On the West Mall of the University of Texas at Austin, student organizations set up tables and hand out food or fliers to students crossing campus. It’s the free speech zone, so naturally street evangelist Cliffe Knechtle sets up shop there for one week each year.
Knechtle preaches short sermons for five minutes or so and then takes all kinds of questions. About 150 students gather around him, some sitting on concrete steps eating lunch. Students take their place behind the open mike. He has been traveling from campus to campus for 32 years, a tour that takes him up and down the country from east to west each year.
He got his start on the staff of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, but often found himself frustrated with his limited reach.
“Every time I spoke in a dorm lounge, the only students that showed up was Christians,” he said. “I was not going to spend the rest of my life telling Christians how to accept Christ.”
So Knechtle started a ministry called “Give Me an Answer.” He talks to skeptics on secular campuses, offering what he calls “real answers to tough questions about Christianity.”
The college students who stop for a few moments to listen to Knetchle might not like the answers he gives or the questions he raises. But he hopes what he says will prompt at least some of them to re-think their assumptions about life and about God.
“I’m trying to listen to people and push their thinking to its logical conclusion,” he said. “And they don’t like that. They do not like that, because it’s embarrassing, especially if you’re an atheist or a secularist or a materialist—it is downright embarrassing.”
Listen to more from Cliffe Knechtle on The World and Everything in It:
WORLD News Group’s Sophia Lee has taken an inside look at Los Angeles street preachers.
Read how a New Orleans street preacher found an unlikely ally in the American Civil Liberties Union.
Marvin Olasky wrote about the impact Cliffe Knechtle has on college students.
Check out the answers Cliffe Knechtle gives to college students’ common questions.