It doesn’t make sense for revival to break out when a man is struck by a motor car. But that’s what happened in East London last year when US ministry student Carlos Padilla was knocked down by a car. He led the accident car driver to the Lord right there on the road where he lay with a broken leg. And God used him in many more salvations, healings and miracles during his time in hospital. We reported the story Last April, interviewing some of the people involved — but we did not get to speak to Carlos himself who had by then returned to the US. Back home he has shared the story on many ministry platforms and it has been prophesied that a million people will come to the Lord through the accident-to-revival testimony. Recently, during a visit to Redding, California, I finally met Carlos and we had rather an interesting conversation. Here is an edited version of our chat.
Gateway News: Tell me a little about yourself.
Carlos: My name is Carlos Padilla I’m 34 years old, originally from Texas. Last year I was on a missions trip to East London and Cape Town South Africa. Unfortunately I never got to make Cape Town. I am a second year student at BSSM [Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry]. I came [to BSSM], not to be convinced whether I am powerful or not but to get know the One who trusts me with that power despite who I used to be,
Here at Bethel I’ve learnt what it’s like to steward the supernatural love languages that God gives us in the form of gifts — and how to give people that representation everywhere you go — to be a walking gospel. My heart is just built around people experiencing the tangible love of God — not just a hypothetical one that’s based on a character named Jesus who lived 2000 years ago but a character who’s alive today — more alive than this conversation.
So, my mission in life is to tell people about the good news that He’s alive and that the gospel is not just for salvation but for transformation.
Gateway News: I believe you grew up in a Catholic culture?
Carlos: I grew up on the west side of San Antonio Texas which is a predominantly Mexican culture. I grew up in a Catholic family and went to Catholic elementary school, Catholic high school and Catholic university and I really didn’t know any other form of Christianity other than Catholic because I was surrounded by people who were Catholic.
I went through baptism and all the sacraments but was never told that I could have a relationship — it was just a checklist of to-dos.
I just thought literally this relationship — this thing about Jesus — was something you thought about on your death bed. So I just left it for until I was 85 or 90 or whatever that looks like.
So I lived like that. I wasn’t a terrible person — there was a lot of good in me. I made a lot of mistakes, had some addictions and stuff and I just thought I would repent on the last day and go to Heaven, you know, and just skip the religious nominality that was going through society.
I dropped into church a couple of times just to be with my mom and to be there and sing the songs and go through the sacraments, the rituals — which is amazing. I think there’s a lot of prize in that — but it wasn’t interesting. It wasn’t a light to me and I didn’t expect it to be either
Gateway News: You purchased a restaurant at a young age. How was that?
Carlos: In about 2009 I purchased this restaurant in San Antonio Texas. I was about 27 or 28. And after a year of being in a restaurant without any experience, having just made a blind leap of faith opening a restaurant, it became difficult really fast.
You know, I didn’t know how to manage people. I didn’t know how to manage finances. I didn’t know how to talk to people. I didn’t know how to do anything.
A year later I found myself the oldest 29 year-older in the world. I was at work in this restaurant — trying endlessly to make it work, But it was just exhausting and I would work 16 hours a day seven days a week. Literally every relationship I had had diminished — my parents, my friends — because I was so introspective and so worried about my business making it. I lost life all around and I couldn’t produce life in that season.
I remember my first two years, I was pretty exhausted, and I was just sitting there and I had no friendships or other interests. I remember my brother telling me — it was a Sunday — that I should take a break. I told my brother I wouldn’t go back to the restaurant that day but I went back just around midnight — just to make sure that everything was closed. I was the only one in there — all the chairs were put up on the tables — and I remember just sitting exhausted, looking at the ceiling of my restaurant in the diner booth and saying: “Yeah God I remember reading somewhere that if I was tired and weary You would give me rest.”
Nothing magical happened that night but I went home the next day and continued on the same path. And I just learned to let go a little, you know the peace of God worked in me every day.
And just to fast-forward a year later the business was booming, people who worked for me were happier, people were coming in because there was so much joy in the restaurant. And it dawned on me that God had heard my cry for help — not this huge angelic encounter, but Him saying: “I never left you.”
I started going back to Catholic church more often, going on retreats which was pretty amazing. One day a friend comes in and says: “Why dont you go to church with me?” — I said: “Ok”.
It was a non denominational church — with a band and bearded preacher which all appealed to me. I had never seen anything like it — that you could worship Jesus like that — so I started going there. I was on the worship team for a while. And after three to four years I was called into pastoring. I did that but I still woke up discouraged after that journey.
Gateway News: How were you called into pastoring?
Carlos: A friend who was planting church asked if I could help based on my experience of building a restaurant. I agreed and he made me the young adult pastor.
I didn’t really read the Bible — and when I did get opportunity to preach it was just like a TED talk with some scripture. I did my best with what I knew.
After about 2 and a half years I just got discouraged because the God I preached about wasn’t real to me. Like the more I talked about miracles, the more discouraged I became. And I left Christianity for three days.
