Preaching on the street

For the past three weeks, six days a week, Lee Stevens has gotten up and made his way to the Ashland downtown Plaza by 11 a.m. to preach the word of the Lord.

"I am just trying to magnify Jesus Christ," he said. "It's not about me it's all about him and his message."

But Stevens is not a Christian.

"I believe in Jesus Christ," said Stevens, who goes to the plaza Monday through Saturday. "It keeps it real simple. No one's going to get me to be a Christian."

To Stevens, Christian America has got it all wrong. They are not manifesting the words of the Bible.

"How can you get the idea to hurt people for Jesus?" he asked. "Keep the law America. You are supposed to be strong. Though shalt not kill. Keep the law America."

Stevens grew up on a ranch in South Dakota without participating in organized religion, but he found the Bible when he was 30 years old through a Hawaiian man, whose approach to Jesus Christ attracted Stevens to faith because it was a direct connection. There was no religion to get in the way of the words, Stevens said, only the message.

"God changed my life completely," he said. "I went from whatever I was doing before to reading the Bible and preaching on the street."

He thumbed through his tattered blue Bible on a sunny Wednesday morning dressed in a button-up Hawaiian-style shirt and backward hat that read "Hawaii." His theme today is "wake up Christian America," a mixture of anti-war sentiment and reprimands on issues ranging from using weapons to stealing Hawaii from its people.

"It's stolen property America. Give it back," he said. "A thief is a shame when he is found in Christian America. So is Christian America a shame."

The weapons of American warfare, he said, are carnal &

put them down.

"All those who take the sword will perish by the sword, Christian America," he said. "Wisdom is better than weapons of war."

Stevens began traveling to preach in March 2001 after spending 23 years in Hawaii. He has come through Ashland a few times before and spent a couple of months here last year.

He preaches every day, except Sundays when he spends the day reading in nice spots he has found in the Southern Oregon University library.

Stevens chooses to preach around noon because it is the traditional time to preach. "Randomness or God" takes him places to preach. He is not attached to any organization and spreads the word of Christ out of his own love for it.

"I don't expect people to change because I am out here preaching," he said. "But I would like to get the word out there."

Only one woman, last week, complained to the Chamber of Commerce, and no one has complained to the police about Stevens.

Workers downtown have heard a few customers grumbling under their breath about the man on the Plaza, but no one has acted really upset, said Kayla Villegas, who works at The Ashland Outdoor Store.

Mary Davy, the owner of Rare Earth, said Stevens' preaching is a nice contrast to some of the other distracting stuff that happens downtown.

"I think it's fine. He is a gentleman who is spreading the word in a way that represents his faith," she said.

Steve Hansen, the case manager for Interfaith Care Community of Ashland, has helped Stevens get some work around town and supports the unique preaching style of Stevens.

"This is just what he does. It's his thing," Hansen said. "He spreads the word in his own way, he's a good guy."

Share This Story