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 Copyright by Jed Smock 1985

Used by Permission

Confrontational Evangelism on Campus


Chapter 9


"Brother Jed, since you have been on this campus you have been mocked, ridiculed, spat upon, shoved and even and a pie thrown in your face. I understand on other campuses you have been punched and arrested. Do you ever get fearful for your life?" asked a reporter who interviewed me at Ohio University.

"Young man," I answered, "In the days of the Wild West in Dodge City, Kansas, there was a cemetery called Boot Hill. It was called Boot Hill because they used to bury (with their boots on) the gunslingers who shot one another in the streets. This is how I want to go. With my guns a-blazen and my boots on!"

At another university a dear Christian sister tearfully said, "Brother Jed, I feel so badly for you when I consider the way you have been treated on campus."

"Oh sister!" I replied, "You should not feel that way. The Apostle Peter explained, "If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified (I Peter 4:14). The more the students insult me, the more of his glory God bestows upon me. They are speaking evil of God but all the more God is being glorified through me."

Jesus encouraged us when he said, "Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in like manner did their fathers unto the prophets" (Luke 6:22,23).

Her tears turned into laughter as I began to joyfully leap and jump.

If the prophets were persecuted for their faith, why should we expect different treatment in the 20th? Paul exhorted young Timothy, "Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands." We need to rekindle the inner power of the Holy Spirit that is within us and not be afraid or ashamed to testify about our Lord. We are admonished: "Be thou a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel," Paul exhorted (II Timothy 1:6,8). In this generation we have majored in the blessings of the good news; it is time we at least minor in the sufferings of the Gospel.

The Bible teaches us: "By faith, Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter" (Hebrews 11:24). He disdained to be considered a "King's Kid." It is high time baby Christians grow up like Moses who chose "to suffer affliction with the people of God" (verse 25). Instead, so-called Christians are choosing the comforts of this world seeking respectability and rejecting the crucified life. Moses esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than all the treasures of Egypt" (verse 26). Today's "believers" exercise their faith to appropriate the wealth of Egypt (the things of this world--new cars, a bigger salary, a new house) and scorn the stigma of the Gospel.

I heard a Lutheran clergyman say, "In America we don't suffer persecution because we live in a country that has religious freedom." He was right about the fact but wrong about the reason. Indeed, there are a few who are suffering persecution for their faith because most who profess the name of Christ are not taking the kind of stand that they ought. The Bible says: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12). Instead of persecution they seek the soft flesh life-style.

When believers live holy and separated lives, persecution will surely come their way. For example. parents and preachers who have exercised their inalienable right to separate their children from a God-fearing state school system, have been jailed in America. Churches have been padlocked because pastors refused to bow their knees to Caesar. Christians have been arrested for demonstrating against baby murdering factories called abortion clinics. While many college professors openly mock God and deride Christians in the classroom, my associate Max Lynch was fired by Indiana State University for reading the Bible to his students. Alas, the Lutheran minister was essentially correct--examples of persecution are exceptional. Most who profess to be Christians are not bothered by the world because they do not bother the world.

Jailed in Indianapolis

Although the main thrust of my ministry has been the university campus, I have preached in front of high schools, on main streets, public beaches, at county fairs and at rock concerts. Generally one may preach in public places without hinderance from the authorities. Although the Constitution guarantees free speech in public places, sometimes local police fail to recognize this right. As a result I have been arrested on so many occasions over the years that I lost count a long time ago.

One day I was preaching on Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. A policeman interrupted me and said that a permit was required to preach on the city streets. It is important to cooperate with the authorities, if possible. Therefore, I went to the city controller and he informed me that a permit was not needed to preach on the public street, because this was a constitutional right. Quickly I returned to Monument Circle but a jazz rock group with loud amplifiers was playing on the steps of the Episcopalian Church. The demonic chords resounded around the circle. I was angry that God's building was being dishonored by Satan's minstrels. About a hundred people had gathered to listen. When they played their last song, I walked on to the church yard, pointed my finger at the musicians and church and pronounced judgment crying, "Ichabod--the glory is departed from this church!"

I stepped back to the public sidewalk and continued preaching to the crowd. The priest, flowing in his gown, came out to investigate and I sharply rebuked him for permitting the building to be used by the devil. He ran back into the church and evidently called the police because in a few minutes two squad cars came screeching to the curb. The police again insisted that I needed a permit to preach. I replied that the city controller had said that a permit was not necessary. The police then commanded me to stop speaking.

But I responded as Peter and John did when they were ordered to stop preaching in Jerusalem: "Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For I cannot but speak the things which I have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19,20).

