The Friend Request
It was a dark and windy Halloween. But the church was bright and bustling with activity. It was our annual Harvest Festival, and I was in charge, which is not uncommon. I was going to and fro making sure all the details were being executed efficiently. Kids carnival on one side of the sanctuary. Buffet and pie baking contest on the other side. Cake walk in the middle. And in a little while we would clear the center and have some Irish folk dancing lessons. It was an international theme, so everyone was encouraged to wear costumes that reflect an international flair.
I was at the buffet, and suddenly there was this man next to me with flaming red hair and a bright smile.
“Hello!” he bellowed with a chuckle. “Just in case you are wondering who that crazy man with the red hair is who sent you a friend request on Facebook earlier today, that’s me!”
My thought – CREEPY!
But what I said was something like, “Oh…really. That’s nice.”
“I’m Carl,” the redhead said, “It’s our first time here and I thought I would introduce myself. I came in my Scottish scarf for the international theme. It matches my hair.” I made some polite response. Then I slowly… backed… away. Through the rest of the evening I am pretty sure that Carl proceeded to introduce himself to every person in the room. You see, Carl Anderson is what one might call an extreme extrovert.
When I got home that night, sure enough, I had a friend request from Carl with a message saying he knows a few people from the church and he is looking forward to getting to know more. I toiled over my response. I didn’t want to offend him. But I have a few rules about Facebook. So I finally answered to the effect of, “It was nice to meet you at the festival. However, it takes me a little longer to get to know someone before I am friends with them on Facebook. I hope you understand.” Carl’s response was, “I guess I am a little different. I am friends with everyone!” And that’s the truth!
Fast forward to the present. Carl and his wife Sarah and three wonderful kids have been a part of my church for over 7 years. I consider them dear friends. After church recently, I said to Carl, “I would like to interview you for an article.” Carl got a big smile on his face, “For Time Magazine?” he said jokingly. “No, for my blog. Maybe like 50 people read it. But if I tag you on Facebook than maybe your 900 friends will see it!” “Actually, it’s closer to 4300 friends now,” he replied. That was no joke. One of those friends, of course, is me!
I admire Brother Carl, as we affectionately call him. Rev. Carl Wesley Anderson has a big personality, a big vision, a big heart . . . and I say this with true respect…a big mouth. He is not afraid to speak words that are challenging and bring you to another level of understanding and experiencing God. Always humorous, always dramatic, always passionate. He is the Braveheart of evangelists.
Our pastor recognizes Carl’s gifts as an evangelist and asks him to speak and teach on a variety of occasions at the church. The last time Brother Carl spoke at church, at the end he had the 4th, 5th, and 6th graders come to the front and pray for people who needed healing. The children had been learning about praying for people and practicing in their Sunday school class. Now they put it into full action. After church my 10-year-old said, “I really liked that.” He liked Carl’s presentation, especially an anecdote he shared about praying for someone’s butt. A 10-year-old boy can totally relate to that! But he also liked praying for people. He is my sensitive, caring child. He would not have been willing to pray for people on his own, but Carl inspired him to step out that day. I can see that my son has a gift in this area. He has a sensitive spirit. And it is so exciting to see him learn this at the age of 10!
That is Carl’s calling and his great passion – equipping people to work for God. Everyday people, all people, have gifts that God has placed in them to be used to help one another, encourage one another, love one another.
Carl is using his powerful gifts to impact people around the world through his ministry Born to Blaze. He has been invited to teach and equip Christians in over 20 different countries over the last 20+ years.
But all that came to a screaming stop about two years ago. Our extreme extrovert got an extreme blow – cancer. A rare cancer in the upper leg. The treatment involved painful shots every other week, resulting in flu-like symptoms for 5 days following. This aggressive treatment laid Carl out on his back, stopped the world travels, made the most social person I have ever met retreat to the safety of his home. Illness is miserable. Illness steals your joy and your strength. Joy and strength are two of the qualities about Carl that have always stood out to me. Joy and strength pretty much defined Carl for me before the cancer.
But Brother Carl has risen to the challenge. He has fought like a champ. I am sure that I am not privy to the low moments. I am sure there were discouraging moments. Jesus helps us in our low moments. And if there was an opportunity for Carl to practice what he preaches, it has been this fight against cancer. Brother Carl is an open book. He is open to letting God use whatever is in his life to help and inspire others.
Cinematography that Inspires
Carl has always loved the cinema. The drama. The message. The beauty. At the age of 15 his entrepreneurial spirit and creative mind combined to start a business of wedding videography. As a young adult he and his bride created Princess Bride Cinematographic Videography. It is wedding video on steroids. The videos they produce are cinema quality. I love to go to their website and watch the videos they have there. After watching a 5 minute video I feel like I know these couples! The videos are so well produced. Carl and Sarah have a gift. I wish I knew them when I was planning my wedding! Seriously, people, you need to watch! It is so much better than TLC.
Here is a little sample for you to enjoy. It is a 5 minute Short Film “Life is Beautiful”:
Recently, Princess Bride has begun to shift their focus in another area – Life Stories. These beautiful films combine interviews, photographs, music, and great story-telling to capture the life moments of people most dear to us. Parents, grandparents, couples, the possibilities are endless.
Here is a look at the Life Story of my sweet friend Ruby. It is just precious. You may have read my article called “The Fisherman” about Ruby’s husband Ted.
For a special treat, watch this Special Feature from Ruby called “What Color Hair Does Jesus Have?”
About 10 years ago, this lover of cinema was watching a documentary and “something clicked” he told me. “This is what God wants me to do.” Carl loves history, he loves story-telling. And through telling these historical stories of faith, he hopes to inspire people of this time to see that God could use them in the same way for their generation. The same anointing with a different expression.
In a recent trip to Ireland for evangelism, Carl began his first video project to this end. A documentary about the ways God has spoken to us through history and is still speaking. I cannot wait to be able to view it. Using his gifts, his passion, God is leading Carl in this new direction, in the midst of continuing cancer treatment. Cancer can’t keep this extreme extrovert, this passionate man of God, this gifted communicator and creative genius, from completing his heavenly assignment.
I asked Brother Carl if he has a life verse, a scripture that inspires and gives him vision for what he does. John 10:10 was the verse he quoted me where Jesus says, “I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full.” Then Carl gave me a little lesson in Greek. The Greek word for “life” is “zoe”. They actually named their little girl Zoe from this verse. This “zoe” life is not just the everyday, hum-drum life. It actually means “life as God knows it”, a “heaven-born life”. This zoe life is why Carl does what he does. His desire is that Jesus would use him to help others receive the zoe life that God offers. Whether preaching at his home church, or ministering across the world, whether creating a cinema of a life story, or filming historical and spiritual documentaries, Carl’s vision is to inspire others towards the life that Christ offers.
I am so thankful that Brother Carl and Sarah are part of my faithful village. I am sure I will share some thoughts on Sarah sometime as well! She is fabulous and inspiring all on her own! They are such a beautiful part of my life. And it all started with a cold Halloween night and a Facebook friend request.
Visit Brother Carl’s website and sign up for his monthly devotional email and receive Carl’s eBook “Encountering God in His Living Word” for free!
Sign up for my email list and receive a link to each new article and my eternal gratitude.
Since I am in a video-sharing mood, here is one more. Please excuse this shameless advertisement. The Hope Open Golf Tournament will be held September 17, 2016, to benefit Carl & Sarah Anderson and Born to Blaze Ministries. Calling all golfers! It’s a great event. Find registration and more information at http://www.myhopecommunity.org/golf/