Christians preach outside Campus Center

By Patrick Hoff

Scott Smith did not always believe in God. He admits that while he was being raised Catholic, he “thought it was all baloney.”

Cade Belisle/Daily Collegian

About 34 years ago, however, he came to a personal realization about his faith.

“I realized that if God exists, I’m up the creek,” Smith said. He also said that he realized that he qualified as a lawbreaker under the Bible and so he “called out” to Jesus to guide him.

After this, Smith began to read the Bible more and decided that it was his job to educate young people about the Bible. About twenty years before beginning his tours, Smith opened a school in Florida, called Smith Preparatory Academy, where students are given “a Christ-centered and skills-driven academic experience.” Two campuses are still open, one in Longwood and the other in Orlando.

However, about two years ago Smith sold the Christian preparatory school that he started, and decided to instead go to college campuses, to talk to students in order to “appeal to their intellect.”

Smith tours the Ivy League colleges twice a year, but includes the University of Massachusetts on his tours because he finds the campus beautiful and rich with students.  His fall tour brought him to UMass on Monday, creating a moderate sized cluster of people between the Campus Center and the Student Union for most of the day.

Each of his tours last two weeks and, according to Smith, officially have no name. When embarking on his tours, he typically invites along a few of his friends who share in his beliefs to aid him in spreading his message, and this tour is no different. On Monday, Smith was joined by Don Karns, a renowned apologist from Virgina, Sye Ten Bruggencate of Ontario, Canada, Mike Stockwell, a former U.S. Marine from Long Island, N.Y., and Andy Noble from Sydney, Australia. An apologist is a person who has been taught and trained in skills necessary to defend his or her faith.

Smith says that when picking friends to join him on the tour, he chooses mature men who like college students and who won’t be spooked by heckling.

“Each of us has had a powerful confrontation with God,” Smith said.

Armed with signs and conviction in their belief, Smith and his fellow Christians speak to students about any qualms they have about the Christian faith, while also attempting to have a discussion with them about Christianity and the Bible.

Smith is part of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, a devout Christian group that preaches the Bible throughout the United States. PEF does not directly sponsor Smith and his Ivy League tour.

Smith said while his tour often draws large crowds on college campuses, he is not fazed by the hecklers. Those who come over to poke fun at his mission tend to bring along the target audience who, for Smith, are “people with a sin problem.”

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]