PSU Week 4 – Sept 15-19
Monday was hot and humid. Sister Pat and I went to Temple University and began to preach outside the main library in a quadrangle surrounding The Bell Tower. Very soon the police stopped me and told me we had to have permission to preach, since the campus is private property. I went to find the person who gave permission and, and Sister Pat Noordeweir started preaching on what we were told was a public sidewalk. She was soon stopped also.
In the meantime I walked about a half a mile to the office building that I was directed to, but did not find the office of the person who handed out permissions. But I did get a secretary to phone around and find the correct person, (who was not at his desk).
I spoke to an underling and told him my desire was to speak at the Bell Tower and that I was not a student. He told me he was unawares of any permission requirements in order to speak. So I went back on campus to talk to the police again.
The told the officer who stopped me what I had been told, and he said if that was the case, he had no problem with it. Just then a wrinkled up prune of an old maid walked in, just squirting out self importance from every pore. I was told that was the "Captain" of the police force. She spoke very officiously that indeed I needed permission. I told her I was told by a Mr. Jay that I did not. She said she knew Mr. Jay, so I suggested that she call him to clarify the situation.
Mr. Jay showed up a few minutes later and told me I had not talked to him. Apparently when the underling gave me Mr. Jay's name I misunderstood that he was giving me someone else's information. Mr. Jay told me that I had to make an application, meet with him, be questioned as to my intentions and content, show him any fliers and produce other documentation, and that there was no way I could do it in less than a couple of weeks. Hmmm, how likely is this to happen?
By that time I had wasted half the day. I found Sister Pat, and we went off campus to the Student Activity Center and attempted to preach from the public sidewalk. They have no jurisdiction there, so they could not stop us. I tried several times and Pat tried several times over the next couple of hours to get a crowd, but again we failed to garner any interest. The spot we selected had a LOT of street noise, construction equipment, a shouting traffic cop, an antiwar activist, but good foot traffic at first. Still nothing seemed to gel.
It was as if we were speaking inside a glass bell, inside "the cone of silence". We gave up about 3:00, then spent the next two hours trying to find our car. "Thank you for joining us on our impromptu walking tour of Philadelphia".
One pleasant aspect of the trip was to fellowship with Stephen White's family. To those of you who do not know him, he preached faithfully in the Philadelphia area for many years. Then he was arrested and charged with propositioning a boy. He was convicted solely on the word of the accuser, with no other evidence whatsoever. Many of us believe Stephen was wrongly accused and convicted because of his strong stand for the gospel. He had preached many times in the town where he was charged, and had run-ins with the law.
His wife and children have had a hard time since his incarceration. His children were delightful little boys. Please remember to pray for Stephen. His last appeal was not successful, so his only hope now is parole. After that he will have a great challenge getting his life back in order. On the day of judgment, his false accusers will be dealt with.
Tuesday was back to Penn State. I was told the students were asking about me. Evidently they have been stirred up by my preaching, especially the atheists.
Every day on campus was good. Gary and I have settled into a new schedule. He comes out early and preaches. I show up in the afternoon, and preach starting from about 3:30. We have always thought that starting to build a crowd that late in the day was a waste of time. I am rethinking that point of view, and plan to test a new preaching paradigm when I get out to Missouri to see if what I have been experiencing at PSU will carry over to Mizzou.
On Tuesday, I started preaching around 4:00 when there was hardly any one hanging out at Willard. I got an audience rather quickly, and held them until 8:00 pm. In fact, every day this week, I have preached until 6:30, at least, and often later. The crowds seem to be more reasonable and the discussions have been very fruitful.
Yasik, the #2 atheist, discussed with me a number of issues, i.e., eternal Hell, redemption, the Kingdom of God, and a few others. He is surprisingly knowledgeable about the Bible, having studied it for years as an atheist to be able to denounce it. He surprised me when he said that I was unlike any Christian he had ever talked to. My answers, he admitted, were reasonable and internally consistent. His main rejection of Christianity centers around supposed characteristics of God, which if true, would mark Him as a tyrant. But most of those things he rejects are the remnants of Calvinism. As I slowly dismantle the erroneous ideas of God’s character, he is beginning to consider what I am saying.
(Today, Saturday, the atheists are downtown in State College doing a fund raiser for some charity. For a donation, they will read the Bible for so many minutes. I gotta laugh at that. I am hoping that in the middle of a verse, the Lord will reveal Himself to them. Would not that be grand, to have an atheist convert while trying to portray Christianity as evil? Please, please, please, Lord?)
I met a man who used to listen to me preach back in 1980-82. He and I hit it off quickly, and we swapped stories. His experiences were very similar to mine with regards to a “Job-like” experience. His faith took him through the great trial. The Lord brought him down from being a millionaire to bankruptcy, a brain tumor, the end of his marriage, and Baptist legalism. In the end, he held onto the confession that God is good, and survived the test. It turns out that he has also preached on the boardwalk in Redondo Beach. I encouraged him to continue. A little more fruit from my early days.
I awarded a new prize this week. I needed a cigar tube to carry my insulin syringes in, so I bought an expensive cigar. On Wednesday, I hated to throw out that $7.00 cigar, so I inserted it into a plastic bag and awarded the first “Bill Clinton Depravity Award” to the most depraved person in the crowd. It was won by a cute coed who proudly proclaimed that she was a lesbian. Of course, I did not give her the coveted prize until she PROMISED me that she would not use it in the same manner as Bill Clinton.
Another heckler has come around. This young man alternates between claiming to be God and claiming to be Satan. Yesterday, when he claimed to be Satan, I responded with emphasized disdain, “You are NOT Satan”. He responded with “How do you know that?”
“You are too ugly to be Satan”. The crowd roared, and the heckler was silenced.
On Wednesday, it was a special day at PSU. A group was demonstrating at Willard building celebrating the First Amendment! Guess how they were celebrating? They started out reading from “banned” books. But when they could not get any attention, they tried to steal my crowd. A group got up on a wall next to the steps of Willard building and read in unison as loud as they could.
“How can you celebrate the 1st amendment by trying to shut me down and stop my preaching?” I demanded of them. As it turned out, they were reading from an Obama campaign document. I surmised that they weren’t REALLY celebrating the 1st amendment as much as trying to bamboozle the students into thinking that Nobama is a friend of free speech. I let them run out of steam, then I retook and rebuild the crowd. Bro – 1, Nobama – 0.
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