UNION COUNTY — Sister Randall and Sister Wentz are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints also known as the Mormon Church or the LDS Church. The pair is in Union County for an extended stay as missionaries of the church.
They are on a year and a half mission to evangelize to citizens in the Union County area. Randall traveled from Arizona and Wentz traveled from Utah.
How do people of Christian denominations and/or beliefs evangelize during a global pandemic?
Though it often has a bad reputation, social media can be a blessing for those who want to share their faith with others. Randall explained that in light of COVID-19, mission work through the LDS Church was modified so that Facebook could be a major resource. For example, Randall and Wentz login to Facebook and join “What’ Up” pages. From there, they can find people with common interests and send them a video message asking if people would like to talk about having faith or possibly joining the LDS Church. She said they are allowed to have face-to-face conversations with people; however, they are advised to wear masks. Randall added that the church is transitioning back to in-person conversations because they are more personal; however, virtual mission work will likely remain as an alternate.
Randall and Wentz both said they were not afraid to come to North Carolina despite it nearing a million COVID-19 cases since March of 2020 and more than 12,200 virus related deaths. Wentz said she has received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Randall said whether she is diagnosed with COVID-19 or not is God’s will.
Evangelizing is how Randall and Wentz spend their days. It is unpaid, volunteer work. They neither have part-time nor full-time jobs. To pay for living expenses, Randall shared that missionaries in their twenties like she and Wentz rely on their parents for financial assistance, others spend time saving money before they go on a mission. The church provides financial assistance with tithed money and other programs.
Randall Wentz and other Mormon missionaries are assigned locations to evangelize by church leadership who have “divine revelations” about where each missionary should go, Randall said.
Given that Randall and Wentz were assigned to an area in the Bible Belt, it has made them study their Bibles and Books of Mormon more because a larger number of people in this region of the country tend to have a general understanding of the Bible and Christianity due to the vast number of churches.
Randall said the COVID-19 pandemic has made people more receptive to messages of peace and comfort. Too, she said people are oftentimes looking for “truth” and what she and Wentz believe happens to people after they die.
Once Randall and Wentz complete their mission work in Union County, they will go home to pursue higher education.