PREACHING AT UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE KNOXVILLE AND EAST TENNESSEE STATE UNIVERSITY -NOVEMBER 9 -11, 2011- BY BROTHER MICAH ARMSTRONG

 

Wednesday November 9, 2011-University of Tennessee Knoxville-Knoxville, Tennessee:  Had never preached on this campus before.  Drove all day until late the previous day and was somewhat tired.  It was overcast and expected to have some rain also. 

 

ANTICIPATING DIFFICULTIES

 

I had heard from several other preachers who had preached here before there is a public sidewalk in front of the library you can preach from.  They also said the police will come up and try to tell you it is a private sidewalk but it is not.  After hearing this I was expecting trouble from the police. 

 

NOT TO BE DISAPPOINTED

 

It was very dreary weather driving up.  I was more apprehensive than normal about getting started due to the reports I had of police difficulty from fellow preachers.  I began preaching about 1:50 PM on the public sidewalk to the left of the library.  It began to slightly drizzle soon after I began but I gradually began to gather a small crowd of about 25-30.  I was preaching and answering their questions in the drizzle when I was stopped at 2:20 PM by two police officers and told to follow them. 

 

One was a male and the other was a female.  The male was almost apologetic about stopping me and seemed embarrassed.  The female gave me somewhat of a hard time.  They took my license and called in.  They told me I was on the public sidewalk but the female wanted me to move further down in front of the library.  There was less foot traffic over there.  I told them I was going to move further to the left of the library to the middle between the two crosswalks. 

 

TIPPING OFF THE PREACHER

 

The female had told me some people complained while they waited at the crosswalk because they were forced to listen to me.  I did not want to preach next to the crosswalk but I was trying to be careful.  The officers unknowingly told me I could move to the middle (I thought this would be the best spot) and still be on the public sidewalk and away from the crosswalk. 

 

I resumed preaching in the middle further to the left of the library around 2:30 PM.  I began to gather a small crowd that asked good questions and the crowd kept on growing.  The crowd grew to about 170-200 and formed a large semi circle.  I had my back to the public street and the crowd kept moving closer and closer and getting more and more on the edge.  I knew I did not have long before they totally closed me in or backed me into the street.  It had also begun to drizzle again and was starting to come down a little stronger but this did not affect the crowd size in the least. 

 

KGB OR POLICE OFFICERS? 

 

Right at 3:30 PM I was stopped again by the female officer and told to follow her.  There were several police cars and 3-4 other officers waiting for me.  The female officer began to scold me and told me she thought we agreed I was not going to upset the crowd and would move down to the spot she tried to talk me into moving to. 

 

PURPOSE OF FIRST AMENDMENT

 

I politely but firmly told her I had never agreed to that but had agreed to move away from the crosswalk and into the middle so as not to interfere with students having to use the crosswalk.  I also told her first amendment is for the purpose of protecting speech that is not popular and the fact some people do not like it is not any reason to stop me.  They knew I was recording everything we were saying and all I had preached.  Another male officer began to try to tell me I could get my message across better if I did not make people angry.  I guess Jesus was wrong then because he made people very angry and they had him nailed to a cross.  He also told us we would have the same response (John 7:7, John 15:18-19). 

 

PREACHER GIVEN CRIMINAL TRESPASS WARNING FOR PREACHING ON PUBLIC SIDEWALK

 

Finally another officer asked for my ID again and wrote my information down and said “OK I tell you what.  You know where the public sidewalk is right?  I am giving you a criminal trespassing warning.  If I catch you on any part of our property I am going to arrest you.  That means you have to be dropped off here and picked up without ever getting on any part of our property or you will be arrested.  Do you understand that?” 

 

I then asked him if they arrested people who were visitors for parking in the visitor parking lot and had paid to do so.  He knew he had contradicted himself and replied that was ok but then again threatened to arrest me if he ever caught me on any part of their property and left.

 

The female who was always very condescending towards me asked me if I understood everything.  I told the officers I did not appreciate the way this was being handled.  I was then informed he had given me a criminal trespassing warning and that is what they do to people who have done things wrong.  I informed them I had not done anything wrong.  I had used the public sidewalk and had never done anything wrong on their property.  I also asked if they arrested visitors who came on their property.

 

Sister Elizabeth and I then headed back to the visitors parking lot to get our vehicle.  One student followed us and we had a profitable conversation. 

 

That evening I preached in the church where we were staying. 

 

November 10, 2011:  Did not go to campus today but preached in a local church that evening. 

 

November 11, 2011-East Tennessee State University-Johnson City, Tennessee:  I really wanted to preach again at UT Knoxville because I was not able to preach much the other day and had gotten such a good crowd.  I learned of a brother Sam in the area who was planning to preach there on Friday also.  I was very uncomfortable about returning to UT Knoxville with just Sister Elizabeth and me because it seemed the police were looking for any excuse to arrest me to stop the preaching from going forward.  With another male preacher there the police would be less likely to try to arrest me for no good reason. 

