Success for Wes

A campaign to promote an Easter service on the University of Nevada, Reno, campus started with a guest column in UNR’s student newspaper by senior Wes Watkins, a mechanical engineering major. Watkins wrote about his Christian faith.

Soon, students were wearing shirts that read, “I agree with Wes.” Others would ask, “What’s that shirt about?” Shirt-wearers invited them to the Easter service.

Some were annoyed by the gimmick. “I like Jesus,” said one professor, who didn’t want to be named. “But I think there’s an irritation due to the self-righteous mindset that says, ‘I know the truth, and you’d better believe it or else.'” One group, the Students for Independent Thought, posted fliers that read: “Are you sure you want to agree with What Evangelists Say?”

Watkins told me he considered the campaign a success.

Me: How did the “I agree with Wes” thing start?

Wes: “I agree with …” started at Humboldt State three years ago. Since then, it has taken place on over 100 campuses in the States, and I’ve even heard that it’s even been done in Europe. Probably, within the next couple years, “I agree with…” will have happened at every major college and university in America.

Me: What makes you want to convert people?

Wes: The entire point of this outreach was to share our faith with others, and in no way is wearing a T-shirt forcing anything. Statistics show that college students are more likely to think about spiritual things during Easter. Christianity is different than other religions, because it isn’t about what you do for God; it is about what He did for you. Jesus has changed my life in incredible ways. I experience love and joy and peace incomparable to anything in this world; all I am trying to do is share this with others.

Me: What do you think of the contra-Wes campaigns?

Wes: The First Amendment is a beautiful thing. I was really impressed by the creativity of some of the anti-Wes stuff, even though the outreach had nothing to do with “Wes.”

Me: Have you had any confrontations with critics?

Wes: For the most part, everyone I met was really cool, and they thought it was a neat idea, even if they didn’t agree. When critics did confront me, they just wanted to argue. But after they saw that I was just a regular dude who had something to share, they were more than willing to talk. I had a great 45-minute conversation with a guy who got my attention by screaming, “Die, Wes! Die!”

Me: Even some people who dig Jesus are irritated with the marketing ploy or with the attitudes shown by some individuals wearing “I agree with Wes” shirts. Do you have any control over this?

Wes: This outreach is not about “Wes” or anybody wearing a green shirt, but it’s about Jesus. We had enough training and prayer going into this, and we did our best to tell people not to wear the shirt for any reason other than love. We weren’t trying to sell anything.

Find more info at Reach the Students for Independent Thought at 881-5042.