NIAGARA FALLS -- A spiritual revival of youth will soon take place in Niagara Falls -- again.
"Joshua Revolution's Niagara 2007 The Exodus: Let My People Go," formerly known as the Niagara Youth Convention, will return to the city this year after it left the community six years ago.
Those familiar with the reappearance of the religious experience, first reported in The Buffalo News last weekend, couldn't be more pleased.
"I think, number one, it's going to excite a lot of churches and youth groups who have come to love the event," said Mike Chorey, executive director of Joshua Revolution and pastor of Crossriver Church in the Falls. "There were a lot of families that were affected when we moved out of Niagara Falls. It was just a disappointment."
Erik Kinyon, 25, grew up in East Amherst and currently lives in Syracuse. He remembers both attending and volunteering for the event in Niagara Falls. He said it was beneficial for Christian youths and helped them navigate difficult times.
"Being a Christian isn't always easy," Kinyon said. "We have the same struggle, the same battles everyone else has. It's just that we have the assurance of the Lord. I went through a period in my high school where I had a ton of friends, but because of my choice to be a Christian, I lost a lot of friends."
Since the beginning of the Christian youth conference in 1993, more than 80,000 young people have attended in various locations.
In previous years, the event was held in Alabama, Florida and Buffalo. The last event, the Field of Miracles, ran over three days late last summer in Frontier Stadium in Rochester. That event attracted 17,000 people.
This year's event will be held Dec. 27 to 30 in Conference Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St.
Registration begins April 1, and at that point the organization will have a listing of the speakers for the event.
For more information, call Joshua Revolution at 285-0840 or visit the group's Web site at www.joshuarevolution.org.
The theme, "Exodus: Let My People Go," represents the organization's attempt to encourage youths to embrace the healing power of Jesus and receive deliverance from sins, Chorey said.
"It's really teaching young people from the book of Exodus about how God delivered the people from bondage," he said. "How does that relate to young people? There are many things that keep them in bondage in their lives, alcohol and impurity. So it's really going to be teaching them the message of the cross through the book of Exodus."
After that message is delivered, Chorey said, youths will be motivated to deliver the message to others in need.
"We're going to train them and really motivate them to take the message of deliverance to the lost world in their high schools, their neighborhoods and their families," he said. " 'Let my people go' is a cry that people will be set free from every sin, every bondage."
Maggie Elliott, 21, of Hamburg, said she remembers the convention serving as a turning point in her life.
When she was 18, her father and stepmother forced her to attend the convention because she had a problem with alcohol.
"I didn't want to go. I didn't want to go at all. I was a very hardened and miserable teenager," she recalled. "The only way I could find fun and happiness was being drunk and partying at the bar."
Elliott attended the convention in Buffalo at HSBC Arena. At the time, she was also facing troubles with a crisis pregnancy, her vehicle was confiscated, and she was facing a DWI charge, she said.
"When I got [to the convention] I really didn't stay in the arena part for a while," she said, "but finally my dad came and found me and said, 'You need to get in there and watch this with us,' " she said. "I went in, and I was completely touched. My life has never been the same since."
At past Christian youth conventions in Niagara Falls, youths left the convention and walked to the falls to pray. They will make a similar prayer walk this year, as well.
"I think it's going to have a dramatic affect on the community," said Chorey, "so we really see signs of change in the community, both spiritually and morally.
"Our hope is not just once a year, but we're hoping that this is a beginning of a revival for young people."