 

Brother Sam and I discussed the situation and he told me he could get a permit for Friday at East Tennessee State University.  I knew a brother who had preached here before and always had good meetings.  We decided to head to ETSU instead. 

 

After talking to Brother Sam on the phone Wednesday evening I met him in person Thursday evening at a local church where I preached. 

 

COLD DAY

 

On Friday morning Brother Sam, his son Aaron, Sister Elizabeth and I headed to Johnson City.  This was a VERY cold day for people from South Florida.  It was clear and sunny but windy with a high of 46 degrees.  I finally got a chance to wear the trench coat I bought two years ago at an Ohio thrift store.  I was excited about this and also the opportunity to preach on another new campus for me.  Another brother named Jeremy who lives on campus joined us. 

 

I started out the preaching at 11:45 AM.  It was Friday, very cold weather and veterans day so I did not know what type of response we would get.  After preaching a few minutes I slowly built a small crowd that continued to grow.  At times the crowd was fairly rowdy but I tried to wait for them to settle down before I continued preaching.  At one time the crowd grew to around 200 but most of the time was about 75-115.  I continued preaching until about 1:10 PM and then turned the somewhat rowdy crowd of around 80-110 over to Brother Sam. 

 

I did not want to distract from Brother Sam’s preaching and have the crowd walk after me when he got up to preach so I immediately left the free speech area.  Brother Sam from what Sister Elizabeth told me did a very good job of preaching, maintaining the crowd size and interest and handling the crowd. 

 

SIN DEFENDERS AND RIGHTEOUSNESS REBUKERS

 

Three young men followed me and wanted to talk to me.  The “leader” of the trio had stood up on the planter where I was preaching and tried to get the crowd not to listen to my “Repent or Perish, without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Luke 13:3, 5, Hebrews 12:14) message and reassured the crowd God loved them no matter what.  I always remind people everywhere I go that hell is full of people Jesus loved enough to die for because they did not love Him (Matthew 23:33, Matthew 25:41, John 8:44, John 8:34, Matthew 6:24, John 14:15).

 

This “leader” began giving me his spiritual resume and the resume of his two friends and then began firing questions at me so fast so I would have no chance to answer such as “where are you from, where do you go to church, who is your pastor”.  I resisted the temptation to give him my resume  and letting him know I had just preached in two churches the last two nights.  While doing this he blocked my path so that I could not continue walking.  When I tried to walk around him he continued to block my path.  He was the one who accused me of having no love when I was preaching (Revelation3:19). 

 

Finally he settled down some and I had a good discussion with him.  One of the friends admitted to living in sin and even though the “leader” agreed with my theology he still refused to take back his unbiblical belief that his friend was saved while living in known sin. 

 

WHY PREACH REPENTANCE? 

 

During our conversation a girl who had spewed profuse profanity (Matthew 12:34-37, Romans 3:13-14, Psalm 59:12) at me while I was preaching and claimed to be saved came and joined our conversation.  She was civil now but still convinced that although she used that language and did other sinful activities on a regular basis she was also “saved”.  This is why we campus preachers preach such a strong message of repentance.  All the Bible preachers did also (Matthew 3:1-2, Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:1-15, Mark 6:12, Luke 13:3, 5, Luke 5:32, Luke 24:47, Acts 2:38, Acts 3:19, Acts 17:30-31, Acts 20:21, Acts 26:20).  Most preachers in America do not and that is why we have such rampant deception everywhere.  None of the trio opposed her views on this either.

 

I returned to the preaching area around 1:50 PM and Brother Sam had just turned the preaching over to Brother Jeremy.  For the remainder of the afternoon until our permit expired at 4:30 PM we each talked to small groups of students in the free speech area.  One male student insisted with a straight face that although he fornicated last night he was saved because “you cannot lose your salvation”.   I tried in vain for some time to help him see his error but to no avail (John 8:45, 47). 

 

By the time we left at 4:30 PM my feet felt like frozen ice blocks.  On the way home Sister Elizabeth, Brother Sam and Brother Jeremiah had good fellowship together. 

 

Saturday November 12, 2011:  Preached in the evening at the church where we were staying. 

 

Sunday November 13, 2011:  Preached in the morning service in the church where we were staying.  The services are broadcast live on the local radio. 

 

After morning service I went with the pastor and one brother to the local jail.  We visited four different “slams” of inmates and I preached strong messages of repentance and salvation intermingled with my testimony in each one. 

In the evening preached again in the church service.  Praise the Lord!  God help me to pour my life out as a drink offering to you for your glory.

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