For those who do not know, Brother Jed Smock is an evangelist who goes around to colleges all over the fifty states. His open preaching is more often than not met with angry students who argue back at him. He is the kind of preacher who shouts, “Do this, or go to Hell!!”
Yesterday, as I was walking to my car from the chemistry building, I noticed a large crowd gathered around the psychology building. I heard loud sarcastic shouts from young men, followed by laughing from the entire crowd. My first thought was, “Some organization must be handing out free candy again,” but something was odd with this particular crowd. There was something hateful in the voices I heard, almost cynical. But I decided to ignore it and continue to my car, because I was already running late for tutoring.
That night, while I watched the campus snapchat story, I saw ten second videos about a man preaching on campus. These were not pleasant videos to watch. They showed my fellow Ags leading other Ags in our sacred yells, but with twisted words, to make fun of this man who so bravely came to the middle of campus to preach what he believed. One in which a group of kids (Yes, kids. Not adults, because they were acting like children.) yelled, “Beat the hell outta crazy people!!” It broke my heart. So, I grabbed my laptop and googled Bro. Jed. I watched testimony videos, read their belief statements, and watched snippets of his sermons, all to see what the big deal was about this one guy. What I learned, what I watched, didn’t outrage me. In fact, most his beliefs almost perfectly matched up with mine (MOST not ALL).
When I finally got into bed, I couldn’t sleep. God was tugging at me. Recently I have been praying, “Here I am, Father. Send me. Use my talents for Your glory.” And here it was. I could hear Him saying, “Go, Sarah. Talk to them.” So what talent you may ask qualified me for this task? My Southern accent, of course. Everywhere I go here in College Station, people hold conversations with me, or start them, because they just can’t get over my thick East Texas drawl. You think I’m joking, I wish!
This morning I woke up determined. “I WILL speak to them today.” I prayed feverishly for wisdom, courage, and for His light to shine through me and not my own. (For those who don’t know me well, I usually burst into tears after confrontation.) So, I also prayed not to cry and show weakness. As I walked up to the group surrounding Bro. Jed, I realized that it would be too rude to butt-into his sermon and ask him to politely step to the side so I could have a private word with him. The devil was trying to discourage me. So, I looked around trying to think of excuses not to talk to him alone; that’s when I saw, sitting alone in a chair, his wife. Turns out she preaches right along side him, but out of God’s grace, she was sitting down and taking a quick water break. Beat that, devil!
Using my manners that my mama drilled into my head, I walked up to her with a smile on my face and a firm, “Hi, ma’am! I’m Sarah Huffman, and God told me to speak to y’all last night.” This polite gesture made her uncomfortable, because she was used to students heckling her, not being kind to her. As I stuck out my hand to shake hers, she awkwardly to my hand in hers then quickly released it (Mrs. Greig would not approve of that unprofessional handshake, haha!). I asked, “May I sit and talk with you awhile?” And so there I was. Speaking to someone who was infamous. But isn’t that what Jesus did?
I spoke of how I saw the crowd the day before, how my heart broke when I saw my fellow Ags being rude, and how God had tugged on my heart to speak to them. I told her that I agreed with some of what they were saying, but not all of it. She had her walls up and did not want to listen to me. But one thing I said did get through to her.
“Does Brother Jed’s faith change when people shout back at him?”
“Then what makes you think that his shouting will change the students’ faiths?”
She was silent.
She stuttered, searching for words.
I interjected (because the silence was getting a little awkward). I told her of howour generation doesn’t like to be shouted at. Being told, “You will go to Hell if you don’t believe this!” But God prepared us for this situation. He gave us a WHOLE BOOK with examples on how to bring people to believe in the King of Kings and the Savior who bridged the gap between death and eternal life. Most of these examples did not include standing in the middle of a crowd, screaming vulgar information. The examples in the Bible are exampled of leading by ACTION.
Jesus healed the blind.
Jesus turned water into wine.
Jesus raised the widow’s son from the dead.
Jesus made a mute man speak.
Jesus drove away demons.
We are called to strive to be like Jesus. And although we will never live up to Our Saviors beautiful standards, God loves us all the same. Flaws and all.
So, if we are called to be like Jesus, shouldn’t we lead by action and not by screaming vulgarities? Because, when has that ever worked? That’s just like posting an opinion on Facebook and believing that because you believe that, everyone will magically agree with you. WRONG. (Sorry to burst the “Facebook politicians'” bubbles.)
I suggested instead of shouting, offering to pray for people. I suggested instead of arguing with 20 year olds, handing them a Bible when they say something that contradicts the Bible, I suggested instead of forcing a sermon onto them, offer a hug and invite them to a local church so they can hear the Word in a more delicate, inviting form.
She had nothing to say, and it was obvious that God had struck a cord in her. I stood up from where I was sitting, and told her that I had to go to class, but that I would be praying for her and her husband. She asked my name again so she could pray for me in return, and thanked me for speaking with her.
You see, I learned that the Smocks aren’t completely wrong in their beliefs. They are just out of touch with the current generation, and who could blame them? We are so complex, so easily offended, so ready to argue. I learned that even devout Christians are wrong in their beliefs sometimes, because we are human. I learned that compassion goes further than harsh words. I learned that we all need prayer, all the time. I learned that even Christians need re-saving, because we fall short daily.
The Smocks say we serve a fair God. Untrue. He gives us more than we deserve, therefore He is unfair in His ways (and aren’t we blessed that He is!). The Smocks say that once we are saved, we will never sin again. Untrue. We need saving daily, and if we never sinned we would be on the same level as Jesus, which is impossible. The Smocks say the best way to bring people to Christ is through statements of harsh reality. Untrue. While this MAY work in some cases, people come to Christ through love. For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God KNEW we would fail. God KNEW we would sin. God STILL loves us.
I learned that you can rarely bring people to have a new faith through making them feel guilty.
Today, I feel as though I have grown as a follower of Christ. So, to all of my readers who have stuck out my super lengthy post and are still reading, be like Jesus. Talk to those in need, to those who are lost, to those who think they are saved but are not. Because that’s what Jesus would do.
This post was not to praise myself, but to praise God for giving me strength and tugging on my heart.
Thanks and Gig’em,