Really? Not really. But if you see someone in the middle of a university campus on a cold afternoon preaching with every zeal in his body, you’re bound to have a few eyebrows raised, especially if that University is in the America. Very soon, the crowd around the said preacher will get bigger and bigger, and its members would begin to engage him in a loud debate. Trust university students never to let an opportunity for an argument go to waste. And then, as a result of that public spectacle, more and more people would come to see what the whole thing is all about. They don’t see that often.
I’d been alerted by a phone call. “Oh Kola, come! A crazy man is preaching here.” But I knew that the man wasn’t a crazy man, by the hysteria in the voice of the caller. I’ve also seen many preachers in public places (Who from Nigeria hasn’t seen one of those anyway), and I knew it highly unlikely that a crazy man would be allowed to stand for long in the middle of campus in America. Maybe it was just a healthy argument of opinions, I thought. Getting there and seeing the young man within a circle confirmed my suspicion. He was only as crazy as his decision to come to a campus filled with young fun-loving students to preach the gospel of Christ. So we all stood there, and listened to him.
But he never really made any new points, perhaps because of the hecklers who didn’t give him the chance. What he did the most was rehashing an old conservative messages of Christianity that excludes recognition to gay people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the theory of evolution. And all I was thinking as we were joined by the many other people curious about the activity in the circle – and a few other angry hecklers that wished they had a chance to push him off – was “What what the young man was trying to prove?” “Is this the right place for this?” “Does he mind that people were there mostly for the heated debates?” If anything, does he realize how much of a lightening rod for criticism of all that is wrong with zealous proselytism as he stood there responding to every heckler in the crowd with an opinion? And then again, I wondered how possible it can be to make a case of God’s love for some special people alone over all others without sounding inappropriate.
The police eventually showed up but didn’t disperse us. They stood at a distance, watched, and later walked away, as eventually did I, wondering if there was any lesson to be learnt from the drama. It doesn’t happen often around here.