The police then threatened me with arrest. Again, I answered as the apostles, "I ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). However, they thought I ought to obey them so I was handcuffed, thrown into a paddywagon, taken to jail and put into the "tank" with a motley bunch of criminals. An old wino was passed out on one of the benches. I remembered that Jesus had said these signs shall follow them that believe, "In my name they shall cast out devils (Mark 16:12). I laid my hands on a wino and commanded the devil, "Come out in the name of Jesus!" The wino was startled and jumped to his feet.

Turning around, I warned the prisoners that thieves, drunkards, dope fiends and perverts would have their place in the LAKE of FIRE.

Soon the jailer rushed back and said, "Preacher, we are going to put you in solitary confinement."

I was slammed into a cell by myself.I remembered that Paul and Silas when they were put in jail prayed and sang praises unto God. So I fell to my knees and prayed, "God, get me out of this place," and I sang hymns. Later the jailer came back to photograph and fingerprint me. As we walked the corridor to the other end another prisoner thrust his hand through the bars and said, "Preacher, I want to shake hands with you."

Later, I was put back in my cell. I called to the man whose hand I had shook and asked, "Are you a Christian?"

He replied, "I am now. While you were praying and singing, I asked Jesus to save me."

This made my day! After four hours a friend arrived with money to bail me out.

The next day in court I thought the judge would surely be a reasonable man. I supposed that I would explain about the permit and he would dismiss the case. The arresting officer was there to witness against me. When I gave my side of the story, the haughty judge interrupted me asking, "What are you doing in Indianapolis anyway? There is plenty of sin in Terre Haute."

"You are right there, Your Honor," I answered, But the Bible says 'Go into all the world and preach the gospel.'"

The judge said, "Why don't you go into one of the church buildings? That is what they are for."

I answered, "The buildings are places to come out of the weather and worship God in some comfort but Jesus said, "Go into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in that my house may be filled (Luke 14:23).

"Compel?" the ill-tempered judge snapped.

"This is what the Lord said."

"I have heard enough." (Evidently, the judge was being convicted by the Word). "Guilty! That will be a $25 fine."

"I want to appeal this decision."

The judge then stated the bail and had me incarcerated again until Max Lynch got the money together to bail me out. Meanwhile, I was able to lead another soul to the Lord.

Determined to get my message out on the streets of Indianapolis, I returned to the city controller to clear up the matter of a permit. But again he insisted it was not required. He did write a letter for me which stated a permit is not necessary to preach the Gospel on the streets of Indianapolis. I returned to Monument Circle and started preaching with my Bible in one hand and letter in the other. Within minutes a policeman approached me but I showed him the letter and he said, "Okay" and walked away.

I preached the Word unhindered for several days after that. I did not press my appeal since my right to preach had been established. It had cost me $25 but two souls had been saved from sin and hell.

Whether in city parking lots, at the street corners or on the campuses, calling sinners to repentance always creates NO SMALL STIR!

Mobbed at Kent State

At Kent State University the crowd became especially agitated and angry. Jim Gilles, a young evangelist, preached with me to a group of about 500. The more rowdy students threw forks and beer cans, spit at and mobbed us. Finally the police warned us that if the crowd did not quiet down, we would be arrested. They reasoned that it was easier to do something about us than the crowd. The enraged students became more violent. Suddenly we were both arrested. On the way to jail the officer apologized and said that he was not sure he had done the right thing and that he agreed with our message and liked the way we went about it.

The next day in court I appealed to the judge for an immediate dismissal of the case since the police admitted we had been arrested for our own safety. This time we had a fair judge who dropped the charges. That afternoon we travelled east toward the next university.

Two years later, in the fall of 1984, I returned to Kent State where the crowd reaction was considerably subdued. Dean John Binder, who had courageously tried to protect me from irate students on my last visit, told me: "There is a conservative trend on the campus since the last time you were here. You may well have contributed to it."

Vindicated in New Orleans

At Tulane University a friend and attorney, Tom Elkins, accompanied me. Since Tulane is a private university, I preached on the public sidewalk in front of the campus. The campus police ordered me to stop but I informed them that I was within my rights. Next the city police came to the scene. They asked me to get in the car and Tom Elkins climbed in also. When Mr. Elkins tried to explain our rights, we were placed under arrest, driven downtown and ticketed.

The police did not bother to show up in court to testify against us so the judge dropped the case.

Mr. Elkins was quite upset over the violation of our constitutional rights and requested an apology from the police department. When they refused, he sued the City of New Orleans for $90,000. The case was settled out of court and we received a letter of apology and $1,000. The Apostle Paul appealed to his Roman citizenship when he was unlawfully bound. Thank God as Americans we still have freedom of speech but we must stand up for this freedom.

Triumphant Stand at Valdosta State

Our arrival on campus is often a shock and the campus authorities are usually inexperienced with handling such large crowd situations. We are very willing to explain our intentions and purposes to the authorities and conform to reasonable rules and regulations. The conflict arises when they absolutely deny our freedom of speech. If we insist on our rights and continue preaching often another campus is opened to public preaching. This is what happened when businessman and Bible teacher Norval Hayes accompanied me to Valdosta State University in Georgia.

