Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Street preachers


Published on

Published in: Spiritual, News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Street preachers

  1. 1. 1847 Otterbein University Inaugural Issue 2012Behind the sandwich boards Schneider’s chaotic kitchen Hangover remedies that actually work Otterbein ballplayer pitches in
  2. 2. Singing and smiling from the sidewalkLocal preaching couple battles everything from failing health to financial hardshipto stay dedicated to their calling. MIKE CIRELLI senior editor/senior writer The story of how David and DeniseTripp met is a very unusual one. It begins in 1979 in Hemming Park,a trim, tree-lined splash of green in theskyscraper-packed city of Jacksonville,Fla. Denise and her friend Kristi hadjust finished up their shifts at a roadsidefruit vendor and were heading toward photo provided by david and denise trippthe nearby bus station. As they walked,they tried to stay within the shadowscast by the towering trees and bushessurrounding the park. It was a hot Mayafternoon, and they were eager to gohome and rest. Denise brushed a dropletof sweat from her tan forehead framedwith a halo of short brown hair. Suddenly, they heard shouting.“Sounds like there’s a Jesus freak outthere,” Denise said. She wasn’t worried,though. She was a devout Christian andhad no reason to be afraid of an especially David has been preaching since he was 18 years old, and Denisenoisy preacher. started preaching with him not long after the two wed in 1979. They neared the corner. Denisethought she heard running comingfrom the other side, but the large bushesblocked her view. The two girls rounded as if someone were watching her. She Denise’s premonition was correct:the bend, and out of nowhere a manic- turned around and saw the same tall man A little over a month later, David andlooking man toppled into them and staring at her. He stood up, walked over Denise Tripp were married.shouted at the top of his lungs, “WHAT and sat down next to her.DO YOU THINK ABOUT CAPITAL “I saw you in a dream,” the man said.PUNISHMENT?” The color of his dark brown hair matched Denise blinked, too afraid to even Denise’s almost perfectly. Thirty-two years went by. David’sremember what capital punishment was, Denise had no idea how to respond health deteriorated. He’s had surgerylet alone how she felt about it. The tall to that. She glanced around and noticed twice and has trouble breathing when heman’s stony gaze demanded a response. a big, fluffy yellow handkerchief sticking sleeps. His hip is weak and mandates the“Um … it’s a good thing,” Denise said, out of the man’s pants pocket. She use of a cane. When he walks, he hobbles.hoping that answer would assuage him. silently pulled it out, dipped it in the cool He can only preach outside for so long As soon as she uttered those words, fountain and wiped his sweaty forehead. before he needs to sit down — cops don’tthe man fired back, “YOU’RE GOING He looked at her like she was crazy. let him put a chair on the sidewalk, thisTO HELL!” “Somehow I feel we’re supposed to be is permissible only during a parade — Then he sped off down the sidewalk, together,” Denise said. and preaching in the cold is out of theshouting, preaching and condemning as “You mean in marriage?” he question. He’s exhausted all the time,if Judgment Day were right around the responded. and it’s not just because of his decliningcorner. “Yes,” she said. health. For years he worked at two jobs in Three weeks later, the two crossed “Tell me your name. Tell me your 12-hour shifts, one as a roaming securitypaths a second time. Denise was number. I gotta go pray about this,” he guard, the other as a bagboy at Kroger,once again waiting at the bus stop at ordered. but in December 2011 David was laidHemming Park. This time, she was alone. At this moment, Denise’s bus off from his security post. The letter theShe sat in front of a babbling fountain, pulled up. She quickly whispered the company mailed to David cited “lack ofwatching the sun’s wavy reflection in the information to the man and climbed suitable work to offer you at this time” aswater. Suddenly, she got a weird feeling, aboard. the reason. Denise’s health isn’t 1847 2012 20
