Utah mission trip energizes Scarborough students
Fifteen Scarborough College students met challenges and reaped rewards as they evangelized door to door in a Utah polygamist community near the campuses of Brigham Young University and Utah Valley University over winter break.
Accompanied by Scarborough professors Sarah Spring and Daniel Weaver, the team worked with Troy and Janis Walker, former Southwestern students now living in Orem, Utah. After marrying and graduating, the Walkers were called to assist in planting a new church there.
The group also went door to door in mobile home communities populated by Hispanic Catholics, former Mormons, and Mormons who are in the church welfare program. “We also encouraged and loved the Walkers,” says Spring, associate professor of English. “Evangelicals are less than 1 percent of Utah’s population, so it can be very lonely there.”
Houston Arledge, a bachelor’s student in humanities and biblical studies, agrees. “Utah is a spiritually dark place, and it is important to support those who are spreading the light and truth of the Gospel by sending encouragement and visiting them in person. It is a lonely place for a Christian to be.”
“As we were walking around the campuses, I could sense that many of the people were living in a state of hopelessness,” adds Allen Featherstone, a bachelor of science student in biblical studies. On the Utah Valley campus, he and two others on the trip met a student who had been born and raised in Utah and had never heard the Gospel.
“We were able to spend over an hour with Josh, listening to him and sharing with him,” says Featherstone. “I left our conversation that day having shared the Gospel twice with Josh, and with a great fulfillment that we planted a seed that will begin to take root in Josh’s life.”
“We had many good Gospel conversations, and many students have now developed ongoing relationships with college students they met at BYU and Utah Valley University,” says Weaver, assistant professor of spiritual formation. “Many people do not realize there are many splinter groups within the Mormon movement. Because they are outcasts from mainstream LDS (Church of Latter-day Saints) society, they are more welcoming to evangelical groups, probably because evangelicals are outcasts as well.”
For Arledge, a highlight of the trip was getting to pray with people on their porches at Rocky Ridge Polygamist Community. “Because they are viewed as outcasts in society, they weren’t used to seeing someone who cares for them,” he says. “Those prayers were an opportunity to show biblical love, and to share a true Gospel that is seldom heard in Utah.”
Spring says that evangelizing door to door was a challenge, “but we found that most were willing to at least say hello. Troy and Janis call it ‘Prayer on the Porch,’ where we just ask how we can pray for people. I was most affected by the last house when a young woman asked us to pray for comfort.”
This was the first time Scarborough College sent a team to this location, and Spring and Weaver hope it will become an annual experience.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is constantly adapting their beliefs and teachings to what will reach the culture,” Arledge says. “Showing that, as Christians, we stand firm in our faith and live out what the Bible teaches is a great way to minister to Mormons, to show love, know what the Bible says in context, and help them see that we are built on solid rock rather than shifting sand.”