CLICK HERE to see photo gallery of Niagara 2019
By Rick Kern
Mike Chorey is a good guy to know… Not because his 30-plus years in youth ministry have leveraged an inspiring roster of connections with some of the Kingdom’s most anointed and influential figures. Or because he’s answered the cry for reality of myriads of young believers, helping them press into the love of God and mature from born-again babes to spiritual warriors. Nor is it because he’s led countless young people to the foot of the cross and watched with tears as they surrendered their lives to Christ… And it’s not due to his biblical insight and corresponding sermons revealing God’s heart in a way that doesn’t just leave you challenged — but changed…
Mike is a good guy to know because he walks in the powers of the world to come with a rare loving intimacy and has dedicated his life to shine the light of hope in the darkest corners of this generation. Because he goes all out to be all in, pays serious dues to live out a godly faithfulness characterized by spiritual grit, humility, and a passion for reality. And while he has a distinct, mountain-moving faith in God, Mike is a good guy to know mostly because of the faith God has in him.
The Good News has covered and written about Mike’s ministries in the past, but we wanted to give you the opportunity to get to know Mike himself a little better. That being said, we had a candid conversation with him, as he took the opportunity to bare his soul and share his insight with us. It is our prayer that you are inspired to press on to the high call of God in Christ Jesus for your life, by the unclad soul of this extraordinary man of God.
The Good News: You wear a lot of hats; can you give us a thumbnail of your responsibilities?
Mike Chorey: I serve as pastor of Cross River Church on Grand Island. As a pastor, we have our weekly services. I do everything from the preaching and teaching to personal counseling, visitation, and overseeing the whole ministry of the church I also serve as director of Joshua Revolution — I lead that team with a high school and junior high ministry. We have a weekly radio show, work with students on the high school campus, and hold the annual Niagara Youth Conference. Every other year, usually, we take groups to Israel for tours of the Holy Land. I have a really good team. It’s a busy schedule but also, we take time for family and we don’t overdo it — it’s just a team effort.
The Good News: How did you get into youth work?
Mike Chorey: I started as a physical education teacher, way back in 1985. I had a teaching degree and I just loved coaching baseball and football for quite a few years. Through that, God gave me a burden not to just teach young people athletics, but to teach them about a relationship with Jesus. Spiritually, I felt that God had called me to do some evangelism work and I started back in 1987 — I’ve been doing it ever since.
The Good News: What do you think is one of the most significant things that God is doing in our youth today?
Mike Chorey: I think that today, for youth to live for Jesus, you’re going to have to be all in. It can’t just be halfway because the culture is so strong the other way — you have to really stand up and make a decision on who you’re going to follow. The greatest thing that I see happening, is that there is a strong remnant of young people that have a vision for being all in. They’re walking the narrow road because they see so many are not going in the way of Christ but are going in the way of the culture of the world. The youth need a lot of prayer because they’re up against a lot of negative and evil things.
The Good News: “Evil” is a strong word, what do you think is the greatest danger among today’s youth?
Mike Chorey: I think the biggest danger is biblical illiteracy. It seems that more and more young people are not studying and reading their Bible. We’ve become very attracted to being entertained, and what happens is you become spiritually compromised without the strong foundation of the Word. They’re being bombarded with the secular world’s ideas that would be opposed to Christianity. If they don’t know their Bibles, they can easily be drawn into that type of thinking.
The Good News: What were the highlights at Niagara ‘19?
Mike Chorey: The most incredible thing at the conference were the altar calls. Every night, the altar was filled with young people who were making decisions for Jesus. There were many tears that were shed, kids were confronted with truth and they came to that altar, responding to the messages. I would say that was the greatest highlight.
Some of the individual stories were incredible too. My son, Matthew, he’s 23-years old and has only spoken a couple of words his entire life. He has a rare disorder called glutaric acidemia, GA1 they call it for short. It’s basically damaged the basal ganglia of his brain, where he cannot control his muscle movements. He’s in a wheelchair and has never been able to speak. His intellect is unhindered, so he’s very aware, but his muscle movements, he’s not able to control them. On the 29th of December, God opened his mouth and he said one word three times in a row. It shocked his grandparents. He said the word, “Hallelujah!” and then he said it again and then he said it a third time. The word, “hallelujah” became kind of like the theme of the event and kids were shouting it and after Matthew spoke and they heard that, they were so excited to know that he had said that. So, that was just a miracle. It was really an incredible thing; I still haven’t gotten over it.
A young man came up to me with tears rolling down his cheeks, asking for prayer because he was struggling with a sex addiction. He heard the message on purity, and he wanted to get right with God. I was able to pray with him and give him some materials to teach him how to walk in victory over sin.
We also had a young boy with his father, he came up to the altar, we were taking an offering and that day was his birthday. His father told me that someone had given him $20 for his birthday — it was a lot of money for this little guy! When we were taking the offering the last night of the conference, he turned to his dad and said, “I want to give my $20 to help this conference.” He walked it up to the altar with his father and put it in the offering bucket. I was just amazed that he would give his birthday money for the work of God.
