arizona Daily Wildcat, February 16, 1984.



*JED AND CINDY ARE BACK TO SPREAD THEIR WORD, The Daily Reveille, April 9, l987.

*SIN IN THE SUN, Kentucky Kernal, April 18, l989.




*THE RETURN OF THE JED, Florida Flambeau, December 3, l991.

*BROTHER JED RETURNS TO URGE REPENTANCE, The Stanford Daily, April 13, 1992

Besides the news articles, letters to the editor, pro and con, will follow for days. Once a friend sent me a total of 21 articles and letters written to the editor over a three-week period. They were the results of three days of ministry at Penn State. These articles and letters are like putting a tract in the hand of each student, faculty member and administrator.

At the University of Florida, a heckler tried to steal my billfold out of my back pocket. I turned and kicked him in the pants as he took off running. An alert photographer snapped the picture and it appeared the next day in The Gainsville Sun along with an article. The end of the article stated that "Rev. Smock will be speaking at the Holiday Inn at 7:30 p.m. tonight." This was $200 worth of free publicity for my meeting! A number of townspeople came out that night who otherwise would not have known about the service.


World News Tonight

The National News has televised us twice and often we are covered by local T.V. News. Peter Jennings introduced Cindy and me to the viewers of World News Tonight "as Evangelists with sharp edges." We are frequently interviewed on call-in radio programs.



In May, 1983, in the campus edition of Newsweek Magazine. Newsweek acknowledged our campus circuit. The magazine published a color picture of me "raising God's army and battling for souls at the University of Texas, Austin."


The Rolling Stone

The Rolling Stone magazine did a feature article entitled, "College is Hell" in the March 27, l986 issue. Despite the obvious attempt to caricature us, the author did quote us correctly. We valued the coverage much more than if Christianity Today or some other Christian publication had done a story. The Rolling Stone is the Bible of the rock generation. Its readers are the very ones we are trying to reach.


Sally Jesse Raphael

In l988 we appeared on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show to respond to an atheist group who led people into a public renunciation of their baptism experience. We quickly informed the atheists that they were headed for Hell. Atheism and the practice of "debaptism" are far too blasphemous for the average sinner so for the first segment the crowd sided with us. The atheist made the old claim that the Bible was filled with contradictions, but could come up with no examples. He showed his utter ignorance when he stated the Bible claims the world was created in four days.

We could have easily kept the audience's sympathies had we been content to condemn atheism, but those in the audience giving merely lip-service to God would have continued on the path to hell.

So we began to question the salvation of the audience which soon turned against us and forgot about the atheists.

Cindy's aggressiveness frustrated Sally who had met her match. Before the show Sally had instructed us not to be concerned about being rude and to feel free to interrupt. "This is not church," she said. But at the conclusion of the show an exasperated Sally said, "Because of the way you have treated my audience I will never have you on my show again."

The mail I received after the show was 70 to one against us and the telephone calls 10 to one. The typical letter began something like this, "I am a born-again Christian, but I was appalled at your judgmental, unloving and discourteous performance." But despite all the criticism most admitted we spoke the truth. We knew we had spoken the truth in love.

The producer told us as we left the television studio, "Don't be concerned about Sally saying, you couldn't be on the show again, that was just Hollywood."



The next year when Donahue wanted to do a program on life after death, Sally's producer, who had left her to work for Donahue, asked me to be on the panel. I appeared with an atheist, a reincarnationist, a Roman Catholic priest, and an universalist. Despite the gravity of the subject, there was much levity and lightness. One man who called me "Mr. Hell," wanted to know why I had not cracked a smile and others wanted to know why I was unhappy.

I answered, "Jesus was a man of sorrows and he taught blessed are they that mourn. I am grieved because so many are going to hell, and so few on this program are taking it seriously. Most people think more about where they will spend a two-week vacation than where they will spend eternity."

We must take advantage of every opportunity to get our vital message to the public. Sometimes we have to be outrageous in order to get the attention of the media. If Christians will take a firm stand for righteousness and truth, I am convinced that they will be presented with opportunities to proclaim the truth over the media without buying time. We have a provocative message, but most Christians are too dull to get unbelievers to listen, much less the national media. Christians have been neutralized by the fear that they will be ridiculed for their witness. And of course if we are bold, we will be mocked and parodied, but still, the truth goes forth and some will see through the media tactics to disparage our simple faith.

The religious media has taken a limited interest in our crusade. Pat Robertson invited me to be on the 700 Club. My testimony has been published in Voice Magazine, the Gideons' International magazine, the Texas Herald Magazine and Power Magazine. The coverage by the Christian media has enabled me to exhort Christians to be bolder in their witness.


Charisma's Criticism:

In June, l993, Charisma featured on its cover "The Hard Truth About Hell." The associate editor, Nancy Justice, introduced the three articles with the following column:

"When I was a student at the University of Florida, one of the less welcomed signs of spring was the annual visit from a traveling campus preacher and his flamboyant wife. They may have had good intentions, but the couple did everything right to fulfill the perfect stereotype of overzealous hell fire-and-damnation preachers."

Nancy Justice continues, "They held their open-air revival meetings in a grassy plaza in front of the UF library. Stomping back and forth in front of a crowd of amused college students, the couple would emotionally describe the horrors of hell. Since their sermons didn't change much, students often joined in gleefully to recite gory passages about eternal punishment."

"Sometimes a brave soul from Maranatha Ministries or Campus Crusade would challenge the couple and try to share a more balanced gospel message. But most Christian students, disgusted or embarrassed, did their best to ignore the circus," Justice recalls.

What Nancy Justice apparently did not know is that we often received our best support from Christians associated with Maranatha Ministries. A number of years ago when the Maranatha pastor at the University of Iowa introduced us to his congregation, about half of them indicated that they probably would not have been converted if it had not been for our campus witness.

