On Wednesday, April 12, Carry The Love, a ministry team that tours the country worshiping with students on college campuses, stopped at AU for a night of veneration and prayer in Reardon lobby. Kirstin Crawford, a junior studying psychology and youth leadership and development, was one of many students who attended the event; however, she had to leave early on that particular night.
A week later, Carry The Love unexpectedly decided to return to campus to host one more event, this time in the Bottom of Decker, because they felt very intentionally called to do so. “I decided to go again,” said Crawford, at the time unaware of how the worship service would ultimately change her life forever, “and man, am I so thankful I did.”
Crawford’s story is one that too often goes untold. For as long as she can remember, Crawford has been driven by perfectionism and a gnawing desire to please others. “It was the environment in which I grew up, and so those habits have become a part of who I am, and I will say I am not proud of it,” Crawford commented.
Since beginning college, Crawford has dealt with severe anxiety and panic attacks and was urged by her friends and mentors to seek professional guidance from Counseling Services and Health Services, both of which have been instrumental in breaking down her unhealthy habits and thought processes. “There have been some really good days, and there have been some very dark days as well,” she said.
Crawford recalled that the two weeks leading up to the second Carry The Love event on April 19 were particularly difficult, and that she found herself in a near-constant state of anxiety. “That day specifically, the anxiety was almost to the point of more than I could take,” she remembered, “and I didn’t know how much longer I could continue like this.”
When she arrived at the worship night, Crawford recalls continuously begging God for just a little relief, all while reading over Romans 8. When one of the leaders of Carry The Love asked if anyone needed to experience God’s love, Crawford raised her hand and was immediately met by another staff member, who prayed over her life in such a way that felt incredibly relevant to what she was struggling with.
“The cool thing is that I didn’t share anything with her, and that’s how I knew it was God speaking through her,” Crawford said of that first experience, recalling that three additional Carry The Love staff members came and prayed with her sporadically throughout the rest of the night. “Over and over again, so much truth was proclaimed over my life that I really needed to hear,” she said. “Because they didn’t know anything what I have been going through, I am confident that their words were directly from the Lord. This gave me so much hope and assurance.”
Crawford said that she truly experienced a divine encounter with God that night, and that it was the reason that, when the leader asked if anyone felt a call to be baptized, she instantly knew that it was something she needed to do.
“Baptism is a symbol of new life, and I experienced it that night,” she said. “I by no means have it all worked out, and I know I still have a lot of work to do. I still experience the physical symptoms of anxiety, but the underlying feeling of hopelessness and depression was lifted.”
Even though she grew up in a Christian home and was baptized as a child, Crawford felt called that night to be baptized again as a symbolic representation of her new life in Christ. “That night was a very spur of the moment thing, but sometimes God works that way,” she said.
According to sophomore Alec Brown, who was instrumental in coordinating the Carry The Love events, the group of roughly 40 student participants, as well as the Carry The Love leaders, all walked over to Helios with the intent of orchestrating the baptism there. When they realized that the fountain had been drained, they continued all the way to the Kardatzke Wellness Center, where Crawford was ultimately baptized in the Natatorium pool.
Although Crawford said she didn’t know a good majority of the other students who were present at her baptism, she believes that they wanted to be a part of it because the Holy Spirit was so evident.
“There was a huge sense of love and support that night, as it should be in a body of believers,” she said. “I experienced so much freedom that night, and a sense of joy that had be gone for a while.”
“All year, lives have begun to be changed on campus,” said Brown. “The seeds have been planted and it was time for the harvest. These Carry The Love events have been total answers to prayer and a reminder of God’s faithfulness.”
According to their mission statement, “Carry The Love is not an organization. It is a statement. It is a pledge to live a lifestyle of selfless and sacrificial love.” For more information about Carry The Love, visit carrythelove.com.