Every Monday, upon walking into Wells Hall from the back entrance near Starbucks, the ‘Wells Hall Preacher’ Priest Michael Venyah or his wife Tamika Venyah greet students with their sermons.
“I go to college campuses to preach because the lord Jesus Christ commands in Mark 16:15 ‘go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,’” Michael said.
Michael is the founder and Pastor of Soulwinners Fellowship Church in East Lansing. He is a Michigan State Alumni, who says he was not always a Christian.
“Concerning different religions, I before I came to christ, I went the gammant of: at one point I was a confessed Atheist, Agnostic, I studied Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism. So I studied many of the major belief systems,” Michael said.
Michael says he was saved his senior year of college.
“July 15th 1993, the lord commanded me on friday morning in the state of Kansas, he said, ‘I’ve called you to the ministry, go to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,’” Michael said. “I was just so compelled to tell others because when I was a student here at MSU when I was a senior I was a sinner headed to hell as all the students.”
So preach he does. Michael has preached on over 100 college campuses and has been preaching at MSU’s designated area for free speech, Wells hall, for 26 years and he feels that it is making a difference.
“The good news is Galatians 2:20 says ‘I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but christ lives within me,’ I have not made the impact but Jesus Christ has made the impact,” Michael said.
Some students like Alexandra Balmaceda question Michael and Tamika’s methods of preaching.
“I’m Catholic myself, so I believe in Jesus and yes I would love for people to turn to Christ, people who don’t already believe in him. But, I believe in doing that through love and kindness, not through their fear and forced style of preaching,” Balmaceda said.
However, Michael claims that raising one’s voice is necessary in this kind of setting.
“When we engage people in a one on one discussion of course we don’t lift our voices. But with people shouting, if someone asks a question and people are shouting: you have to raise your voice in order for them to hear,” Michael said.
The volume is one factor that could turn away some people, but Balmaceda who comes and listens every week does not see that as the only deterrent.
“Basically every person that walks by: they yell at them and they say that ‘you’re going to hell.’ And they like last week she (Tamika) called me a ‘hoe,’” Balmaceda said.
Tamika called Balmaceda a ‘hoe,’ presumably because of the outfit Balmaceda was wearing.
I was there the week before too in the 90 degree heat. As I was sweating profusely in my shorts and t-shirt, Tamika was yelling at the girls in the crowd, telling them to cover themselves up for the sake of modesty. At one point she said that women should cover themselves in order to not distract men.
“They make people feel like they’re being attacked and like the church hates them,” Balmaceda said. “They don’t make people feel like they’re loved which is what Christianity should be about and they pose a bad name for all Christians.”
Some may disagree with Michael and Tamika’s way of preaching, but that does not discourage them.
“Sometimes students will say we’re intolerant, but really we’re telling them the truth,” Michael said.
For more on this story , you can listen to the Undercurrent’s episode “Sort of Salvation,” or find us on iTunes by searching “The Undercurrent,” with the red and black logo.