Saturday, October 21st, 2017

Huskies bite back at soapbox preachers

Students, professional staff and a USM police officer stand in the crowd listening to the Cross Country Evangelism group preaching outside the Brooks Student Center.
Justicia Barreiros
Students, professional staff and a USM police officer stand in the crowd listening to the Cross Country Evangelism group preaching outside the Brooks Student Center.

Posted on September 23, 2013 in News
By Emma James

A student confronts Sye Ten Bruggencate (left) and Mike Stockwell on Thursday in Gorham. Things heat up as a student gets in a preacher's face and begins to yell back.
Justicia Barreiros
A student confronts Sye Ten Bruggencate (left) and Mike Stockwell on Thursday in Gorham. Things heat up as a student gets in a preacher's face and begins to yell back.
Students, professional staff, and a USM police officer stand in the crowd listening to a religious group preaching outside the Brooks Student Center.
Justicia Barreiros
Students, professional staff, and a USM police officer stand in the crowd listening to a religious group preaching outside the Brooks Student Center.

Gorham was the unsuspecting host of a religious group, Cross Country Evangelism on Thursday. The group came hoping to “spread, the Word” to students.
Mike Stockwell, along with a handful of other ministry members who proclaimed the “gospel of Jesus Christ for the glory of God” came to USM as a part of a their campus tour, traveling up the northeast coast preaching the gospel at different campuses.

“[The negative student response] is expected of what happens when the gospel is preached. People rebel against it. The Bible says that faith comes from hearing. So we come out and we preach God’s word so that people can hear,” said Stockwell. “God is the one who gives life. God is the one who gives salvation of the lord. So we trust that God’s people, his sheep, will hear his voice when we come out here.”

Even so, students did not receive the message as one of hope.

“I’m disgusted,” said sophomore theater major Ashley Rose. “I understand freedom of speech. I understand this is like a public domain. But to sit here and tell me that my friends and my family are wrong, and that they’re going to hell, no matter what they believe in or how good they are during their life is disgusting. They’re feeding young children these plagued words.”

Stockwell and his group are used to the response showcased at USM, because they believe men “like darkness rather than the light because their deeds are evil.”

“They don’t want the light to shine on them,” said Stockwell. “But we’re going to come out and stand for Jesus Christ, and proclaim his word. We’re not trying to be offensive in our method, but the word is offensive. And to tell someone that they’re wrong, people find that offensive.”
Rose believes that it is Stockwell who needs to see “the light.”

“[He needs to] see that things are not the same as they were thousands of years ago when the Bible was written,” said Rose. “You can be Christian and still think that gay people are good, and that they can go to heaven like the rest of us. And that they are no more sinned [sic] than the rest of us.”

Another student facing off against the group, senior history major Brandon Levesque, agrees, but for a different reason.

“I don’t mind the message that they’re conveying because I myself am a person of faith. The issue is the way that they are presenting the message. There’s a lot of hate,” said Levesque. “There’s a lot of fear.”

College campuses, though, are ideal places for Stockwell and fellow members to preach the gospel.

“I like the [back and forth banter],” said Stockwell. “We’re at a college. You guys have debate classes. They actually teach ‘how to debate somebody.’ We’re just having a spirited exchange here.”

Levesque believes that it is not Stockwell’s place to come to any campus, including USM’s, and “not know anybody and judge their heart.”

He’s yelling at people and telling them not to be a Sunday school teacher or whatever they’re doing,” said Levesque. “I don’t necessarily agree with the lifestyle of homosexuality. That’s great, that’s my personal opinion, but you know what? As a Christian I’m called to love people, regardless of their lifestyle. Period. Jesus did it as well. He said ‘You know what, this isn’t my intention for you, but I love you. I created you. I love you anyway.’”

Stockwell looks at the approach they have in a very different light, with an aim of simply “preaching the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

“We understand that sometimes it’s received hard, but it’s because people’s hearts are hard. God has to change them,” said Stockwell. “That’s what we’re out here proclaiming. We hope that they’ll hear the word, and God and his mercy will save people through these means, through the preaching of the gospel.”

“And that is not what is going on here,” said Levesque. “This is reaping fear by hell and damnation, fire and brimstone.”

Jourdana Avital, sophomore ASL major, got into a dialogue with one of those preaching.

“Why are your sins better than mine? I love her, I don’t even know her,” said Avital. “I love everyone here. I love my fellow man, I’m not preaching against them and what they do.”

Avital agrees with Levesque and Rose that freedom of speech is important, but shoving religion on another human being is not spreading love, in her opinion.

“They’re preaching that they’re better than us, and I have no respect for that because in religion you’re supposed to love your fellow man,” Avital said.
Scott Smith, another ministry member, explains that he is honored to present the gospel.

“The gospel has an inherent offense,” said Smith. “We know that many will reject it, but there are some who will receive the message, and those who will receive are the ones we have come for. It’s not for the masses.”

Even so, compromises between the ministry and the masses were not met.

Levesque said, “I don’t need a book chapter verse to know that Jesus would look at you right now and say what you need to express is love not hate.”

  • Anonymous

    Telling people the truth about God & about sin is love & not hate.