I remember preaching on a Sunday with three services — a message about the tremendous power of God and how He wanted to show people how much He loved them by doing miracles and He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. But it felt like I was lying to people as I didn’t experience anything like what I was preaching. I remember one day saying : “God if this is all there is to it, it’s just another belief system.” I was crying out — tired of it all.
Then one of my friends said: “Why don’t you come to my church?” — I said: “No, I’m done with church. I’ve done it. Five meetings a week, six hours a day.”
Gateway News: Had you given up the restaurant by that time?
Carlos: No, I was still running the restaurant but more in a managing capacity. I saw more of what the local church looked like in my restaurant than I did in the local church — at least as far as family and communion and stuff.
I remember saying: “O God I don’t want to be a Christian any more.” I didn’t answer calls from my pastor. I didn’t tell him I’d quit, but I just felt I couldn’t go on.
Then a friend called and invited me to church and I said: “No, I am done with church.” But I finally went and on January 17 2016 I go to this little church in San Antonio with about 70 people called Kingdom Life Church. Joachim Evans [former director of the Bethel healing rooms, and pastor of new Bethel church plant in Austin, Texas] was there. (Our church by then had 800 people, and was very relevant and people there loved Jesus but nobody had revelation of how much God loved them).
So I walked into the little church — the worship was kind of kooky — man I was over church! — and then he [Joachim Evans] says God wants to heal people and somebody here has had muscular dystrophy for 25 years. And a man walks up to the front — he was a baseball coach I knew when I was small and he was a dad of a friend and I knew of his illness and he couldn’t participate in a lot of activities as a coach because of his hand.
And they pray for him [the coach] and he gets totally healed and I just sat there and cried. I got offended. I was encouraged. I didn’t know how to handle the emotion. But I knew it was Jesus drawing a line in the sand, saying: “You know I am real.”
I quit my church and started serving there. I got discipled by a friend there. I was seeing crazy miracles a week and a half later. The first little girl I prayed for at my restaurant — her deaf ears opened. She was 5-years-old. It shook my life forever and I’ve never stopped since then.
I saw countless miracles in my restaurant. One that really put identity on the map for me was my friend Frankie, a young kid who worked for me — he was popular in the community — with tattoos everywhere. One night he comes in and has hurt his ankle and he really loves to work and he’s mad because he can’t work. And I say: “Let me pray for you and he says: “No man!”
And I say: “What’s the worst that can happen to you? You get healed and you can make some money today.”
So he says: “Ok but in the back where nobody can see.”
I prayed for him and he was healed and starts crying and he says: “What is this?” — And I say: “This is Jesus. I’m not trying to preach to you or get you to join my church. I just want you to know He’s alive and He loves you.”
So he works the whole day and makes more money than ever. Next Sunday, instead of coming in an hour late because he’s hung over, he comes in an hour early because he went to Catholic church. It’s crazy how just experiencing God’s love draws a line in the sand for you.
Gateway News: So later that year you enrolled at BSSM?
Carlos: I didnt get an audible voice about going to school but I knew I wanted to talk about Jesus for the rest of my life. And I felt the restaurant was for a season. It was time to let it go and really put my money where my mouth was. I gave away my business to my partner. [He also gave away his car and his apartment].
Gateway News: It was by then a valuable business. Why did you give it away and not sell it?
Carlos: I was reading 2nd Kings where Elijah puts the mantle on Elisha and the fist thing Elisha does he goes and slaughters his cattle and burns his plough. Like he says: “If I am going to follow you I can’t have a plan B — anything familiar.” — I felt the same — I didn’t want to have money to fall back on. I didn’t want to have something to run back to.
I said: “God I’m all in man. And that’s one of the main things in my life I needed to do — to trust Him financially.
I said: “God I don’t want anything else. Like I see you open this girl’s deaf ears the first time I prayed for somebody and you can provide for me.”
Gateway News: And what have you learnt from going all out for God?
Carlos: Every day I think about my friends who love Jesus but they live just as discouraged as non-believers. They are a product of their circumstances and not of what Jesus did. That breaks me. And that’s the cry of my heart.
The evangelistic call is definitely on my life. I love meeting the prostitutes, the gamblers, the addicts. But God gave me revelation after the accident [the car accident in East London last April]. He said: “You know Carlos, if you go out on the streets and minister to my people you’ll see 170 000 people saved and I’ll support that and I’ll rejoice with you and you wouldn’t miss the mark.
“But if you really love them, would you go to my Church, show my identity, sonship, — equip them and 170 million will get found. Would you love them that much? Even if you never go out on the streets again?”
So God put a treasure in my heart for the western local church — about the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. So that’s where I’m called. And I love everyone on the way.
I got lots of church invites after the testimony [the accident-to-revival testimony]. Often when I was introduced it was announced as a healing service. But God made it clear: “I’m not giving you a healing ministry; I’m giving you a “loving people” ministry. So that’s been the big thing in my life — just keeping the main thing the main thing and loving people.
Gateway News: Are you fired up all the time? Or do you have off days?
Carlos: Yeah man, I’m fired up every day. It’s not my fault. He’s in me and He wants to get out. I don’t see how you can take days off. I don’t see how you can get burned out when you’re just filled with His love. It’s not me trying to do things. It’s Him working through me. I become actually more hungry every day
Gateway News: You are writing a book?
