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Teens Seek Holy Spirit During DC03

Last night the youth service audience of thousands was encouraged to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Oklahoman youth evangelist and church planter, Herbert Cooper.

The standing-O was 54 seconds long. In ovation years that’s equivalent to five and a half years. In teen years, even longer. But time was not of the essence. The 13,000 plus teens and sponsors were just saying thanks in a spontaneous, but sincere way to God for being Him.

The demonstration was just one of many that exposed the intent of those gathered: They were here to worship. But the night held more than offerings – many would leave having received one of the greatest gifts they had ever been offered.

"The kids are right there with the speakers," says Jim Wellborn, Assemblies of God World Missions AIM liaison. "They’re so responsive and no end to their energy and zeal."

That was evident as the teens worshiped with Jeff Deyo. And once again, the focus was on Jesus and not on fleeting emotions or impulses. Hundreds, if not thousands, rushed to the altar area where they worshiped when the band struck its first notes. For more than 30 minutes they pumped their fists, jumped to the beat and extended their arms in praise while singing along.

Shortly afterwards, a personalized video message from President George W. Bush was played on gigantic television screens. Bush thanked the teens for coming to Washington, D.C. As he spoke, hundreds of flashes from cameras went off throughout the hall.

Thomas E. Trask, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, took the stage next. He too thanked the teens and told them how proud he was of them and their commitment to Christ and their desire to fulfill the Great Commission. Portions of the service were broadcast live to the MCI Center where the General Council’s evening service was being held.

"We are thrilled with what is going on over here," Trask said. "The church of today is sitting before me and Jesus is going to continue to use you."

His words could not have been truer. Already this week 1,000 AIMers, have been sharing Christ’s message of love and hope by setting up a Convoy of Hope site in Anacostia Park and distributing groceries to many homes in the inner city.

"The kids have come prepared and ready," says Mark McGrath, national global ministries director for the national youth department. "With AIM, teens get a chance to serve others. When they get a taste of that, they want to keep on doing it. They’re making a difference in this city and by doing so their lives are being impacted."

Thousands of other teens are honing artistic gifts by participating in the Fine Arts Festival. Many more have come to DC03 open to what God can do in their lives. Whatever the reason for being in D.C. the evening youth services provide them with the opportunity to move closer to God.

On Thursday night teens were challenged to do something radical for God. Last night they were encouraged to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit by Oklahoman youth evangelist and church planter, Herbert Cooper.

"I don’t care who you are, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is for you!" he yelled. His words were immediately met by cheers.

Cooper, a former college football player, is an imposing yet convincing figure that has mastered the art of disarming people with humor and breaking down complex subjects so that they are understandable and desirable.

"Realize it’s a free gift," he said. "When it comes to the baptism of the Holy Spirit you can’t work it up, you can’t emotionalize it. The Bible says it’s a free gift that you receive. You can’t earn it."

Teens by the thousands worship intensely during Friday evening's service in the Washington Convention Center.

When the altar call was given some of the teens rushed down the aisles toward the altars, others walked slowly, contemplatively. Within minutes the altar area was teeming with teens. Hundreds were speaking in tongues as youth leaders and workers bobbed and weaved through the throng praying.

"God baptize these young people with the Holy Ghost," Cooper pleaded. "Fill them, fill them, Lord."

Many of those who remained in their seats knelt at their seats or stretched their hands toward the altar area and prayed for their friends. Teens have a way of coming together and looking out for each other.

Earlier in the service, during perhaps one of the most touching moments of the evening, Tom Greene, national youth director, announced that one of the teens attending the youth conference was seriously injured in a fall. He asked the audience to pray and believe for a miracle on behalf of the 17-year-old. Teens cried out to God for the teen’s healing for several minutes.

As the service neared its end, Cooper asked that everyone gather with those around them and pray that God would fill everyone with the power of the Holy Spirit. When the service was dismissed thousands of teens lingered in small groups or by themselves praying.

Just inside the entrance to the hall stands a towering replica of the Washington Monument. From a distance in the darkened hall the monument looks like a beacon — much like the way many of these teens will look when they return to their communities when DC03 is nothing more than a memory.