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 Copyright by Jed Smock 1985

Used by Permission

 Confrontational Evangelism on Campus

 Chapter 2


The Smocks are a very old and industrious American family. I represent the 10th generation in this country. Hendrick Matthyse Smock was 10 years old when he came to the New World with his uncle in 1654 from Utrecht, Netherlands. These "Knickerbockers" settled in what is now known as Brooklyn, New York. Hendrick married in 1668 and the couple joined the first Dutch Reform Church. He was a landowner and magistrate. This is typical of many of his descendants.

Hendrick begat Johannes who with his wife Catherine moved to Middletown, Monmouth County, New Jersey in 1712. Johannes and his son Hendrick II, explored and bought large tracks of land in the Miami River Valley in Ohio thinking some of their children might sometime want to settle in the West.

Hendrick II begat Henrick III who became a soldier and patriot of the Revolutionary War. In the basement of his colonial home he kept a cannon to announce the coming of the British and to alert "the county around." The British found the cannon and took Hendrick as a prisoner. The house was occupied by the British, his cattle and horses were confiscated, and Hendrick was financially ruined. He lost his fortune but God spared his life and sacred honor.

His son, Barnes Smock served as a Lt. Colonel in the War and fought at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778. On June 28th The American troops were in retreat, entangled in a swamp and demoralized, when General Washington rode up, dismissed the officer in charge, and by his personal presence rallied the men. He sent them back against the British and after a day long battle routed the enemy.

Barnes begat Archibald who married Lucy Cheesman, a Baptist. The Baptists were considered a bit strange in the strong Dutch Reform community of Monmouth County, but the family attended her church. They moved to Ohio in 1822 and eventually settled in Darke County. In 1845 Archibald and Lucy moved the family to Carroll County, Indiana. He never gained financially even though he had 12 children to support. He was looked up to as an educated man who was a school teacher and surveyor.

One of the families greatest tragedies occurred when Archibald's son and namesake was killed in the Civil War in the Red River Valley of Texas in a bloody encounter after peace was declared, but before word had reached Texas.

Another son of Archibald, Jonathan, was not a financial success, until my grandfather, James, when he was only 12 years old said to his father, "Pa, you are the best man with an ax in the county. I have learned to measure logs, you cut the trees. We will all haul them to the mill. We will buy land with the money and have a home." So it was done.

The Smocks went on to prosper in Indiana. My grandfather, James, whose energy and ambition never overpowered his sympathy and understanding, had a long and successful career as a farmer, banker, a Republican and a public official in Delphi, Indiana. An attorney friend eulogized him as, "clean in thought, word and act and his closest friends never had even a suspicion that James C. Smock would or could do an intentional wrong."

I was born in Brookings, South Dakota, January 4, 1943. My mother wished to call me George Edward after my father. He, in an effort to avoid future confusion, suggested the nickname Ged -- taking the G from George and Ed from Edward. I usually spell it Jed. Jed is a biblical name meaning "beloved of the Lord."

My father held a Ph.D. in English from Cornell University and my mother an A.B. from Syracuse University. Father desired to marry my mother, Charlotte Gelder, when she graduated from college in 1932. My grandfather had sacrificed to finance mother's education during the depression and he intended for her to teach the necessary three years to qualify for a permanent teaching certificate. This she felt obligated to do, so it was not until 1935 that my parents were married.

Mother's father, Frederick T. Gelder, Jr., a newspaper publisher and editor also served in the Pennsylvania Senate from 1924 to 1940 as a Republican from the 23rd District. By his last term he probably wielded more influence in state politics than any Republican of his day. At the time of his death, the Pennsylvania Senate and the House of Representatives passed resolutions honoring him: "His life, though quiet, was a service of guidance and influence upon his fellowmen. He, as a man of quality, a man of ability, a man of honesty, and a man of loyalty, and his life of simple Christianity, served as an example for us all."

My mother came from Anglo-Saxon stock. Her grandfather Frederick T. Gelder, Sr. emigrated from England in 1859 to America on the sailing vessel "Dreadnought," working his way as a passenger steward. He served in the New Jersey Cavalry in the Civil War. In 1862 his company fought for 32 days in the Shenandoah Valley as part of the Army of the Cumberland. Three horses were shot out from under him during the fighting. He received a medical discharge December 21, 1862. After the war he purchased a Foundry in Carbondale, Pennsylvania. In l866 he married Catherine Blake also of English descent and they built a three story Victorian home where they both lived until their death.