Then there was a young girl who came to the conference. She had been contemplating moving forward to have a sex change from a girl to a boy. On the opening night she realized that she was making a big mistake. She came forward and committed herself to not go forward anymore with any procedures that would change her gender. This young girl was there for the whole event and was completely changed — she could not wait to come next year. Here’s a person who was really struggling with who she was but found that God had made her wonderfully and perfectly and she wasn’t going to change that. That alone was an incredible highlight. We’re following up with her now and she’s been coming to church every week and we’re helping her to learn the Bible.
The Good News: What were your objectives for the Conference and were they met?
Mike Chorey: Most importantly, we wanted to present participants with three main messages. Number One: We wanted to present the Gospel and give every student and every adult, the opportunity to receive Christ. Number Two: We wanted to present to them the message of sexual purity. Number Three: We wanted them to know the power of the Holy Spirit, and to pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit. All of that was done and experienced at Niagara ’19.
A fourth objective was that we wanted to train them how to share their faith, so every student received their training in youth evangelism and how to explain the Gospel. All of that was done very effectively by our speakers. Pam Stenzel and Bill Wiese did an amazing job, as did Bob Cornell. We also showed the film, “Woodlawn” and after watching the film that night, many students received Christ as their Savior. They heard the Gospel from Caleb Castille, who was the lead actor in the film and we also had Hank Irwin, who God actually used to start that Woodlawn revival back in 1973. Hank is now 70-years old and spoke on being all in for Jesus. There were so many kids that responded to Hank, not only making Jesus their Savior, but their everything. Every objective, every plan that we had for Niagara was blessed and accomplished. We were all very thankful.
The Good News: What’s the plan for next year?
Mike Chorey: We already have our theme, so our theme for 2020 is “Perfect Vision,” taken from Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” We just see that in a lot of things today — both in the world and in the church, people have lost their vision. We believe that God wants to restore that vision for this generation — that insight to who God is, who Jesus is, and what He did on the cross, that they will have that vision to bring the message of the cross to their school, to their family, to their world. So, we’re really planning around that theme of “Perfect Vision.”
The Good News: What would you say that you have learned from young people over the years?
Mike Chorey: They’re challenging and honest, and what I’ve learned from them is they appreciate honesty and transparency and being real. Also, they want the truth and they want it without compromise. Niagara ’19 was a very strong event with every speaker giving a powerful message. We had a message on hell, we had messages on sexual purity, we had messages that were challenging them to make Jesus Lord and to be all in for God — and they responded to them. They responded to them in a way that was just incredible. There’s this lie that we have to become more worldly or relatable, and we have to do more things to entertain the kids to connect with them. We’ve learned the opposite. The stronger the message, the stronger the response. The best thing I learned from the youth was, don’t water it down, give it to them the way it is in the Bible — straight up!
The Good News: What is the best advice you ever received?
Mike Chorey: That’s a good question. It’s so simple: just don’t quit. If you won’t quit, God won’t quit. No matter how hard it gets, no matter how impossible it looks, never quit, never give up. Just keep on going, keep on plowing through it. God will bring you through. There’s been some hard times doing ministry and many times I wanted to quit. When I was working for Youth for Christ, it got so hard financially, all the employees left the ministry — I was the only one left. The last employee who left, encouraged me to leave as well. I didn’t know what to do, so I prayed, and God spoke to me and He said, “It’s not over until I say it’s over.” That really was what kept me going. God brought us out of those financial problems, and He turned the ministry around. But I think the biggest thing that you learn is that it’s not over until God says it’s over. Don’t give up, just keep on going. Through faith in Him, He will turn it around.
The Good News: Do you have any advice for youth workers?
Mike Chorey: I would say to the youth workers, stay the course, don’t change with the culture. Just keep the message consistent, it’s all about the cross. Teach your young people about the Holy Spirit and make your ministry deeply rooted in learning the Bible, bathing everything in prayer. Just don’t do anything that you haven’t prayed about. What I’ve learned over the years is that prayer is the key to how God works. If they’ll go to the altar for their kids and they’ll go to the altar for their youth ministry, God will touch it, God will move. The other thing is, don’t look at numbers. It doesn’t matter how big in size your youth ministry is, it just matters how big God is moving in the individual lives.
The Good News: Give me one verse that describes today’s youth.
Mike Chorey: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). In Proverbs 29:18 it tells us that if you don’t have a vision for God and a vision for your life… that word, “perish,” means that you are going to be “unrestrained.” I think the reason the youth are getting into so many problems is because they have no vision. That really is the key explaining that they are a generation without a clear vision for their life. They don’t have a clear vision of who Jesus is.
The Good News: What’s in the future for Mike Chorey?
Mike Chorey: One day at a time. I believe we’re the generation that’s going to see the rapture of the church. I’m just eager and excited to preach the gospel and to warn people what’s coming and to really believe that we are going to be taken off this earth. That’s not only my future, but the future of everyone who believes in Jesus Christ. We’re not going to go through the Great Tribulation, we’re not going to be here for the Battle of Armageddon because of the cross. He said in His Word that He has not appointed His children to wrath. I’m expecting very soon for Christ to come to take His bride away. I think that is the next thing to happen. I’m sure that it’s going to happen very soon.
CLICK HERE to see photo gallery of Niagara 2019
To learn more about Joshua Revolution visit at http://joshuarevolution.org/