  3. 3. “ students. David and Denise start the My mind says you’re young. My body says you’re day’s work. She stands, sandwich board ” tired. My heart says don’t listen to either one of astride, and smiles her signature smile. He cracks open the old, brown hymnal them. Listen to God. book and, without a trace of inhibition, starts belting out centuries-old church chorales in the middle of the sidewalk. David Tripp Students stare; most keep walking. A couple students strike silly poses around the preachers while another student takesin such bad shape, but she too admits I introduce myself, and they’re both photos. Denise keeps right on smiling,that throughout the years, the open-air exceedingly nice. Unprovoked, David David keeps right on singing.preaching they do at colleges and high delves right into his past.schools has become more difficult. “Been doing open-air preaching 42 Red and orange leaves spiral to the years. Started out at 18 years old, 1971.ground on the Otterbein campus. A I got with the Jesus people — Christian David bursts out in song again, thisbright blue sky hangs above the deserted hippies. We were in some big, big events, time at an old folks’ home. He andCampus Center. It’s 11:15 a.m., 45 especially Richard Nixon’s impeachment.” Denise have come here once a weekminutes before the campus erupts into He pushes his glasses into place with his for the past six years to minister to theactivity, with students making their daily long fingers. “What I saw made me sick.” elderly. The only times they don’t go areexodus from dorm to class, or vice versa. Denise took over after this. She when the weather holds them up, they’reBut for now, it’s quiet enough to hear a explains how they met each other that sick or they just don’t have the gas forfaint breeze whisper past your ears. day in Florida, 819 miles from where their car. David, tall, gray-haired and a tad they now stand. Denise is looking stately as usual,on the heavier side, is wearing a bright “I told my mom we were getting with a bright blue dress, a necklace ofblue shirt that quotes, in thick capital married,” Denise recalls. “She drops her pearls, black flats and pantyhose. Davidletters, a verse from Revelation: “FEAR coffee cup and says, ‘No, you’re not.’ Six is dressed in his typical black and grayGOD AND GIVE GLORY TO HIM.” weeks later, we were married. And we’ve apparel. His singing fills the little roomHe wears a watch and carries a book of been married 32 years. The Lord just we’re in, most likely a cafeteria. Fourhymns. went BANG. Didn’t propose or nothing. residents sit at the long tables adorned Denise, her ever-present smile My brothers and my mom just took with vases of flowers. A counter with aplastered on her face, has a sandwich David right in.” She shifts her gaze to coffee machine sits in the back. On theboard strapped on her shoulders. “YOU David. “But he’s been there when my wall, a notice reads, “THE YEAR ISDON’T HAVE TO GO TO HELL” brothers got married, when our nieces 2011. THE MONTH IS NOVEMBER.hovers above a poorly animated flame, and nephews have been born.” And then TODAY IS WEDNESDAY. THEand then, “… says the Lord Jesus!” Her she says, with a very loving tone, “He’s DATE IS 9TH. THE WEATHERshort black hair is tucked behind her ears, been a part of everything.” TODAY IS RAINY.” Other thanand a pair of squinty eyes peer out from The clock strikes noon, and the David’s voice, only the occasionalbehind her thin-rimmed glasses. streets of Otterbein’s campus fill with footsteps in the hall can be heard. David’s singing is heartfelt, but clearly not professionally trained in the slightest. His vibrato is lousy, his pitch is way off, his performance is overbearing and uncomfortable. “Now I’ll pep it up a little bit,” he says before trying, unsuccessfully, to go up an octave. The old folks, six total, watch quietly and attentively. One of the women idly adjusts the placemat under one of the flower vases. He finishes. No applause, just blank gazes, some directed to the window. Rain streaks down the glass. “I’m old, but I’m young ’cause my mind says you’re young,” David says. “My photo by mike cirelli body says you’re tired. My heart says don’t listen to either one of them. Listen to God.” Denise stands up. “You want me to get you some, David?” “Yes, if you will, coffee.” David and Denise have traveled to 230 universities in 15 states, the farthest being Colorado. They also started preaching at nearby high schools in the past year. (Continued on page 23)21 1847 2012
