Students ‘Carry the Love’ into their daily lives


Adelaide Mei

Students gather in the Fieldhouse for a night of worship and preaching by Carry the Love.

On Jan. 20, 2022, three young women — supporters and recruiters from Carry the Love — meet a crowd of Calvin students at the base of the Hoogenboom Gym’s stairs. In the dim orange light of the corridor, chatter accompanies the swish of phones as the attendees race to register for the event online. They near the gym doors, and the din falls away. Over the speakers, “I Surrender” by Hillsong Worship plays.

In collaboration with Calvin’s Campus Ministries, Calvin students involved in ministry training sought to create another on-campus opportunity for worship and discipleship. “Our goal was to support and empower students who were eager to energize the campus for missions and evangelism,” said Pastor Paul Ryan. By connecting with Met by Love leaders and supporters through the Ministry Leadership Cohort, the students formed a one-night event they called Carry the Love.

The service was led by Derek Mack, a familiar face to attendees of the Monday Met by Love worship nights, who works as an international speaker with the Circuit Riders, a “grassroots movement” focused on college students. “Normally when you go to [Christian worship events], it’s all fluffy Christianity and stuff,” said first-year student Katie Buist. “But this guy is like no, I’m going to challenge you in your faith.”

When Mack invited the students who felt “a calling on their lives” to come to the front, Buist, first-year student Myla Kar and their whole friend group rose to their feet. Pleas for peace and cries for boldness that would outlive the night’s event swelled with the music. Students knelt and danced to Hillsong United’s “Good Grace.” “Afterwards, I was jumping around,” Buist said.

Following the event, in a quiet corner in Johnny’s, she and her friends discussed topics ranging from life to vocation to Buist’s summer job in the fields of Washington. “[My work was] such an opportunity to pray for people,” she said, lamenting the missed opportunities and connections.

Allie Wagner, a member of the Ministry Leadership Cohort and a student organizer of the Carry the Love event, said, “We want to create space for people to encounter Jesus. For the campus to be transformed.”

For Kar and Buist, the event did just that. 

Many students felt inspired in their walk with Christ, [but others] felt pressured and uncomfortable with what they perceived as an overly emotional and marketed appeal

— Pastor Paul Ryan

But high-adrenaline worship nights like Carry the Love are not for everyone. The shouting and crying overwhelm some attendees and bar others from going. “Many students felt inspired in their walk with Christ,” Ryan said, but others “felt pressured and uncomfortable with what they perceived as an overly emotional and marketed appeal.”

At the end of the night, Carry the Love’s speakers traveled on to their next gig, and they left students to grapple with their experience. During an interview about the event, Kar and Buist reflected on the tensions of school routines and spiritual practices. “You kinda go back to your normal day stuff,” Kar said. “I really want to fight that.”

Kar and Buist plan to continue their Bible study, created in the wake of Carry the Love, once the midterm craziness dies down. They hope to recover the boldness they say they lost to the college-life grind and continue creating space to encounter Christ. Campus Ministries, too, Ryan said, wants to help combat the slumps and offer support for students in their spiritual walks.

They don’t expect to always speak perfectly, boldly or with great insight, but they refuse to stop seeking, said Kar and Buist. Worship nights pass and feelings fade, but for now these two students plan to continue to “carry the love.”