Searching through old blogs I cannot believe I have never written about our honeymoon trip to Newark, New Jersey. To begin, I would LOVE to hear from any of our New Jersey friends on their testimony is all of this.
I will try to give to short version of this testimony. We have shared this so many times over the years.
When we were getting ready to get married, the Hubs was invited to speak at a youth camp in New Jersey. He was invited by his friend Christian Castro who was an associate pastor at the Christian Community Presbyterian church in Newark.
Since it was around our wedding we decided to fly up a few days early and go to New York City for our honeymoon. I had been several times but the Hubs had not. We had a lovely visit. Then off to youth camp.
We are decidedly charismatic in our belief system. We pretty much believe everything in the Bible and we believe God is BIG! Our roots are Pentecostal. On the way to camp, the Hubs asked Christian’s wife Liz (who grew up in the going to the same church as the Hubs ) if there was anything we should avoid saying or talking about. She basically said the whole Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues thing was off limits. Out of respect for our friends and the under the authority of the house (the church) we committed to NOT bringing up speaking in tongues or being filled with the Holy Spirit. Except the Hubs had a message planned about plugging into the power source (basically, about being filled with the Spirit but not in those words).
The youth had a dynamic worship band called (if I recall) Contagious Truth. They were most definitely a worshiping group. The first few days were non-eventful. I was sick and stayed in our room trying to feel better and the Hubs was playing all the camp games with the students (I really do not remember what all he was doing during the day).
On Saturday night, we prayed before the service and prayer walked the little sanctuary. He went ahead and preach his “plugging in” message and opened the alter for anyone who wanted prayer. Three young ladies responded to the alter call.
One of those girls was Jessica. She was the keyboard player for the worship team. Only three girls wanted prayer so we were going to pray for them with everything we had. We prayed for Jessica first. Most of the time, I do not ask people what they want/need prayer for…I like to ask the Holy Spirit what He wants to pray for them. We were being safe so we asked. I do not remember what she said…maybe just asked us to pray that she would have “more”. We prayed and she fell down under the power of the Holy Spirit. I was touching her shoulder but the Hubs didn’t even touch her. This was NOT a “push someone down and say it was the Holy Spirit” situations (not that we have ever or will ever do that). She was out. We looked at each other and figured in that moment we were probably not going to be asked back so we should just go for it. We prayed for the next young lady, the same thing happened and the third young lady as well. Each one fell out under the power of the Holy Spirit. Then Jessica got up and she began going to people in their seats and laying hands on them and praying. The girl was on fire. She prayed for every member of the worship team. The worship team kept falling out and another student would take over playing their instrument. They never missed a beat. Jessica was so full of the Spirit, she was flinging the metal folding chairs out of the way. To be perfectly honest, even for Pentecostal circles, what began to happen was a little chaotic. It was an upper room experience (I believe the day of Pentecost was a little chaotic). The students were prophecying. They were praying for each other. They were speaking in tongues. There were also demonic manifestations that were taken care of.
We were sure that we were not going to be asked back.
The next day, the associate pastor who was much more in tune with the culture of the church sat the students down and walked them through Acts 2 and explained the Holy Spirit from the Bible. Christian is incredibly gracious in flowing in the Spirit and he explained it in a simple way.
We headed back to Newark. We still had not met Pastor Renato, the senior pastor of the church. At that time CCP had a Sunday evening Portuguese service. After dropping the students off at the church and getting some food, we headed back for the service. When we got there, we were greeted by one of the youth leaders. She told us that the students had not gone home but had gone to the prayer room. When pastor arrived for the service they grabbed him and began prophecying to him.
Yep, we were never going to be asked back.
The pastor came to greet us as the worship started and asked the Hubs to say a few words during the service.
The service was quiet full, a few hundred people were there and we did not sit in the student section. I could see them…the whole section was bouncing.
During worship, the pastor came back down and asked the Hubs to preach the message he had preached the last night of the camp. The Hubs had given his typed notes to one of the students who had expressed that he felt called to pastor. He had no notes.
As the service progressed, students were invited to say something about what happened at camp. Not one student said anything about speaking in tongues. Every one of the students who spoke testified of the great love Christ that they felt at the camp. It was beautiful.
Then the Hubs preached the message as best as he could remember it and pastor Renato translated into Portuguese. I laughed a little at the Hubs because I the pastor translated in such a passionate way that I thought he was a better preacher even though I didn’t understand him. After the message, the alter call was made. Forty or fifty people responded. This was more people than we could pray for so we asked if the students could help us pray for people. We thought they would come up behind them and pray in an orderly fashion but the students stormed the platform and began laying hands on people. Again, people began to fall out under the power of the Holy Spirit. They prayed for the pastors and they even fell out. Then they began going out into the aisles and the chairs and laying hands on people. It was out of control. (I kind of like when the Holy Spirit takes over and it’s out of control…anything can happen).
We were invited back a few months later for their family camp. The worship was dynamic. We were speaking to our friend Julio about it and he told us the worship had only become dynamic since we had visited a few month earlier. I was surprised. These folks were jamming with Jesus and really following the Holy Spirit. Wow, such a testimony to how the Holy Spirit can go in and teach people without anyone having to “explain” things.
Fast forward almost 8 years….We were invited to speak at the church’s annual Family Camp. We couldn’t wait to see the students from so many years ago.
There were many testimonies. One of the first people who came and talked to us was Jessica. Yes, the girl we prayed for who fell out and got up praying for everyone. She told me that while she was on the ground, God told her Africa and orphans. She said she banked on that word. She started preparing for missions. A year or so later, someone told her to brush up on her Portuguese for missions. She thought they were “off” because she was going to Africa NOT Brazil. Jessica ended up spending three months in Mozambique…in Africa. In Mozambique they speak Portuguese. Incredible! (Great reminder that even when a prophetic word doesn’t seem to “fit” doesn’t mean it’s wrong). She had the opportunity to translate for her team. I cannot wait to see what God has next for Jessica! I also got to pray for other of her family members…what a great family. I can see the hand of God on them.
Another young woman (who is incredibly anointed and passionate about God) told us that she was NOT at camp because at that time she was away from the Lord. She attended the Sunday evening service when the Hubs preached and she came back to the Lord that night and has been serving Him ever since. She and her husband ministered with us and they are powerful ministry.
We were told that of the group of students that attended the original camp that the Hubs preached at five of the students are in full time ministry. That makes me cry out in praise to God!
My deepest belief for this retreat is that it is the beginning of a move of God in the Newark REGION. God wants to move on the nations through a church in Newark, New Jersey.
None of this is about me or the Hubs. Our prayer has always been that God would use us however He sees fit…our heart’s desire is that we would simply be obedient to Him and never quench His Spirit.
There are more testimonies I would love to share (I have to get permission) but if anyone from the youth camp or family retreat would like to share their testimony, please post it in the comments or send it to me and I will post it for you. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!!!
May God continue to grow you all!