Carlos: I started writing a book which was birthed out of the testimony of the accident. When I was hit I wasn’t in trauma. I just lay there and heard a voice in my spirit like a big roar — I felt the word “roar”.
So I am writing a book called Roar — Walking in God’s power without apology.
I got the first prophetic message in my life from my dad when I was four, even though I didn’t know what the prophetic was until about two years ago. The story’s in the first chapter of my book — the chapter’s called Dont take off your cape.
When I was little I always wanted to be superman and every day I would wear the pyjamas with the red cape. I dressed as superman everywhere and would fly off furniture and save my stuffed animals before bedtime and fight these villains.
I then started pre-kindergarten at a little Catholic school. And we had to wear a uniform which was a problem because I already had a uniform. My parents thought it was cute, so I would put on school uniform over my pyjamas and cape.
On the second or third day of school I got called into the office and had no idea what was going on. And my dad, who was working hard to put more distance between us and the street, was also summoned to the principal’s office. It was a big deal for him to be away from work.
My dad arrived and asked me to go outside and I heard him going off at the principal and after five minutes he storms out. I remember I was sitting on the bench — my feet are dangling , I have superman shoes too, and my dad’s teary-eyed and he kneels down so his eyes are level with mine and he says: “I don’t care what anyone tells you, you never take off your cape — you never quit being a superhero.”
I just kind of archived that with other stuff. But when I read the Bible in John 14 and 16 [I see] Hes’ given us the Holy Spirit. That’s our cape. That was the first and most powerful prophetic word I’ve ever received in my life. And its about being naturally supernatural.
Gateway News: Where do you see yourself going in the future?
I have said “Yes” to the call to equip His church. I don’t yet know what it will look like — but that is God’s job. My job is to serve the person opposite me and give them the best manifest image of Jesus I can. And I think if I continue to do that it will put me where God is, because seeking first the Kingdom of God is actually loving His people because for God so loved the world He gave his son — He said go and make disciples of nations. It’s always about people and if you pour your heart on people I think it’s hard to miss the mark of where God’s calling you — and sometimes it puts you in front of a car.
I always look at that scripture that says He is the desire of all nations. That means the only reason all these other ideologies, philosophies and religions exist is because we fail to manifest what their hearts are crying out for. Like we give them an option for something else. And that’s my heart cry for ministries, equipping saints for the good work — the good work of manifesting Jesus.
This is not a self-help gospel, its a transformation gospel. I’m not a Christrian for a better life but to be like Jesus. I think that’s [a better life] a byproduct of living like Jesus. But you can get that from self-help books and other ideologies. I know a lot of Muslim people who are amazing people but they wont have everlasting life and they cant heal the sick and raise the dead.
Gateway News: How do you equip people to manifest Jesus?
Carlos: The first thing is to deny yourself. The prerequisite of the gospel is to deny yourself — just to pick up your cross and follow Him.
One thing I’ve learned on my journey is the revelation of dying to yourself — of putting off the old and putting on the new. That has substance — its not just some metaphorical thing. I don’t read the Bible as a wishlist. I read it as an inheritance. Its power reminds me of what my place was in the garden before Adam sinned.
Now everything is available because I have a Father. I always equate it like this: If you are a son you have accessibility and authority — like when I go to my parents’ house I can help myself to anything in the fridge and put my feet on the couch. But there would be a problem if the mailman behaved like that.
I was previously taught in church it’s more humble to wait at the door, telling God I don’t really deserve to be in there. But then we cheapen the sacrifice of Jesus because He wants us in there enjoying everything He paid for.
Gateway News: Do you see yourself coming to South Africa again?
Carlos: I would love to. There’s huge redemption there. I was told recently in a prophetic word maybe I should go to Cape Town. I asked why and was told because maybe the devil didn’t want me to get there. I had never thought of it like that because I tend to think God is in charge.
God didn’t send the car but it happened. I’m not there to have a comfortable experience. I’m there to manifest Jesus when the car does come. Your revelation of sonship will determine how you act when things get hot. He didn’t remove Goliath in the Old Testament. He just wanted someone with identity to show up.
I think there’s a huge redemptive thing in SA and I would love to be a part of it and a lot of my heart cries out for it. But, to be honest, sometimes I ask God to send me to South Africa — to where there are more miracles and there are people who are sincere and hungry and they want Jesus.
Ten seconds before I got hit by the car I prayed for a guy with a calloused eye and his eye opened up. And the miracles were amazing. But when I ask for it God says: “You’re just running from your obligation here. Because every time you see a miracle in South Africa it’s going to remind you of your unbelief of why it can’t happen here.”
So I think I’m called to the United States but I think it does involve South Africa because of what happened and the redemptive process of how God can use something terrible for something amazing.
At the end, I just want to say “Yes” to whatever He has no matter what it looks like. Availability is my spiritual gift. If God wants to use me as a prophet for two minutes I am there. If He wants to use me for healing — I am there. I may not be a prophet but I’m available. I may not be an evangelist but I am there and I carry the presence of the living God.