I didn't know anything about Brother Jed when my brother Joshua invited him to preach at Purdue. Josh asked me to go with him to see an evangelist on campus, but he wouldn't answer any of my questions about it. “Just come and see.” Well I figured I didn’t need to hear an evangelist, because I was already a Christian. I dropped him off at campus as I had something else to do that day. When I picked him up, he pointed to Brother Jed in the distance. I was surprised he was preaching out in the open as I expected him to be in a building with hundreds of people listening. My curiosity was high, but Josh would still not answer my questions. He just said he would show me videos when we got home. He showed me video after video that evening. I was so shocked that people did this. I had never heard anything like it before and was very curious about it. Josh kept asking what I thought and I kept saying "I don't know." Finally I said, "That's great that he's doing that, but I don't think I could."
After a couple days, he decided to travel with Brother Jed for three days. Those three days turned into six weeks. I was very curious and could not wait for Josh to come home so I could hear all about it. I would read Brother Jed's journal notes on Facebook every night. I was so excited that Josh had found something he was passionate about. For so long I had seen him searching for his mission, and I was so excited to see that he had found it. I would stay up late just to read what had happened that day.
Josh came back from that trip a man. He had grown up so much. He showed me video after video when he came back of campus preachers and street preachers. Watching the videos of all those people who were so bold for Christ made me bold. I was immersing myself in a culture of boldness. Before I even met Brother Jed and Sister Cindy, I wasn’t afraid of talking to people in public anymore. When I was younger, I used to be extremely shy, but over a process of several years God had helped me to overcome my shyness. By the time I found out about Brother Jed, I was no longer shy, but I was still shy in public settings. I didn’t like talking to anyone in public, not even a cashier. But, by watching these videos, I was no longer afraid of talking to people in public.
I had also been feeling a great deal of restlessness, especially during the last year before I started preaching. I knew there was a calling on my life, but I didn’t know what it was. I was becoming more and more discontent with where I was. I was thinking of going on a mission trip somewhere, but I didn’t know where. As I watched these videos, I started thinking about how Josh was going out there and preaching, and how I was just “sitting at home doing nothing.”
Josh really wanted his family to meet the Smocks so we were invited over to dinner at their house one Saturday. That Friday, I heard about the preacher's conference in Gettysburg that they were going to the next Tuesday. I really really wanted to go to that. It was a strong desire in me. At this point I wanted to go out and talk to people on campuses, but I wasn't sure whether or not girls should preach.
I asked Josh about the conference, but to my surprise he did not encourage me at all. He only said, "Just meet the Smocks first." One thing that surprised me about Josh is that he never encouraged me to be involved. That was the best thing for me because I knew that it was fully my desire and no one else's.
The one person who made a big impact on me to understand that the preaching was motivated by love and really inspired me was Brother Dean. I was drawn to it because I reasoned, “Nobody can be that crazy and NOT be on-fire for God.”
Meeting the Smocks was one of the most exciting moments for me. I was not scared at all as some are. I knew they would be nice. During the visit, Brother Jed asked me if I wanted to preach and I said that I wasn't sure about preaching but wanted to talk to people on the sidelines sometime. I still didn't know if girls should preach and didn't know if I would do a good job of it. Preaching was still a little intimidating. Sister Cindy asked me if I wanted to go to Gettysburg with them. There was no hesitation on my part. “Yes!”
So I was going, and I was ecstatic. I asked my dad if it was okay for girls to preach and he said it was fine because evangelizing is different than being in authority in a church setting. Once I knew that it was okay, I didn’t think about whether I was going to preach or not. It was only natural. During this whole process, I was like a child. It was all very simple. I had found my calling and I was going to do it. There was no fear, no big debate. I just knew that I could and I wanted to. So that was that.
I sort of preached for the first time at the Gettysburg conference when I raised my voice against a wicked hypocrite. That conference was the best week of my life. I learned so much from the speakers and other people there and also got to have some practical experience on the streets.
A week later, we also went to a Montana Street Preacher’s conference and learned so many things.
I went to a family camp meeting with Brother Jed and Company a couple weeks later and that really prepared me for the year as there was much moving of the Holy Spirit there.
But what really prepared me was an event preach near the end of August in Chicago that Joshua, me and Ryan all went to. I was the only girl that preached and it was my first preach. I was nervous all week about it, but even more excited. It ended up being a really great experience and I realized that preaching felt really natural to me. It really prepared me for preaching on a campus.
Mikhail and Ryan were staying with Brother Jed this whole time, and Ryan stayed at our home for a few days before I started preaching on the campuses. My first time preaching on campus was with Josh and Ryan at Purdue, our local campus. Josh was supposed to be the one to start out the preaching as Ryan's voice was completely gone and I hadn't preached before, except once in Chicago. But he hadn't started the preaching before either so he just stood there for like 15 min. Finally I had been stirred up in my spirit and decided to preach. I stood up on the concrete block, raised the Bible in my hand and said, "This is a Holy Bible for a Holy God." I continued preaching and a bunch of guys came and just stood there watching me. After a little while I had a good crowd. I asked Josh if he wanted to preach, but he said I was doing great and to keep going. I was running out of things to say and my voice was tired but I continued for a few more minutes until I was completely out of things to say. I had preached for about a half an hour. Then Josh started preaching and we preached back and forth for the rest of the day. During that day people were constantly trying to steal my sign and a demon-possessed lady came up and tried to intimidate me, but Josh kept them back from me. It was one of the most thrilling days of my life.
Watch a video of my preaching here.