Tent Revival and Concert Offer Spiritual Support, Fellowship

Singing with enthusiasm and harmony during Tuesday night's revival event are (left to right) Katie Chambers, Carol Carroll, G.W. Carroll, and Johnny Chambers. The revivals will run through Friday evening in Memorial Park with a concert in Triangle Park planned for Saturday. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

 

The impact of the narcotic epidemic on the extended community of the St. Croix Valley is constantly felt by residents that have experienced addiction personally or watched family or friends succumb to it. While there is no single remedy that will work in all cases, some who have recovered have done so with the help of spiritual guidance. It is with that mindset that a tent revival specifically intended for those who are struggling with addiction or other forms of emotional turmoil is being held this week in Calais. 

The event, which began on Monday and will run through Friday, September 15th, in Memorial Park, features Florida evangelist G.W. Carroll and his wife, Carol. The musical duo was brought to this area in part through the efforts of Johnny Chambers of the Common Ground Church of God.

Chambers first met Carroll last year when they were both visiting East Machias to perform a guest service. On the way there, Chambers was reading a passage from scripture, Exodus 37:1-14. The passage involves a valley of dry bones that God breathes life into. “God says, ‘I will breathe life back into that valley’, and that’s what I think about the St. Croix Valley,” said Chambers. “I get really emotional about it because people I went to school with are dying from drug overdoses. I love Calais. This is where I have been for four generations. This is where I’m choosing to raise my family.”

After arriving at East Machias but before he began performing the service, Chambers was stopped by Carroll, who expressed that he wanted to share something with him. He quoted the exact same scripture about the valley of dry bones that Chambers had just finished reading, prompting the beginning of a connection that would result in this week’s event. 

“To be honest with you, tent revivals aren’t my cup of tea,” Chambers said. “But I believe in the message that Brother Carroll is saying about breathing people to life. It’s like our mission of loving people to life. Loving people to life is messy, it’s loving them with all their garbage, all their faults, everything. It’s messy, when you’re truly trying to love people.”

Carroll has been an evangelist preacher for 43 years. Over Christmas, Carroll received the message that he was meant to go out as a missionary, leading him to resign from his position as senior pastor at a church in Florida and to travel north to reach out to communities in need of spiritual support. 

“Our heart is reaching lives, reaching people,” Carroll said. “There are a lot of hurting people in the world right now. Our nation is not the prettiest of pictures right now with people. There’s all kinds of factions pulling every direction. I’m one of those folks that believe that God is still the answer.”

Carroll and his wife chose to come to New England specifically because of the number of “unchurched” people – meaning people that don’t attend church. According to Carroll, the most “unchurched state” in the country is Vermont, followed by New York and then Maine. “We’re seeing a lot of miracles. People that have great needs having their lives turned around, whether it’s addictions, or people that want to commit suicide, people that are cutters – we’ve watched them come to Christ. If we can make a difference in one life, I think that’s a good thing.”

The Carrolls are continuing their efforts despite their home in Florida being directly in the path of Hurricane Irma. “You can replace things, but you can’t replace loved ones,” said Carol Carroll. “All of our kids and family are safe.” The mission to spread spiritual guidance takes precedence for the couple. “We’ve heard that there’s a lot of heroin in this place. We’ve seen God completely set people free. That’s what we're here for.”

All are welcome to attend the tent revivals which will occur nightly from 6:30 until 9:00 p.m. On Saturday, there will be a group of local musicians performing in Triangle Park as part of Worship on the Green. That event will run from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.