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Remember a Campus Legend:
The Late Jed Smock
aka “Brother Jed”
It’s with great sadness of heart that I tell you all, for those of you who don’t already know, my friend and mentor Jed Smock passed away and went to be with the Lord. He was a man faithful to his post. He was always the first on the campuses when the semester started and last to leave. Monday through Friday, five hours a day, five days a week, he would stand (or sit) in the open-air and preach the Gospel, defend the faith, and call sinners to repentance and faith. He did this for nearly 50 years, despite all the criticisms, attacks, and persecutions. No man that I know of preached the Gospel more than Brother Jed did.
The Faithful Soldier – Brother Jed passed away on the anniversary of D-Day: June 6th. He was always the faithful soldier, always at his post. Even as his health and body were failing, he continued to go out to the campuses weekly to preach the Gospel. Brother Jed got his wish. “I want to die with my boots on” he used to say. He was faithful until the end. Rev 14:13 – And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them
I was honored to have helped carry Jed Smock to his grave. His funeral was full of his converts, disciples, friends, and family. In life and in death he inspired me to holy living and evangelism. I still have dreams at night of joining him on campus. He paved the way and set a godly example.
Rest In Peace brother Jed. You fought the good fight. You finished your race. You went home to a huge reward! Thank you for your example.
STEPHEN F. AUSTIN UNIVERSITY, NACODOGHES TX
Joining Brother Jed on campus once a year was always the highlight of my year. It was watching Jed live in person that I learned the art of open-air preaching. I would see how he would draw a crowd with fire and brimstone, tame the crowd with the gospel, and captive the audience for hours and days as they circled around to listen to him do nothing more than preach the truth. I always thought to myself, “It doesn’t get better than this. This is the life!”
I didn’t know when I joined Jed on this Texas tour that it would be the last time that we got to preach together. I was honored when he pulled up a seat next to me to listen to me preach. He told people I was his favorite preacher. What an honor!
I always find it humorous when people who watch my Youtube videos would see a video of Brother Jed that I uploaded, people would comment, “Man, this guy preaches just like Brother Jesse!” Haha. I always had to tell them, “No, it’s the other way around. I learned how to preach on campus by watching Brother Jed.”
Whenever I preach on campus, I never have difficulty stirring up the hecklers and the crowd. Brother Jed was a master at crowd control. I’d watch him tame the crowd with a soft voice and a gentle answer. He knew when to give a hard word and when to be soft spoken. That was something I was still trying to learn from him, after preaching with him on campus for 15 years. After 50 years of practice he had mastered his craft.
Lessons I learned from Brother Jed included how to draw a crowd, preacher mannerisms and poses, how to dress professional, witty comebacks and one-liners, etc. All these things were tools that help in getting their attention, keeping their attention, and ultimately pointing their attention to Jesus Christ.
His book, “Who Will Rise Up?” is an evangelism classic! I was blessed to help him republish that book and get it back into circulation again. But watching him preach live or on video was always the greatest teaching and inspiration for open-air ministry.
I never preached with him on campus without leaving more on fire and inspired than before.
After campus we would always go out to eat. Jed lived on the road so eating out was always a habit and tradition after the campus outreach. After he preached for 5 hours or more on campus, he would be pretty quiet in the car or at the restaurant. He was an introvert with an extravert calling. That was something I could relate to. But when he did talk, it was deeply spiritual and meaningful. He was full of sound reason, wisdom, and logic. Anyone who got the chance to met him and spend time with him in person was blessed.
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS, DENTON TX
Brother Jed would always captive the crowd with his testimony and stories. That was another technique I learned watching him preach. Like Holy Hubert or Brother Max before him, he was a master story teller. That was also a crowd taming technique. He taught me, once the crowd becomes too big for questions and answers and it becomes chaotic, switch to story telling. He would sit down and tell stories and the students would just gather around and listen. The Bible even says that when Jesus taught the Sermon on the Mountain, that first he sat down and then he began to teach (Matthew 5:1). Jesus was also The Master Story Teller with his many parables and analogies.
Sister Cindy was Brother Jed’s faithful wife. She was a convert of his from the University of Florida. Like most of his converts, she started out as a mocker until she came under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. After converting to Christ, she became an active witness for the Lord herself. She traveled the country on grey hound buses, ministering on college campuses. A few years later, she married Brother Jed and they raised 5 daughters together. His daughters also joined him on campus at times to recite Bible verses or perform their musical talents to the crowds. Jed and Cindy were the perfect team.
Here you can see Jed in action with his story telling. The students were captivated and listened, occasionally asking questions. Sister Cindy worked the sidelines talking to students one-on-one. They were a real powerhouse couple on campus together!
A lot of times Brother Jed would ask me to start the meeting and draw the crowd. This was good practice to a young preacher who was trying to learn. It was difficult at first but eventually I could gather a crowd with ease. I also learned how to do this watching his wife Cindy, who had no problem getting the students attention and stirring up some hecklers. Then we would rotate preachers, usually every hour. Whoever preached next always had to come on hotter and heavier than the previous preacher, in order to keep the students attention and interest or else you would lose the crowd. In all my years preaching with Brother Jed, I never saw him lose a crowd. He always knew exactly what to do and what to say at the right time. It was routine clockwork to him and He was lead by the Spirit.
My favorite crowd control technique is preaching in front of a staircase or in an amphitheater where the students have a place to sit down. If they sit down, they calm down. And if they sit down, they stay for longer. It creates the best teaching atmosphere. Otherwise the students crowd in closely around you and it becomes more difficult to manage and harder for everyone to hear.
My open-air preaching is always a balance between the Law and the Gospel and also a mix of one-liners, apologetics, personal testimony, scriptures, and story-telling. With today’s generation you have to start with the most basic apologetics – the existence of God. I like to challenge the atheists, “who wrote the genetic code?” They can never answer that. I tell them, “The specified arrangement of nucleotide bases in the genetic code requires an intelligent mind for the same reason the meaningful arrangement of letters in a sentence does.”
We were indoctrinated as children in the public school with terms like “The simple cell.” The cell is not simple. There’s nothing simple about the cell. The reason they tried to say it was a simple cell was because they used to think a cell could form by mixing certain ingredients together in a premordial soup. As it turns out, the genetic code is required to make the proteins necessary for any living cell. We should call it the Complex Cell. It’s origin was Intelligence.
Brother Jed was a campus legend. He was known all over the country and all over the world because of his campus outreaches. Foreign exchange students made him famous in the Near East, Middle East and the Far East! No doubt he went home to a great and abundant reward.
With Brother Jed gone, there is a vacancy left on the campuses. His wife Sister Cindy has continued the ministry and calling in his place. She carries his torch. And I pray that the next 50 years of my life will be spent the way Brother Jed spent his. His was a life well lived.
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