  • Anonymous

    Could you be wrong about everything you claim to know? Truth comes from God & you cannot even reason without Him. You are not His Judge. He can use men to write His words & He did. http://proofthatGodexists.org

  • Bill Lee

    It’s quite obvious that the posts here supporting Cross Country Evangelism’s hate speech come from shills of the movement itself, not from the USM community. One poster admits it; in other posts you see exactly the same tropes and similes as in Stockwell’s message. These “comments” are as phony as the “Christianity” of these zealots itself. They are just replaying the same record. Click.

  • Derick Arel

    If by “wicked” you mean non-believers: they hate gods no more or less than
    they hate leprechauns and unicorns.

  • Derick Arel

    That “20 something know-nothing” knew more about the universe we live in at age 12 than all the authors of your holy book combined.

  • Derick Arel

    Thre are “eye witnesses” to all kinds of silly things that didn’t happen.

    Your book was written by men. Get over it.

  • Christian

    Using one source on a term paper will get you a “D” or an “F” maybe you should re-evaluate and ask yourself why one source is OK for life.

  • Derek Michaud

    Some of the issues involved here (and many more) are discussed, from a philosophical perspective, in the course PHI/REL 230 Philosophy of Religion which will be offered in winter term online.

  • Jake Larson

    The article got one thing right. There is a lot of hate going on here. The wicked hate God and His word because it reveals how sinful they are. The wicked are angry at the idea that God would justly hold them accountable. They hate the good news because they are children of the devil. They are enslaved to their lusts and have exchanged the truth about God for a lie.

  • lisak33@yahoo.com

    The saddest part is that many that profess to be christians will love everyone around them sraight to hell.

  • Mason Goodknight

    Weak critiques. I’ve preached with these brothers. People always scream hate when they are told they’re wrong about God. May God grant the rebels, repentance to life for His glory and their good. Prayers for the brothers preaching the gospel!

  • ONE GOD

    A blind man is walking towards a very high cliff that will surely kill him if he continues to walk. One man walks by and doesn’t want to offend or bother him and says, “Nice day today!”, and another man walks bye and says “STOP AND TURN AROUND SIR OR YOU WILL SURELY DIE!” Who is the better friend? Who has shown the most love?

  • Russ Westbrook

    A snarky college newspaper with a smug liberalism hit-piece typed by some 20 something know-nothing? I’m shocked, SHOCKED I tell you! Pfft! Ignore em’ guys and keep preaching the Gospel.

  • Anonymous

    Is it disrespect to warn someone of the punishment of any crime and then tell them the way to be forgiven and have their debt paid for? This is not about superiority. All have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. It is love and compassion to tell someone the truth about the results of what they are doing rather than saying nothing. If you knew someone had cancer and was going to die and you knew a treatment that would cure them, would you not tell them they had cancer and desire for them to be cured? First you have to tell someone the bad news, then if they listen they can hear the good news of the forgiveness that only is found in Christ.

  • Anonymous

    This is not about anger, it’s about Truth and sometimes truth can be difficult for people to hear. It’s not about the men preaching. It’s about God.

    If the Bible was merely the words of men, then it could be ignored. I would submit to you that it is inspired by God and is not merely the words of men. It claims to be the words of the Lord, and the Scripture is not merely a matter of man’s own interpretation.
    The justice and holiness of God is clearly taught in the Bible as well as the central theme which is Jesus who was fully God and fully man who lived a perfect life and died on a cross as a sacrifice for the sins of all who repent and truly believe… and He rose from the dead. There were eye witness accounts to the death and resurrection of Christ.

  • Anonymous

    The message these men bring is not hate or superiority. Would you say it is love or hate that someone would warn someone they were about to step off a cliff or that a drug they are taking is going to kill them? These men do not claim to be sinless or superior. They only bring the message that is found in the Bible. I have read the whole Bible, and I highly recommend that all those who are professing Christians read through it (and even those who aren’t).

    Our laws have punishment for crimes, but when our offense is against God Who is the perfect righteous Judge Himself we must all give account. The good news is that the Judge sent Jesus God the Son to take the punishment for sin by dying on the cross for all those who will repent and put their trust in Him. That is love. The reason why people respond negatively to this is that they are either happy in sinning against God and do not want to receive the message or they are afraid of what others will think of them rather than caring about their friends eternity and relationship with God. This Gospel is good news to those who will receive it. To those who do not receive it, I can understand why they would see it as bad news, but it is Truth and loving to tell it.

  • Christine

    Their Gospel is straight out of the Word of God. If that offends you, it is God’s Word that offends you. It is not harmful except to the extent that it hardens the hearts of the unsaved. You cannot censor God. Telling others of the wrath of God upon them for their sin against God and His law and how they can be saved from that wrath is the epitome of love. Trusting the One Who already paid the price for YOUR sin is the smartest move anyone can make – for eternity! Repent of your unbelief and be saved.

  • Anonymous

    It seems that people are rebelling against the message of hate and fear and disrespect for the dignity of all human beings. If that is their “gospel message” then it is harmful and needs to be repressed and censored. Love and compassion towards others must be placed before the selfish wishes of others to force pain on others in order to get their kicks from feeling superior. These people are social deviants and should be treated as such.

  • Derick Arel

    It’s like if a radical group of Harry Potter fans got all flustered and went around angrily demonstrating their own particular interpretation of the text.

    The best thing to do is ignore them; they’ll eventually get sleepy and go home.

    The wordy philosophies of ancient goat herders who didn’t know where the sun went at night are nothing to argue about.

    “Sheep” indeed.