After a few minutes of preaching the chief of security ordered me to stop.

Whereupon I turned to 50 students and questioned, "Don't you have freedom of speech on this campus?"

The students yelled, "We sure do," and they began shouting at the chief, "Go back to your office, we want to hear the preacher. Go back to your office."

The crowd had doubled to 100 students when a uniformed policeman came to assist. By the time another policeman arrived there were 200 students. Then a dean cam out and another dean. By this time we had a crowd of 250. When the vice president of the university arrived, I was in the middle of a crowd of 300 students, three policemen and two deans.

The vice president diplomatically said, "Reverend Smock, you come to my office and we will get this matter worked out privately."

I knew I had an advantage with 300 students continuously chanting, "Go back to your office. We want to hear the preacher."

I said to the vice president, "I am sorry, sir, but I don't feel led to do that."

"What do you mean you don't feel led?" asked the baffled administrator.

"I believe God wants me to stay out here with my class in 'Christianity 101, Basic Fundamentals of Christianity.' But if you agree to let me address the students, I will go in the cafeteria and talk with you for 15 minutes."

Reluctantly he agreed. In the cafeteria I shared my testimony and ministry with him.

He seemed impressed and said, "As I promised, you may speak now, but it will be a miracle if you can get a crowd after two o'clock on this campus on a Friday." (Evidently, many students customarily left early to go home for the weekend).

"No problem," I replied, "I believe in miracles."

Only a small group had waited around but as I started preaching the crowd built up to a few hundred. I called on Norval Hayes. God had spoken unto him and said, "These students don't know how to praise the Lord, show them how to praise." He fell to his knees and began to praise the Lord. The students were becoming convicted of sin.

I asked the crowd, "How many will pray that God will bring a revival to this campus?"

Those that volunteered joined hands with me. There must have been a hundred students in the prayer circle. Then I said, "Anyone who wants to get saved, pray after me." The courtyard was filled with prayers of repentance toward god and faith toward Jesus Christ. Opening my eyes, I recognized the vice president in the crowd praying, afterwards he congratulated us on our message and said that we were welcome on the campus anytime. He only requested that we let him know the next we were coming.

Since this incident I have returned several times to minister at Valdosta State. The administration has faithfully cooperated. The vice president was promoted to the Board of Regents of the State University system in Georgia. The Word says: "For promotion cometh not from the east nor from the west, nor from the south; but God is the judge: He putteth down one and setteth up another" (Psalms 75:6,7).

The Streets of Richmond, Indiana

Many who are converted through a street ministry initially have a zeal for outdoor witnessing. Yet once they gain respectability in the pulpit or pew they soon forget where they came from. The Lord has never allowed me to do this. Like Terre Haute, most Americans cities have a parking lot hangout similar to the one where Clyde Swalls first witnessed to me. These cesspools of sin are filled with idle youth ripe for evangelism but largely ignored by timid Christians.

In August 1983, Cindy and I went to Richmond, Indiana for a week. I was scheduled to speak in three churches. Friday night after service a large group from the congregation followed us out to a shopping center parking lot where we preached to the youth who were cruising the streets in revelry. Immediately we got the attention of several hundred bored juveniles who soon became very excited and angry. The police watched for awhile then one of them told me there was a problem I informed him that there sure was a big problems with these drunken, doped, rock 'n rolled and sex-crazed delinquents roaming the streets but we were part of the SOLUTION. Though the police and community are satisfied to maintain a high level of tolerance for the wanton youth, God will not tolerate sin and neither should Christians!

Finally the police ordered us to go over to the other side of the parking lot and if the youth followed us we could continue preaching. I agreed, moved a block away and began speaking. within 15 minutes the crowd followed us and the police left the scene. The next night Christians from other churches met with us out in the lot for another stirring time of evangelism.

I was very impressed with the enthusiastic support we received from the Richmond Christians, none of whom had seen or done any witnessing in this manner. Before I left town a number of them made a commitment to continue the street work. After leaving we received several letters from Richmond informing us that the ministry was still going on. Sinners had repented and backsliders had come back to the Lord!

TOO LONG Christians have been ministering one to another in the confines of the church building while their children are reveling in the streets, cruising top speed toward HELL. WAKE UP CHRISTIANS! Get stirred in your spirit. Drive out the devil. Cry out against SIN. Get activated. Be bold and courageous. God is sick of this mealy-mouthed, rubber-necked, chicken-hearted, banana-backed, jelly-bellied, limp-wristed, weak-kneed and flat-footed so-called Christianity. Rise up against evil and let us go forth to BATTLE, tearing down Satan's strongholds by calling people to righteousness and holiness.

