Sidewalk Preachers

Hannah Baker

Three SDSU students are raising their voices and their Bibles in what they say is an effort to share God’s love.

Jeremiah Moffitt, Tom Birk, and Adam McMath are members of a group from the Brookings Christian Assembly committed to spreading their message to fellow SDSU students.

Most days during the week they can be found standing with their Bibles in hand between The Union and the Rotunda calling out to people as they walk to class.

“Our message is simple and clear,” said Moffitt, who usually stands out on the sidewalk Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. “We are sinners and we are all deserving of Hell and God’s wrath, but God has provided a way for us with Jesus and through his death and resurrection we can have eternal life.”

The group began preaching at SDSU with the help of a fellow churchgoer who had the idea of bringing a paint board to campus and painting while he said his message. The three others continued this method; however, they had trouble with the wind knocking over their boards and spilling their paint so they went back to the old-fashioned way.

Throughout their message, Moffitt said he touches on sins such as sexual immorality, drunkenness and others. He said he mainly tries to focus on God’s love because “people don’t like to hear about them being sinners.”

“I’m a sinner before God, and as an individual I deserve His wrath,” Moffitt said. “I do touch on sin because it’s wrong, but I also focus on Christ and his love and how he took the sin upon the world so the rest of us could have eternal life.”

Moffitt said the reaction to his message is usually mixed. He says at times there are people who discourage him, but he said this is a sign he is doing the right thing. He said enduring persecution is an expected result from his message and he does not expect everyone to open up to him freely.

“I recently had someone walk by who would yell whenever I would start talking in order to drown me out and keep others from hearing me,” Moffitt said. “Days like that can be discouraging, but I just pray about it and move on.”

Despite occurrences like this, many people are encouraging.

“Many people, especially fellow believers, will come up and say something positive and that helps,” he said.

Moffitt said a lot of stereotypes come with standing out in the open and speaking to a crowd, especially if it’s a message many do not want to hear. He said many people see his group as people who are “just yelling” but Moffitt said raising his voice is essential in order to be heard among the bustle of people walking by.

“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God,” Moffitt said. “I’m not trying to yell to sound angry, but I have to yell to be heard.”

To some students walking by, the message was heard loud and clear — a little too loud.

“There’s some days it doesn’t bother me, but lately it’s been excessive and I’ve seen them screaming a few times,” said Trevor Martinmaas, a sophomore athletic training major from Brandon. “I think there could be better ways of reaching students … instead of being so verbally boisterous.”

Kaitlin Hintz, a freshman nursing major from Florence, S.D., also said the group could use a different method of communicating their message.

“Not many people can stop or do stop on their way to class and the people that do watch just stare from a distance,” Hintz said. “I think if they had smaller groups available for people to talk to it might be better, and people might not just keep walking.”

Whether or not the group is making an actual difference is something Moffitt says is unclear. He said direct response is usually slim. However, he hopes they are planting seeds now that may grow later during a person’s life.

“The majority of people are not on the road to heaven and have ignored God and have chosen not to seek Him because they don’t desire that — they enjoy their sin,” he said. “But it’s so much better to trust in the Lord. We just hope to plant seeds that maybe people will come across later in life.”

As for the future of the group, Moffitt said the group is committed to standing out on that sidewalk for the rest of the semester — even if the weather turns cold and tempts them to stop.