Holy Spirit Fills and Empowers Hundreds of New Jersey Youth
Something remarkable happened during the New Jersey Ministry Network’s (NJMN) 2023 summer youth camp as hundreds of students experienced the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit.
Almost 500 Gen Z students gathered at the Spruce Lake Retreat Center in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, on July 17-21.
Andy Lynn, 38, NJNM’s NextGen and Youth Alive director, says the camp opened on shaky ground. Behavioral issues had riled the students. There were disagreements and fighting. And some considered quitting or faced expulsion. Lynn rallied his staff in desperate prayer for a Holy Spirit breakthrough.
Their prayers touched heaven.
After dinner on Wednesday, July 19, middle and high school students and youth pastors from 30 AG churches strolled into the Lakeview Program Center’s gym for evening service.
But even before the service opened, a cohort of teens had already lingered by the platform, praying longer than expected. God was setting the stage for something unusual.
After a short worship time, Don James, network superintendent, welcomed everyone.
“I told the students I felt the Holy Spirit telling me this was not going to be just another youth camp night, but a historic one that would be remembered for generations to come,” James, 72, recalls.
During the worship time, guest speaker Jermel Mayo, AG USA evangelist and staff evangelist at Marlton AG in New Jersey, felt a stirring to change the direction of his prepared sermon. Obeying God and gathering his thoughts, he asked the worship team to play one more song softly before he spoke.
“Guys and girls, I believe God wants to move tonight by his Spirit,” he explained. “Your generation needs to see evidence of a miracle-working God.”
When the altar call came, hordes rushed to the front.
“I felt a strange sensation,” Lynn remembers, “like a holy wind sweeping through the room. About 100 students began speaking in tongues.”
Spontaneously, they started singing “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God almighty,” over and over. Many cried out, repenting with tears pouring down their faces.
Vibrant praise, repentance, students praying for each other, testimonies, and gifts of the Holy Spirit continued for three hours.
Dave Czarnik, youth director at Kingsway Church in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, was overwhelmed by Kingsway’s 50 students pressing into to Jesus with urgent prayer.
“The presence of the lord was so thick,” he says.
He hugged and held fast a six and a half-foot basketball player who was speaking in tongues.
Czarnik, 31, who had been seeking the Baptism for 15 years, was richly rewarded. James embraced Czarnik, coaching and praying for him, and saying, “OK Dave, this is your moment.”
Within a short time, Czarnik let out a few syllables that glided into a heavenly language for more than 30 minutes.
Kingsway youth remain walking in the Spirit. They are recharged and openly sharing the gospel with their families and classmates. Students are also hearing God’s voice in their prayer lives for the first time. They are testifying about calls into ministry and deliverance from various addictions.
Other AG church youth groups report similar inspiring stories. A young woman recently contacted testified, thankful for her camp experience.
“I was called by God and healed of my anger and rage,” she says.
“The Holy Spirit fell mightily on our group (four high schoolers and 13 middle schoolers) attending the July camp,” observes Justus Portman, 27, youth pastor of Bethany Church in Wyckoff, New Jersey. “Our kids returned back to church on fire for Christ and have inspired the entire congregation.”
Portman says they have stopped listening to certain types of music and have parted ways with certain groups of friends. They have also found a new boldness to share their faith with strangers.
Don James is more than hopeful about the next generation’s spiritual impact.
“There continues to be an afterglow of the Holy Spirit reverberating throughout our New Jersey youth groups and churches,” he asserts.