By Alicia Ceccarelli
On Monday Nov. 3, students gathered outside Academic Forum and engaged in Christian conversation and religious debate with two evangelical preachers. Rumors spread among the crowd that one of the evangelists, Joy Toy of Delaware County, accompanied by colleague Mark Johnson, claimed that he was a rapist and a murderer before he found Christ.
After committing 30 years to evangelism, Toy accepts that things he will say will be taken out of context. He is used to people swearing, getting angry and saying things like “Hail Satan!” in an attempt to shock him. At one point during the debating, a female student got up, turned to her peers and asked, “Does anyone else want this guy to just shut the f— up?” Toy later dispelled the rumors. He is not a rapist, nor did he ever call himself a rapist while taking to students that day. In saying that he was a murderer, he was referring to his “easy” yet regretful decision to have an abortion with his fiancé when they were in college.
Psychology major, Alex Corson, voiced his opposition about God creating the world, which turned into a one-on-one debate lasting several minutes. Toy argued that science has its place in the natural world, but not the supernatural world. He gave Corson the opportunity to defend how he knew the theory of evolution was true. Corson brought up the big bang theory to defend his belief about how the world may have begun without God. Toy retorted quoting Einstein: “Energy cannot be created or destroyed” to convince Corson with science that the big bang theory could not start the universe. Corson was not opposed to Toy sharing his beliefs, but he did not feel that Toy’s approach was respectful. “He basically said that I was going to hell because I didn’t believe in a god, and implied I wasn’t intelligent because I cursed a few times.” Corson does not have a side particularly in the Christian/Atheist debate, but believes that neither should argue arrogantly as if they know everything. Corson and Toy shook hands.
One group of students who disagreed with Toy’s beliefs about homosexuality, made miniature picket signs protesting his credibility on the subject of sin, due to what Toy allegedly said about his life before finding God. The signs read: “You just said you’re an ex-murderer/rapist, WTF,” “Rape IS NOT OKAY,” “You’re disturbing our peace,” and “Gay is okay.”
While Toy stands by the fact that homosexuality is not in agreement with the Bible, he states that it is not the focus of his evangelism when going to campuses. “We want to try to tear down this Straw Man argument that Christian people hate (the homosexual) community… The reality is that the Bible tells us to love everybody… even if we disagree in viewpoint.” It is not Toy’s motive to put anyone in particular under the spotlight for his or her lifestyle choices. His aim is purely to get students engaging in conversation about Jesus Christ and to relay the message of hope that Jesus brings to the world.
“There is a lot of brokenness and pain, and we are there to remind them too, to say ‘Hey look, there’s a God who cares about you and a God that can be a part of your life.’”
Toy’s colleague, Mark Johnson, painted a visual with the purpose of getting students thinking about how they cope with life’s problems, accompanied Toy. Johnson noted that fellow Christians at AF were beginning to voice their beliefs, survey their peers, and use stories from the bible as references to their discussions.
The college setting is an important place for Toy and Johnson to carry out their missionary work because it was where they came to know God 30 years ago. Toward the end of the afternoon, the discussion broke off into small groups while Toy and Johnson mingled with some LGBTQ members who handed out their pins to support their peers.