Carry the Love returned to Stetson University for fellowship and worship on January 28th from 8-11 p.m. and January 29th from 7-10 p.m.
As a Catholic, this event was a little intimidating. I felt that although I am religious, I didn’t belong because my practice of religion is more traditional and conservative than most. When I entered Allen Hall, I was immediately welcomed with high fives and loud music. I anxiously waited for the event to start as I scoured the over-crowded room. The night kicked off with a welcome from the head of Carry the Love, Kiera, and a brief overview of Carry the Love–a grassroots movement to inspire change and love in the world. After this, we all said a quick prayer, and other Carry the Love members performed a variety of Christian songs.
My nerves settled as I read and attempted to follow the lyrics to the songs. One of the Carry the Love members came over to say a prayer over me, and I wondered if she noticed my hesitation and slight discomfort from the event. I decided to let my guard down and pray with her while I tried to listen to her voice through the singing that surrounded me. The music allowed me to let go and allow God to come into my life as I opened my heart and followed the music. In most Catholic masses, we do not get to enjoy singing these upbeat songs on drums and electric guitars. Instead, we are subjected to the occasional organ or grand piano. If they’re feeling snazzy, they just might add some windpipes to liven the mood.
The music, unfortunately, came to an end, as we transitioned with a sermon from Graham, another head from Carry the Love. He shared messages from the Bible and inspired many to stand up and project their faith to the entire room. Throughout his speech, he shared some memorable moments about love and faith.
“The most powerful form of love is choice,” said Graham.
I never knew what that meant until he shared a personal story about his relationship with his wife. When his wife revealed that she loved him, she said that she chose to love him. This inspired me to reflect on my life and who I’ve chosen to love. I hadn’t fully realized that each person I encounter is a choice. As simple and as obvious as it sounds, I never noticed that my religion was a choice because I grew up Catholic and attended Catholic schools. It has always been part of who I am, yet I didn’t understand that I had the choice to stray away if I wished.
Although I enjoyed Graham’s message, his speech felt a little repetitive and I started to lose interest until he provoked those to stand if they wanted to deepen their relationship with Jesus. I decided to stand, but I didn’t realize what I was getting into. I’m not one for recognition, especially from large groups of people, but once we stood, the entire room erupted into cheers, which made me feel even more on edge. I’m all about praising the Lord and speaking my faith, but this loud and energetic applause became a little overwhelming. Graham had all of us who stood up walk towards the front and face the entire room, which didn’t ease my nerves.
To my surprise, my stress was relieved once Graham asked all of the remaining people in the room to come and pray over us. I was instantly calmed with complete strangers taking the time to pray for my struggles and ease my pain.
The night finally ended with a 15-person baptism in the fountain at Palm Court. Graham preached to those who wanted to reclaim their relationship with God. I felt slightly pressured to become re-baptized, however, I am not allowed to get re-baptized according to the Catholic faith. Although I did not partake in this decision, it was a beautiful moment to see the joy and happiness in all that took the leap of faith and reclaimed their relationship with God.
Madison Reeves ‘21, one of the student’s who was baptized in the fountain, said, “I expected to just kind of make the same decisions that I’ve always made. For a long time, I’ve followed God, but it’s been hard for me to choose a path towards him. Seeing everyone here and Graham’s message was the most touching message I’ve ever received in the name of the Lord and I finally decided to take a path I can grow closer to God with.”
Before the event officially came to a close, Kiera returned to make an announcement that Carry the Love would have a small group for women at 5 p.m. on January 29th. I decided to take part in this act of faith because it seemed more personable and less hectic compared to the previous night.
One of the Carry the Love members, Kylie Tyler, is also a member of Circuit Riders. She shared some information with me about her journey as a messenger of the Lord during the small group.
“I’m part of a group called Circuit Riders. We are a missionary organization based out of Huntington Beach, California. Every Fall we rally together and we do a three-month school where we learn basically how to share the gospel and share Jesus through all our different skill sets like music, media, and messengers. In the spring from January to May we go on tour and travel the U.S. by going to different universities and high schools just sharing the message of Jesus and sharing the message of the gospel and just carrying the love.”
Before I left the small group, I received what Carry the Love calls “Brave Love.” This is essentially where two members of Carry the Love pray over a Stetson student and share what God is telling them about the person he created. This was a relaxing and eye-opening moment for me because I was able to express my faith in a calming setting.
Overall, this event allowed me to reflect on what my faith means to me. Yes, I grew up Catholic, but I’ve distanced myself from my faith throughout my college experience. By sharing my faith and what it means to me, I allowed myself to dive back into my personal relationship with Jesus. Although Carry the Love was a tad intense for my form of worship, I am thankful they came to campus to spread love and faith to others.