Story by Monika Staszczak, Contributing writer
A Christian group called Truth on the Web Ministries came to the Murray State campus last week with big signs and loud preaching. It caught the attention of some Murray State students and staff.
The group set up their event on the Free Speech zone by the Curris Center, where they interacted with everyone, answering questions and explaining their beliefs.
To be able to use Murray State’s Free Speech zone, a group has to fill a request form, describing the type of event and other information, and then be approved.
Truth on the Web is an independent Church of God group from Woodstock, Illinois. It is not affiliated with any official church. Instead, members meet in each other’s houses for Bible study and worship. They state that their mission is to spread what’s written in the Bible and warn about the consequences of living a sinful life.
“To share a witness and a warning so that some would hear and be pricked in the heart and turn from sin to Christ in their lives” was the goal of this event, said Kenneth Hoeck, member of the Church of God group.
Ron Sessions, a minister from the Church of God at Woodstock was the main speaker at the event. Apart from preaching, he and a few others also discussed the teachings with all interested.
The youngest group members, around nine to 16 years old, held up signs that caught attention of passerby. Some signs stated “Jesus forgives sin.” Others gave examples of what sin is and the consequences of disobeying the Bible.
Some of the signs provoked discussions between preachers and the audience. One of them quoted the Bible, Matthew, Chapter 7, where according to the group, God states that sinners and disobedient people will burn in a lake of fire unless they turn to God. On the other side, the sign listed many different sins quoted from the Bible. Among those listed “sins” were homosexuality and feminism. These caused a lot of people to stop and try to understand.
Daniel Jessee, freshman at Murray State asked if as a guy, if he falls in love with another guy, he is going to burn in hell.
Sessions said being homosexual is setting the heart to something that is not proper. Committing that sin is disobeying God, he said.
Explanations like this one upset a lot of people, leading them to believe that the group is being hypocritical and judgmental.
“We are not here today to condemn you,” Sessions said to the crowd. “We are not here today to judge you.”
Danielle Williams, freshman at Murray State, stopped by the Church of God group because feminism was listed on that sign, and tried to understand why that is a sin. As it came from the Bible, Sessions explains, it can be interpreted as people that hold themselves above God, as if they have authority.
Sessions admits that this was a “poor choice of words,” out of context from the Bible, and does not really belong on the sign.
“We didn’t make the signs, we just got them from the organization,” Sessions said. He added that the signs are mainly used to catch people’s attention, and get people to talk to the members.
Not everyone limited themselves to simple verbal protest. One student decided to spray a bottle of Febreez on the event, as a “peaceful protest,” he said. Despite many controversial conversations, the event seemed to happen as expected for the Truth on the Web group.
“They’re happy with what they’re doing and that’s great, but there’s just no need to be so mean to people,” Williams said about the Church of God members.