  4. 4. The street preachers share a small apartment on the eastside of Columbus. When theyaren’t busy preaching or when David’s not working, the twolike to watch a title from their large collection of movies,read their Bibles together and post on Facebook. photo by mike cirelli
  5. 5. After Denise finishes up, we leave thenursing home. Puddles in the parking lotripple with raindrops. The sky is whiteand gray and cloudy. David limps to hiscar with his cane, coughing as he goes.He loses his breath in the short trip tothe car. He says he started using the cane fourmonths ago. His doctor told him he’sgoing to be in a wheelchair for the restof his life unless he gets hip replacementsurgery in his right leg. “It’s just bonegrinding bone now,” he says. “That’s whyI don’t stand three-four hours on campusanymore.” David refuses to admit himself to anursing home because he doesn’t wantto leave Denise alone. He tells her shewouldn’t be able to pay the bills on herown. They gently place their Bibles inthe trunk of their dark green sedan.Three bumper stickers adorn the back photo by mike cirelliof their car: One an American flag, thesecond a 2008 McCain endorsement,half of which is ripped off, and thethird advertising Calvary Chapel, theirnondenominational church. Three Otterbein students strike poses next to David as he preaches on the sidewalk in front of the Campus Center. He said that while college students David and Denise don’t see their can become pretty rowdy while he and Denise preach, high school studentsfamilies very often. David’s son from are usually even more aggressive.his first marriage, Anthony, tries to takethem out about once a month, but long David and Denise lost their first child dimensions (21 pounds, 21 inches long,hours at work give him little time to during pregnancy and decided to give up 15 inches tall), the way he seemed to bedo anything but sleep. David’s brother, on having children together after several genuinely concerned when David andMelvin, lives with his partner in another other miscarriages. One day, about a year Denise were sick and his apparent abilitystate. after the first miscarriage, David came to only grant Christians entrance into the David doesn’t hate his brother home with an 8-week-old kitten. apartment.for being gay; neither he nor Denise “Joshua,” Denise says with tidy But it is David’s responses thathave any hatred for anyone, including pronunciation and affection. “It was are more interesting. He remainsall gay people, though he does think perfectly marked. It had four white feet. uncharacteristically silent save thehomosexuality is sinful. “Hate the sin, If you put Josh in the sunlight, you could occasional sigh or whispered remarknot the sinner,” became David’s mantra. go ahead and see stripes on him.” of affirmation. Every few minutes heNeither David or Denise agree with Lady Denise sits barefoot on the couch in quietly says, “He was a different kind ofGaga’s recent theology on the subject. her and David’s Columbus apartment. cat” — the same comment every time,(They were not born that way, David said, David sits next to her wearing a blue shirt never elaborating on the statement, butbut they became that way through their with the word JESUS stamped across the sounding more and more despondentenvironment and experiences.) front, his long legs stretched out in front each time he says it. You’ll never catch either of them of him. The cat lived an unusually long life atwearing a “GOD HATES FAGS” “He was a great companion,” Denise 18 years. They never took in another petsandwich board a la the Westboro says. “Very much so … very much so.” because Denise became allergic to theBaptist Church, however. Both David Denise rapturously expounds on the hair.and Denise have stated, forcibly, that cat the way parents talk about their kids, “One of these days I’m going to getthey think the WBC’s methods are with bursts of pride and compassion a cat again,” David says weakly. Denisewrong and they’re making all open-air lighting up each syllable she speaks. laughs affectionately and says, “He stillpreachers look bad. They hate the fact She tells me of Joshua’s on-again-off- thinks about that cat and he’ll startthat Otterbein students have compared again relationship with a cat who lived crying.”them to the WBC simply because they nearby, a “beautiful white female” with Mike Cirelli is a junior journalism major andwear sandwich boards. “glittery blue eyes.” She details his exact is the senior editor/senior writer for 1847.23 1847 2012