We get a lot of visitors on Hesston’s campus, but it’s not very often that they’re unwelcome. According to Juli Winter, Hesston College Director of Campus Life, 12-15 young men were seen on campus Friday talking to students and telling them about their religious beliefs, asking for phone numbers, and inviting them to bible studies. But they weren’t invited.
The van of men weren’t just walking outside, students like freshman Malik Ellis described their actions as much more bold.
“I’m in the library working on an assignment and its due in 30 minutes and the guy says, ‘Hey you mind if I share a little Bible study with you?’ I was like, I’m not going to turn him down,” said Ellis. “I got stopped three times while they were here.”
The men were very persistent with the students and were clearly determined to share their religious views.
“The guy talks about the Passover and how their church is the only one that celebrates that in the entire world,” said Ellis. “And then he says to me if you don’t celebrate the Passover you’re not going to heaven or at least that is how he describe it. He said the Passover is the only way to get the seal of God and if you don’t have it you will have the mark of the beast which means you worship the devil. It was crazy.”
Although it is unknown what religion they were promoting, we do know we are not the only college to have been visited by religious recruiters. Friends University and WSU have also reported having issues with a van of male church members. The Wichita Eagle reported on similar incidents, though the men appeared to be more aggressive with how they interacted with students.
The men were eventually escorted off of campus by resident directors and the Hesston police. Although they appeared to pose no imminent threat, Winter’s follow-up email to students asked them to be smart about interacting with unfamiliar people on campus.
“Although there was no trouble, an occurrence like this serves as a reminder to all of us that we all share in the responsibility of keeping ourselves and campus safe and must remember to never giving out personal information to strangers nor entering a stranger’s vehicle, and to remain aware of our campus surroundings and report anything that seems unusual,” she said.
In other words, here at Hesston we enjoy visitors and new people. We just prefer the ones that were actually invited.