By Dana Reese
Every student at East Stroudsburg University has seen them, or at least heard them from open dorm windows: the preachers who come to campus in the warmer seasons and stand between the quad and The Union. When they came to ESU campus last week, standing on a small step ladder and preaching to rowdy crowds of students, they were met with a group of students wanting to share a message of their own, “Praise the Maize.”
From a sign stating “Fresh Grown Corn,” to actual husks of corn being passed around, waved, eaten, and even in one case, smoked, the preachers were met with a hostile student body.
As one group of students fled with one of the group’s signs and another stole a backpack of one of the members, the preachers vocally questioned the morality of the campus. Another student held an umbrella in front of the camera, a girl read from a book of “Moon Spells,” and rumors have circulated of a girl stripping in front of the preachers.
This is not their first time on campus either, as some may remember them from last October, when one student hit a man in the head with a bottle.
The questions becomes, who are these men that entered an environment where the year before they had been met with hostility, and why do they go from venue to venue preaching the gospel? Their website, www.preachingjesus777.com, lays out their goal, which they claim is what every Christian’s goal should be, “That is, to warn the wicked to flee their wicked ways and repent before it’s too late.”
One of the men present both times, Michael Stockwell, was interviewed last year.
“I’m a full time evangelist,” said Mr. Stockwell. “We go across America, and we preach at different campuses and festivals. We preach wherever people are gathering.”
But Mr. Stockwell did not start out as an evangelist as he later explained. Not only had he been in the Marine Corps for four years, but he’d even owned his own landscaping company for another eighteen years after that. “I have some small schooling, my education as far as theology—mostly, it’s just taking the time and reading God’s word, going to home bible studies, and learning about God’s word through that, through my own personal studying. On top of that, it’s God’s spirit that really works in me.”
Mr. Stockwell had many opinions which he preached to the campus; what some students explained as loud and obnoxious. “We come out here, and we do lift up our voice. We don’t call it yelling; we’re out here preaching. We’re out here heralding a message, and yeah, we understand that people don‘t want to hear it and they think that we’re just doing it, but we believe that it’s the biblical way, to proclaim the gospel,” said Stockwell. “If you look at the bible, Jesus did it this way. God commands us and Jesus commands us to go into all the world and preach the gospel, and this campus is part of the world.”
Students also fought the message being preached, not just the presentation. One particular issue that raised a lot of emotion from the crowds of students was homosexuality, which Stockwell preached against throughout the day. “We’re saying to judge yourself in light of God’s law. And that’s why we’re here. To open up your eyes because people who are in sin, a lot of the time, they don’t realize they’re in sin. They’re like a fish in water that doesn’t know it’s wet. That’s what they don’t know and we’re just here to open up their eyes. We use God’s law as a schoolmaster to bring them to Christ and to show them that their lifestyle, every kind of fornication—homosexual fornication, outside of marriage fornication—is a sin against God and they will be accountable for their sins.”
Mr. Stockwell travelled to campus along with another small group of Evangelists. “This is what we do,” Stockwell said, speaking about travelling and preaching. “The bible says to love thy neighbor. We come out here to do that.”
Highlights of last years event can be viewed on Youtube on the channel “PrechingJesus777” or you can find the link through their website.