A few students would sidle up to politely listen to what he had to say. Some would offer challenges and barbs and await responses. Others would hurl epithets. Most, like me, simply ignored him and walked on.
I was embarrassed for him. I never remained within earshot long enough to catch his three teaching points. One message that I did pick up loud and clear, however, was that we students were bound for hell.
I elected not to be judgmental. An agnostic at the time, I considered myself open-minded. I figured he was either a good-hearted soul who sincerely believed what he spouted, or he was completely delusional and not worthy of my time.
As a serious public relations student, I attempted to critically assess his marketing approach.
"Buddy," I mused, "if you are truly sincere about your message, couldn't you have come up with a more effective way to communicate it?"
A decade later — as a father of four with a mortgage and a yearning for something transcendental in my life — I abandoned stale agnosticism for Christianity. I've never second-guessed that decision.
Last week, I watched as a few members of the media cast Franklin Graham in the same light as the old fire-and-brimstone guy at my college. That's unfair.
You've undoubtedly heard of Graham. He's founder of Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization that provides aid to victims of war, poverty, natural disaster and disease. It's an agency that does an enormous amount of good work worldwide.
Graham, son of famed evangelist Billy Graham, told Newsmax that the recent Japanese earthquake and tsunami might presage the Second Coming.