Mesa Community College has an open campus policy that allows the public to access most campus buildings and facilities during school operating hours. With the school’s acknowledgement organizations, including religious groups, can set up a booth to advertise. No one seizes the opportunity quite like The Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Chances are, any person that frequents the campus has encountered the Jehovah’s Witnesses or LDS members.
Both groups set up tables or station volunteers on campus to offer information about their religion throughout the week. Proselytizing is a daily effort and they carry out their work because of their deep faith in their own respective religions. However, while there are distinct differences between the two religions, both are united in their goal to spread the ‘good word’ and offer support to the students of MCC.
Gerrit Van Leeowen and Vincent Allen are volunteers out of a dedicated group of Jehovah’s witnesses who offer their time to operate their church’s information booth in the Kirk Center. According to the volunteers, their policy is to always be available for students to talk to, but never to actively seek out a student’s attention. “We get individuals from the Middle-East that will talk to us, and their belief system is a little bit different [than ours] but now that they’re here in the United States, they want to see how it differs and what’s the same, and who our deity is as compared to who theirs is,” Gerrit said. “So, there is a lot of information exchanged but it’s always in the spirit of humility.”
The volunteers say they strive to be open-minded and point out that they offer general information that can be used to tackle issues students may struggle with like depression. Overall, the Jehovah’s Witnesses volunteers say they want to share what they know and are grateful for the opportunity to work hard on campus for the student’s benefit. Likewise, Mormon’s also work to be helpful and offer information about their church. Yette Bleyl is a Sister Missionary in service for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and she too dedicates a lot of time in service to others with her companion, since missionaries are required to travel in pairs.
“We wake up at 6:30 in the morning, and then we do some studies, and then we are normally out of the house at 10:00. We either go teach an appointment or we try to find some people, either members of the church that are inactive or we go try to find people that have shown interest in the church before,” Bleyl said. “The evenings its much of the same.” Missionaries will approach strangers to try and strike a conversation about their church. At MCC, missionaries accompany LDS students that advertise events or meets that the Latter-Day Saints Student Association Club (or L.D.S.S.A.) hold at the institute building.
Students interested in learning more about Jehovah’s Witnesses can find the information booth in the Kirk Center on Monday or Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or log onto jw.org. Information about Latter-Day Saints can be obtained via the website at lds.org or by visiting the LDS Institute building across from MCC campus on Dobson Road and north of Banner Desert Medical Center.