Living Out West for the Gospel

Mariah’s Mission in Utah

Mariah served on the GenSend Salt Lake City team during the summer of 2022. Her high school youth pastor challenged her to participate in GenSend, thinking she would be an excellent fit for a summer on mission.

“Multiple people mentioned it to me after him, so I looked more into it. Eventually, I just applied,” Mariah explained.

At the time, she had no specific calling to Utah other than the appeal of living out west, so that’s where she decided to go.

Utah’s community, especially in Salt Lake Valley, is a unique place to share the gospel. Most people there associate themselves with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” church). They talk about Jesus, read the Bible and often appear to believe in the gospel.

Mariah describes their religion this way: “They are very religious, and it is easy to share the gospel, but they are what Romans 10:2 describes as ‘zealous, but apart from knowledge;’ they are passionate, but they have the wrong gospel.”

Mariah went into her summer studying their beliefs and emerged from the summer with a broken heart for the lostness in Utah. “The thing that breaks my heart is that they genuinely desire to know Jesus—they just think they have to work to find salvation.”

Mariah formed friendships with many LDS church members in Utah and shared the gospel with them despite how challenging it was.

After coming home to Charleston, South Carolina, where she attended college, she still had a heart for the LDS church. She met them in coffee shops, invited them to her graduation party, and shared the gospel with them at every opportunity.

Utah was still on her mind as she navigated her next steps after college. Her city coach in Utah gave her the chance to return indefinitely, and she took it. In her last semester of college, she trained a team of college students from her university to participate in GenSend with her in Utah.

“We did evangelism training, learned about the LDS beliefs and processed through conflict resolution before we arrived in Utah. It made our team so much better, and all of our friends we met there could see how much we loved each other.”

Her team hosted game nights, had ice cream socials with their friends and shared the gospel frequently with LDS church members. From this experience, one of her team members decided to transfer schools and move to Utah with Mariah to live on mission alongside her immediately following her GenSend summer.

Because they will both live there, they feel excited to continue sharing and praying for the people they built relationships with over the summer.

After graduation, Mariah packed up her car and drove across the country to live in Utah—away from her family, friends and everything familiar. When asked about her decision, Mariah responds: “I am a bondservant of Christ, and He is my life. He is worthy of it all.”

Published November 3, 2023