Finally, Justice takes care to assure her readers that, "The purpose in devoting an issue to such a sobering topic is not to condemn or frighten our audience. Hopefully, we all will be motivated to share the gospel with those around us who are heading toward eternity without God."

Of course not, she would not want to condemn or frighten anyone! Most charismatics wouldn't. But maybe Justice needs to have some fear of God. Preachers in the Bible constantly warned men that they were already condemned because of their sin. What motived Paul to share the gospel? "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences" (2 Corinthians 5:11). Should not anyone "heading toward eternity without God" be fearful? Is it not part of the gospel that those without God are condemned? Paul appealed to conscience in order that men might acknowledge their guilt and condemnation.

Mark Rutland, pastor of Calvary Assembly of God in Winter Park, Florida, author of one of the featured articles in Charisma bewails, "the snide cynicism of the modern Western church with regard to hellfire and brimstone preachers." It is remarkable that Justice after commending Rutland's article to Charisma's readers succumbs to "snide cynicism" herself by disparaging our pungent and lurid preaching. The pathetic reality is that the charismatic churches for which Nancy Justice is a spokesman usually despise judgmental preaching even more than the world does.


An American Legend

Dave Gross, an editorial writer for the Mustang Daily, the student paper at California Polytechnic State University, expressed a better understanding of my approach and message after my visit to his campus in February l991:

"As much as I like my sex, drugs and rock 'n roll (or perhaps fornication, intoxication and devil music), I must say I learned a lot from the recent preaching by Brothers Jed and Bob in Cal Poly's union plaza.

Punctuating his speeches with uncompromising condemnation of fornicators, masturbators, sodomites (by which he means homosexuals), whores and whoremongers (by which he means everyone else) and a whole host of other categories that are guaranteed to cover the entire student body wherever he and his troupe land, he draws crowds that few other speakers can match.

His religious agenda, being mostly predictable, conservative Christianity in the mold of Jimmy Swaggart, with a healthy dose of the old female-sexuality-as-the-downfall-of man-kind, no-tolerance-at-all-for-namby-pamby-"God-is-Love" preachers, is hardly the point.

He has become an American legend. A worldwide computer network monitors his progress. He has spawned a flock of fans who, in comparison to the fanatical followers of the Grateful Dead, call themselves "Jed-Heads."

After Brother Jed had completed his famous 'Parable of the Five Dormies,' he turned to me out of all the people in the crowd and handed me a copy of Who Will Rise Up? that he was reading from.

I took the book, expressed sincere gratitude, and wondered why he picked me out of the crowd to bestow this gift upon. Maybe it was the way I shouted 'for-nigh-cay-shun!' Maybe it was the feigned sincerity with which I asked how I might overcome my lustful feelings. Maybe he knew I wanted to read that book and see for myself what drove this man to preach the way he does. Maybe it was dumbluck.

I quickly discovered from reading his book that Brother Jed is no fool. When he's preaching he may come across as a sex-obsessed neanderthal, but his writing is clear, deliberate and obviously the product of an above-average intelligence.

Is he a loony? Well, OK, so maybe he is. And maybe I shouldn't be taking him so seriously. But there is undeniably a method to his madness.

When he attacks everything students hold dear (and number one on that list is his favorite target, fornication), it is not just an explanation of the tenets of his faith. It is a deliberate attempt to anger and upset the crowd.

This is especially clear when there are times when he could easily be diplomatic and yet he deliberately turns a phrase that many find offensive. Most often baited in this regard are feminists, who find many of their worst accusations about men being advocated, nay trumpeted, by Jed in their own exaggerated language.

'Women need to be put in their place,' he says. 'They should be baby machines.' Where did he find that phrase? Not in any Christian book, but instead in caricatures of American religion written by its most offended and horrified critics, and he has adopted that caricature as his own.

And nobody can argue that it doesn't work. The crowds he gathers are as angry, rude and ill-behaved as any mob that ever vilified any prophet. And so later in his speech, when he talks about how today's students are obnoxious and have no morals...well, you can't really argue.

And he's been doing this for years. He knows just what to expect from his crowd. Every clever comment anyone in the audience makes is one he had heard dozens of times before. You can't impress him with clever comeback, and you certainly can't out-Bible him.

When he uses hellfire and brimstone phrases, it is no nervous trick of his that he exaggerates them and accompanies them with bizarre hand gestures. It is a deliberate attempt to bait his audience into mimicking him--and it almost never fails.

It is a little disheartening to realize that all the time I was in the crowd yelling out clever phrases and screaming about 'PRO-MISK-YOU-US WIMMEN' that as noisy as we we were in the crowd and as independent-minded as we wanted to sound, we were just the orchestra, and Brother Jed was the conductor.

Brother Jed's strange monologues gave me plenty of opportunity to feel superior. But in fact, every clever comeback, every satirical comment, every biblical objection that the crowd voiced that day was expected, prepared for and, indeed, summoned forth intentionally by Brother Jed's antics.

Students of group behavior would be well advised to study the mobs that gather whenever Brother Jed speaks. And Jed's book, Who Will Rise Up? is more than just a work of biography and theology. It ought to be a required text in any course on crowd control, sociology and mob behavior."

Today's headlines, of course, wrap tomorrow's garbage. Therefore, eternity may prove the most effective media coverage to be the college year books. We have received pages of displays in numerous annuals. People do not throw away their year books. One can imagine a student 20 years after graduation thumbing through his annual and seeing a picture of Brother Jed preaching and the Holy Spirit using this to quicken the Word to his mind and convict his heart.


Besides those things that without . . . the care of the churches --II Corinthians 12:28.



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