Mother never used that teaching certificate! She and my father spent the first 11 years of their married life in Brookings where he was chairman of the English Department at South Dakota State College. Father considered it his responsibility to provide for the family and while mother cared for her husband, three sons and daughter.

My father's interests and abilities were directed towards administration while also pursuing the scholarly pursuits of academic life. In 1946 he accepted the chairmanship of the Department of English at Indiana State Teacher's College in Terre Haute. Operating under the policy of only buying what he could pay for on a professor's salary, father provided a comfortable standard of living for his family. From him at an early age I learned a respect for books. To the chagrin of mother, father filled the house with them.

My father was active in the Methodist Church as usher, Sunday school teacher and board member. He lived a moral and upright life, coming home to his family every night. He did not smoke or drink or use profanity.

Although mother was active in church work and community organizations, she made it a point to be home when her children returned from school. Having graduated valedictorian from high school and magna cum laude from college, her education was not wasted for she devoted a great deal of time to instructing her children and helping with their homework.

Like my mother, my father honored his parents. His father died in 1926. His mother lived to be 102 years old. When she became feeble, my parents brought her into our home and gave her the master bedroom where she lived the last 10 years of her life.

Grandmother Smock was a devout Baptist who loved to tell me Bible stories when I was a boy. She regularly exhorted me to moral behavior by reminding me that there was "good blood in my veins" and that I should never do anything to dishonor my family heritage. Although for years I ignored her advice, when I finally converted my family heritage made it easier to conform to the Christian character because I had seen it in practice in my home. I never saw or heard of my father or mother or grandparents committing a single sin.

The only "vice" my parents had was a monthly bridge party with three other couples on the faculty. Three times a year the couples met in our home for dinner and bridge, but the "party" was over by 11 PM. None of them smoked and intoxicating beverages were never served in our home. Four members of that bridge club Elmer and Dorothy Porter and Jacob and Peggy Cobb, remain among my oldest friends.

My parents faithfully took us to church and Sunday school as we were growing up. However, the insidious leaven of liberalism had been slowly creeping into the Methodist Church for years to the point the teaching was no longer Bible-centered. I ignored the truth that was still taught by my teachers or pastors. My Sunday school teacher, Mrs. V.L. Tatlock, however, gave me some memorable advice: "When faced with a decision, ask yourself what Jesus would do under the circumstances." Regrettably, I rarely hearkened to her good advice.

After feigning my way through catechism class, I was baptized and joined the church like the other twelve-year-olds. I refused to make a heart commitment to God, and I more away from religion as the years passed.

At age 14 I went on a weekend retreat with the high school Sunday class. I refused to get out of bed for the morning devotions. Each night there was a time for discussion and one evening the minister brought up the subject of petting. Not having experienced intimate physical contact with girls, I was unsure of what he was talking about. The biblical standards of morality were not mentioned. This discussion sparked in me an immoral interest in girls.

My first experience in capitalism was in grade school. Fairbanks School was only one block from our house. Each day I rushed home, quickly set up a table and sold candy bars to my fellow pupils as they walked by. I bought the candy wholesale by the box and sold it for five cents a bar. In junior high school I had a paper route.

From grade school through high school my idols were baseball and basketball, especially baseball. From April through September I would faithfully listen to Bob Elsen broadcast the Chicago White Sox games over WCFL. Saturday afternoon I sat in front of the TV listening to Dizzy Dean relate the game of the week. It may have been during this time that the advertisement for Falstaff Beer implanted a taste for it in my subconscious mind. Sadly, the happiest event in my life during these years was in 1959 when Nellie Fox led the White Sox to the pennant. Mother used to get quite distraught with me because I referred to The Sporting News as my Bible.

My biggest disappointment was my failure to make the school baseball team. This was alleviated when the coach made me student manager. At Glenn High School the emphasis was on athletics, so if you were not associated with sports you weren't "with it." I did not want to be "out of it." What I did not know, was that what I needed was not IT but a person named JESUS CHRIST.

When I was 15 I began to recognize an emptiness in my life. Night after night I can remember lying in bed and thinking there must be a book to reveal what life is all about. Not once did I ever consider the BIBLE.

