Carry the Love is a national grassroots ministry that seeks to “…reach the lost generation and to activate a generation to love and evangelism” by holding multi-day outreach events on college campuses. A little over a week ago (February 15-16), Carry the Love held one of these gatherings on Gordon’s campus. The Gordon Review editorial team does not have an official stance on CTL. However, we realize the event the other week has been the subject of much discussion and controversy. This article is one of three posted (read here and here) centered around the opinions and experiences of those who attended. Our hope is for these pieces to serve as a launchpad for healthy and productive conversation. May we not only seek to understand each other better, but also cultivate a deeper love for Christ and the things He has for us.
I marked my calendar intending to go to Carry the Love a whole month prior to the event. No one explained the controversy surrounding it. Friends just either looked at me with disgust and told me not to go, or they would make fun of me for wanting to attend. I just wanted to go to a worship night. However, throughout the three days before the event, I felt a strong conviction to attend. It was more important to me to obey the Holy Spirit than people’s words.
As for my overall experience, I still cannot wrap my head around it.
The entire time I was there, I kept asking the Holy Spirit to convict me to leave if anything was wrong. Before entering, they had you scan a QR code and fill out a form with questions asking if you had heard about their organization, would like to be part of something similar, or would like to contribute by giving money. The essential section of the form asked if you had received Christ as your Savior or wanted to know more about being a Christian. You were also able to write your phone number in the form so they could send you more information if you wanted. I did not see anyone I knew, so I stayed silently in the back. I also wanted to observe and make sure nothing was off.
I eventually saw some friends, but after 5-10 minutes they walked out before anything started– no one was forced to stay. We prayed before starting and sang worship songs for the first hour. I could see people were hesitant to worship at the beginning, but eventually, they let go of that hesitation, as did I. Then, CTL played a video explaining the organization and its mission. One of the representatives, Nick, started delivering a message. He shared multiple testimonies of God moving in people’s lives while he was part of the team. Then, he began preaching the Gospel (how and what it means to get saved) before moving on to discuss the details and imagery of the cross.
He ended by asking people if they wanted to be saved. He also asked if there were people who were far from God but wanted to run back to Him. We bowed our heads and closed our eyes before raising our hands. I was in the back and peeked; I did not have time to count because I was praying, but there were more than twenty hands raised. This is the point that caused some confusion. Because Nick asked both questions back to back, those who wanted to be saved and those who wanted to recommit were put in the same category. Although this may have conflated the number of people reported “saved” during the event, I was still happy that people wanted to find God.
For those who wanted to, Nick invited them to repeat a confession of sins and ask Jesus to become Lord of their life. Then we jumped into worship and I felt God’s presence so, so strong! I began to worship more boldly than ever before. I had never raised my hands while worshiping before, nor had I ever teared up while feeling such strong joy, peace, and freedom. It felt like a revival. I have never felt God, or the Holy Spirit move so strongly within me.
This is when I lost focus on what was going on around me— when my experience really became my own. I am not sure if it was Nick, but someone started talking and asking if anyone wanted prayer for healing or deliverance. Immediately, I felt a heaviness come over me. I fell to my knees and began to sob and weep. I am still blown away as I type this. I have never cried like that. I usually never cry because of how hard it has been to do so. But I was in that corner, shaking, sobbing, and weeping so hard. People immediately started praying and laying their hands over me, and I just cried even harder— I could not control it.
Internally, I was so exhausted from carrying so much on my own. I was afraid to bring my burdens to God because they did not seem that severe when compared to those of others. For context, I have never prayed for healing over my illness. Ever since my diagnosis, I was told to take care of it because it was mine. If I did not, I would die. But at that moment, the Holy Spirit just asked me: why have you taken this illness as your own when it was never yours? This is what made me fall down. It was the thing I never really prayed for.
As I was on the floor, people prayed for my deliverance. I had never fully told anyone about the struggles that followed me: eating disorders, body dysmorphia, self-hate, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, insecurity, identity confusion, homosexual thoughts, lust, trauma, wanting control over my life, my illness, anger, bitterness, hate, confusion, regret, etc. All of these thoughts kept resurfacing and it was insanely painful. My heart was being broken like never before— but I felt God rebuilding it at the same time. I just kept telling God to take it, to take everything. I was sorry for ever keeping these things hidden from Him. I later realized it was necessary to resurface all the pain and struggle in order for Jesus to begin the healing process.
After I calmed down, one of the girls from the CTL team, Leah, guided me through a prayer where I rebuked Satan in Jesus’ name— he no longer had authority over my life or mind. Then, she guided me through another prayer where I surrendered my struggles to God. I felt so light and peaceful, like never before. I cannot even describe it. However, while this was happening, I did not witness the healings that others supposedly experienced. I can only speak for myself.
Before ending, Nick asked if there was anyone who wanted to get baptized. A few people raised their hands. Then he spent some time explaining what baptism is, what it represents, and asked people to consider if they were sure they wanted to do it. At the end of the event, we walked to Gull Pond and several people were baptized.
On the second day of CTL, the team offered tips on how to share the Gospel. They taught us the five-finger method, where the main points of the Gospel are summarized on one hand. Afterwards, we split into groups and walked around campus to pray for anyone who wanted prayer. My friend said his group approached people more forcefully, but mine did not. If someone said no, we’d wish them a good night and leave.
For the final meeting, the guys and girls met separately. I do not know what the guys talked about, but my group heard the story of a missionary who sneaked Bibles into concentration camps during the Holocaust. From here, one of the CTL representatives, Autumn, spoke about brave love and how to follow God’s call despite danger and fear. All of this ultimately tied back to the story of Deborah in the Bible. Finally, we ended by asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us who we were created to be.
This is just my experience— I cannot speak on others’ behalf. Yes, God used this event to meet me, and yes, he definitely used the CTL team. However, my experience had nothing to do with them but everything with the posture I took toward the work of the Lord. I can assure you nothing was forced or manipulated on me.
Although my day-to-day life looks much the same, I have been overflowing with unexplainable joy and peace since that first night of CTL. God delivered me from so much. For sure God used this event to change me. I am now much more sensitive to the voice of the Holy Spirit in my life and cannot help but be amazed at what God did with me that first night of Carry the Love.
Categories: Student Life