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Traveling minister brings word to campus

by Tamara Woods
ATHENAEUM STAFF

Jeers, catcalls and obscenities are yelled at him as he tries to preach the gospel in front of the Mountainlair. Perhaps his views do not mesh with conventional thought, but he still comes back every year.

Tom Short is a traveling evangelical speaker who visited the West Virginia University campus Tuesday. Short’s livelihood is based on traveling to different places and preaching. He’s from Columbus, Ohio, but travels across the country. His paycheck comes from people’s donations.

“Currently I have not been pastoring in a church,” Short said. “I’ve been in Columbus, Ohio, Silver Springs, Md., Atlanta, Ga. and San Diego, Calif.”

“There’s nothing wrong with questioning the Bible. You can question with humility and with the fear and desire to know God,” said Short to a crowd of students.

Short is affiliated with the Great Commission Ministries. “We’re an association of churches. I’m the only one who travels and preaches,” Short said. “We have missionaries and churches in about fifteen different countries.”

Locally, the Chestnut Ridge Community Church works with the Great Commission Ministries.

Short said when he was growing up, he began to doubt the Bible and Christianity. He experimented with other religions like Buddhism, and still holds non-Christian beliefs like reincarnation. Then he had an experience that turned him back to the Christian faith.

“I picked up the Bible and read the New Testament, just thinking that I needed to read it sometime in my life,” said Short with a smile, “And something happened, that God spoke to my soul. And that was the start of me coming back to Jesus Christ.”

But why would someone subject himself to repeated ridicule?

“I believe that there is a biblical pattern to evangelism and that it works,” said Short.

He has an easy method to dealing with the daily hassles and opposition of his chosen career.

“I credit that to God. I ask God each day to control me and keep me filled with his holy spirit. And I know that as people do this, others are looking for my reaction. So, rather sink to their level, I rise above it. As any good Christian should,” said Short.

“I know that the students who are opposed to what I have to say are the most vocal,” Short continued. “There’s a lot of students who are quietly watching and praying and appreciate my ministry.”

Many students yell obscenities and others try to reason with the traveling preacher.

“A guy who’s been very obnoxious for the past couple of days asked me some very serious questions toward the end of the day,” Short said. “I’m willing to endure people who are obnoxious to help them in the long run.”

Short had quite a few things to say about relationships to the crowd of people.

“Men will only do what women require. If you require a man to comb his hair, he’ll do it. If you tell him that you won’t hate him if he’ll look at pornography, then he’ll look at pornography,” said Short.

He thinks that the pornography on the Internet has gone too far.

“When I was a young guy, it (pornography) could be seeing a girl’s breasts,” he said. “But it’s a lot more now. I think that a lot of it is criminal acts, and should be illegal.”

Short’s message on being a sexually active woman is quite clear.

“If you’re an easy lay, you’ll find guys who want to date you, but you won’t find many who will want to marry you,” Short said. “I do not condemn anyone. My message is not one of condemnation, but of redemption.”

However, not all students share this opinion.

Brandy Griffin, a junior education and Spanish major, feels that Short doesn’t have a listening ear and an open mind.

“For one thing, he ignores a lot of people’s questions, or changes the subject,” Griffin said. “If what he wants to do is to convert people to Christianity, then bringing the whole hell fire and brimstone thing into it is not a very positive way to do it.”

“I believe that love, any love, is a good thing. Tom preaches love with a catch,” Griffin continued. “There’s a double standard. He said that if he is attracted to a woman other than his wife, he can’t help that, so it’s not bad. But if I would be attracted to another woman, then I’d go straight to hell.”

On homosexuality, Short makes his views quite clear.

“I believe homosexuality is a sin. And like any other sin, it is incompatible in living with Christian life,” said Short, “And when people come to Jesus, they should stop engaging in it and in time they can deliver themselves from it. But every sin stems from an evil desire of who they are. And we need to recognize that and rise above it.”

Though some churches of Christian denominations are beginning to see homosexuality in a different light, Short does not agree with them.

“The churches that accept it (homosexuality) are the churches that are moving away from the Bible and they’re dying out,” he said. “It’s those churches that say it’s wrong, that give them (homosexuals) some hope to change.”

Although he has many opinions on what is right and what is wrong, Short believes that there is a higher power.

“I’m not a judge. But God is a judge and He will judge us by His laws not by rules that we make of our own,” Short said.

Though he may try to facilitate a relationship between God and people, students like Griffin feel that he’s using the wrong means.

“He needs an open mind. He has tunnel vision in my opinion,” said Griffin. “I think that he’s going about it the wrong way to convert people to Christianity. However, I’m not going to try to oppress him because because that would be stooping to his level.”

Griffin feels that Short and people like him have a right to say what they feel. But she also believes a change should be made in the material presented there.

“It’s a free speech area, so they have the right to say what they want. I don’t agree with his view, because I’m not a Christian,” said Griffin.

“I’m sick of hearing about it (Christianity) so much, “ Griffin continued. “It’s nice that we have a free speech area, because not everyone does. But it would be nice if we heard about other religions. Not to necessarily convert us, but to show us what is out there.”

Short will be traveling to Michigan and Florida next.

For more information, visit Short’s web site www.shortreport.com.

The Daily Athenaeum, October 13th, 1999