Sister Cindy Arrested at Chico State

To take stands like this always means that we run the risk of being arrested. That is what happened to Sister Cindy in March of 1984 at Chico State University in Northern California.

Our first day at Chico State, "Holy Hubert" Lindsey and Evangelist and Mrs. George Davis joined us for an afternoon of tagteam preaching. We took turns warning and exhorting crowds of several hundred until late that afternoon.

That night we held a special meeting in a local church. Nine Chico State students came to the service eager to hear more. We were anticipating even greater campus meetings the next day--ignorant of the forces at work to hinder our vital mission.

A student who leads a so-called Christian campus fellowship phoned me the next morning. This wolf in sheep's clothing said his group had scheduled the "free speech" area for the purpose of keeping us off campus. They claimed our method and message lacked love. True, we do not have the humanistic, lawless, tongue-love of this perverted generation. We do have the message of the love of God that leads a man to forsake selfishness, obey God and even love his enemies. Our love for the students compelled us to return to the "free speech" area to exercise our First Amendment rights.

The campus security, also biased against our straight-forward message, forced us off campus with the threat of arrest. It was frustrating to leave a crowd of 100 students who obviously wanted to hear us. Therefore, we decided to preach from the city sidewalk on the edge of campus.

Within minutes city police sped to the scene and informed Cindy they had a complaint against her. She was ordered to stop preaching immediately or move further from campus. At this point Cindy felt she had retreated far enough. Since she refused to move she was handcuffed, placed in the squad car, booked, fingerprinted and thrown in jail. Cindy preached to everyone in the police station before Brother Davis bailed her out for $500 two hours later. They were glad to see her leave! God provided us with a wise Christian lawyer who handled the case--free of charge. Although the judge found her guilty, he set aside the penalty and our bail was refunded.

Many criticize preachers for defying the authorities, but Charles Spurgeon, in his Lectures to My Students, said:

"I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother's being locked up by police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many, who felt no interest in him before, are eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so, when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respects a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man's defense.

After Cindy was apprehended I moved to a nearby city park to continue the message. I lot many of the college crowd but was able to draw a group of junior and senior high school students. That night eight teenage punk-rockers came to the church with the father of one of the girls, a local obstetrician. At the end of the service I allowed time for a question-and-answer period. To the shock of church members, the youth were very blunt about their unbelief, immorality and drug use. The evening was as beneficial to the church people as to the young revelers. Conservative pew warmers need to find out what is threatening this nation and take a stand while there's something left to stand for!

We later received a letter from a David Knehne in Chico who has chosen to take such a stand:


Dear Brother Jed and Cindy,

I am very thankful to God for your ministry. I wish you could have spent more time in Chico and especially on campus. I believed that meeting you was divinely appointed. You have really challenged me and set my heart burning to know God in a deeper way . . . You were like a breath of fresh air in a smoke-filled room . . .

Oh, that I could throw my life away, that others might know Christ. I too pray that I will be able to lay down my life and follow the path that Jesus walked to the cross, not caring what men think but fearing God only . . .


In a second letter Brother Dave reported that he and a friend had been witnessing in the Chico city park to the youth hanging out in revelry every Sunday night!

If we had never resisted the authorities there are dozens of campuses that would be closed to our ministry and other outdoor preachers. The Bible is filled with examples of men who chose to obey God rather than governments: Daniel, Jeremiah and the apostles are only a few.

If the apostles had stopped preaching when they were told, we would not have a church today. We must take a stand even if it means going to jail, yea, even if it means laying down one's life.

In the early years of my ministry I was arrested so often that I lost count of the number of times. It is expensive and time consuming to go to court. I have learned over the years to be more cautious concerning being arrested. Jesus said, "When they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another." (Matthew 10:23). The vast majority of campuses have a free speech policy, often it is expedient to go to another university where one will not be harassed by the authorities. If I do determine to fight for my right to speak, I usually stop should the police so order. Then I attempt to find someone in administration who will establish my right to speak. We have often found that the university attorney's office will recognize free speech rights and will make a call to campus security counseling them not to interfere. Jim Gilles, on occasion has even gone to the Attorney General in the State Capitol who has then informed campus officials of our right to speak. If one is speaking on a city street, it is often worthwhile to appeal to the city attorney instead of getting arrested. Once a preacher is arrested, he is put on the defensive. But if the preacher is able to avoid arrest and these other suggested alternatives fail, he can take the offensive path and hire an attorney to threaten an injunction or law suit against the authorities. Such a threat is usually enough to prompt the powers that be to change their minds.

We must take the Gospel to the public places. The apostles did not invite people to church in the first century--the church came to the people. This is the Bible way of spreading the word.


The position that we occupy is that the Christian faith is the perfection of human reason. --Noah Porter, President of Yale College, 1878


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