A Christian college newspaper fired a student leading member of its staff because she offered food and drink to street preachers who were sharing the Gospel on the Indiana campus.
DePauw University “suspended” its student editor-in-chief, Nicole DeCriscio, from its campus newspaper, The Odyssey, for giving street preachers from The Campus Ministry USA sandwiches and drinks while they were reaching out to students on the campus located in Greencastle, Indiana.
Some students considered the street preachers’ ministry on campus last fall to be offensive for displaying signs reading “you deserve hell” and making statements condemning sexual promiscuity and drinking. As a result, several of the “offended” students led minor protests, while the campus newspaper ran a number of reports condemning the street preachers’ activities, which ultimately led the evangelistic group’s decision not return to the campus.
After the street preachers eventually left over the opposition, DeCriscio decided to write an op-ed as editor-in-chief titled “Why I Brought Brother Jed a Sandwich,” which was published as a piece on The Odyssey’s website. She contends that her post on the online content sharing site for millennials was ultimately what caused the university to terminate her from her position at the newspaper.
In her piece, DeCriscio described why she decided to bless the street preachers — including the evangelist group’s leader, Jed Smock — with an act of her own kindness.
“[I brought them sandwiches and drinks with the hope of] demonstrating Christ’s love [and communicating an] effective [message that] has the power to change the hearts and minds of others,” the Christian student wrote in her op-ed, according to the Christian Post.
As editor-in-chief, she explained the street preachers’ hearts for the students on campus.
“What I have found is that [Jed Smock] and other members of The Campus Ministry USA are completely different when you talk to them on an individual level,” DeCriscio expressed.” They are far gentler, and the love in their message, which isn’t conveyed when they’re screaming on sidewalks, shines through.”
She also noted that the evangelists were sacrificially showing the mercy, compassion and love to students on campus.
“I’m a Christian, and as such, I believe that God calls me and other Christians to universally show the love of Christ to others,” DeCriscio continued. “You don’t just turn this outpouring of love on or off depending on who it’s directed toward. It’s not a light switch. Doing so is the very opposite of showing Christ’s love because He showed love through corporal works of mercy to everyone, from the sinners to the pharisees and every possible person in between.”
After being dismissed from the newspaper, the former editor-in-chief explained that she was fired by the campus newspaper’s advisor, Meg Kissinger, because she gave students another interpretation of the street preachers and the heart of their ministry.
“The campus had decided to hate Brother Jed,” DeCriscio told the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) on its Feb. 17 “College Media Watchdog” blog post. “Because I saw him as a whole person, I think it was the content why I got fired. [Kissinger] said the same thing would have happened if I wrote about kittens, but I don’t believe that.”
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Michael F. Haverluck