Although the Supreme Court decision of 1963 forbidding prayer and virtually outlawing Bible reading in public schools had not yet been passed, I don't remember a teacher, administrator or student ever suggesting prayer or Bible reading in high school except at commencement. No one ever talked to me about a right relationship with God.

Drunkenness, Dissipation and Debauchery

My freshman year I began to run with a crowd of juniors and seniors. One night when we were cruising Wabash Avenue and I was sitting in the back seat of the car, a senior riding in front reached into his pocket. He took out a half-pint of J.W. Dant Whiskey and took a short swig.

Turning, he said to me, "Try a drink." This is the closest I had ever been to an alcoholic beverage. I did not even know what it smelled like. Without a moment's hesitation I took a drink. Struggling to hold it down, I passed the bottle to a junior sitting next to me. The bottle went around the car several times. Deceived into thinking this filled my emptiness, I began drinking every weekend. By my 16th birthday I was settled into a life-style of drunkenness and dissipation. Despite such revelry, I graduated 11th in my class.

In 1960 I was a freshman at Indiana University. I joined the Delta Upsilon fraternity because they had the distinction of being the wildest "partiers" on campus. About half of the pledge class was already made up of heavy drinkers. My objective was to establish a reputation as being the biggest drunk in the class. By the end of orientation week, I had proven myself.

My sophomore year I purposed to out-drink the whole fraternity. By the end of the first semester I had accomplished my college goals. I did not know the biblical warning: "Woe to those who are heroes when it comes to drinking and boast about the liquor they can hold" (Isaiah 5:22 L.B.).

After a year and a half at Indiana University I dropped out and hitchhiked to California. In Long Beach I found a job selling encyclopedias door to door. One evening I made a two-hour sales presentation to a very attentive customer. However, I became very discouraged when at the end of my best pitch, the man informed me he liked the set very well but he could not read. That caused me to decide to give up my sales career and to resume college at Indiana State University. At Indiana State I mastered the art of cramming for examinations and carousing the rest of the time. I was able to maintain a good academic record and still party. The problem was that after the exam I could never remember the material. Nevertheless, I graduated with honors, majoring in social studies and minoring in English.

The only time I invoked the name of God was on Friday, "T.G.I.F., Thank God its Friday. I can go out drinking and not have to get up on Saturday morning." During this time, in deference to my parents, I usually attended church with them. I never heard anything from the pulpit to convince me of my sins.

After the final exams in my senior year I went directly to the bar. late in the evening two of my drinking buddies got into a fight outside the bar. Trying to play the role of peacemaker, I was punched in the mouth by a six-five, two hundred and fifty pounder, and slammed against a parked car. I woke up in the emergency room being stitched up in the face and the back of the head. The next morning, looking in the mirror, I was shocked and unable to remember what had happened. I called a friend and we laughed together as he related the whole incident to me. I still bear the facial scar.

Had I been familiar with God's Word, I would have understood the following admonition:

Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth its colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder. Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse

things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast (Proverbs 23:29-34).

That night I was back in the bar and the following words described me perfectly: "They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again" (Proverbs 23:35).

I led a double life throughout high school and college. My parents were shocked when upon my conversion I finally confessed to my shameful years of drunkenness. I was always careful to cover my sins. At home I tried to cooperate and be congenial. My mother to this day can't believe I was as bad as I have described. She always said, "Jed was a good boy."

Truthfully, my righteous acts were as "filthy rags" in the eyes of a holy God. He knew I had never done one good thing in my life because I had always been selfishly motivated.

In 1965 I secured a position teaching United States History at Highland High School in Highland, Indiana. Although there were a few dedicated teachers on the faculty, many of them were moderate to heavy drinkers. By moderate I mean that they only got drunk on weekends. I administered so little discipline in my classroom that it is a disgrace to the educational system they hired me again the next year. During those two years I completed my master's degree in United States History at Indiana State.

Bored with the night life in Northern Indiana, I decided to take the advice of the 19th century journalist Horace Greely, "Go West, young man, go West." I had the illusion of many Americans that if I changed location my life would be better. The problem with that philosophy is that wherever you go you take yourself along.


I turned myself to wisdom, madness and folly--Ecclesiastes 2:12



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