The conference was sponsored by OCI and The Ramp, a ministry focused primarily on youth.
Karen Wheaton, founder and senior leader of The Ramp, said the 2 1/2 day conference was incredible.
“We believe a lot of kids’ lives were changed. We know they were eternally impacted. A lot of young people gave their lives to the Lord,” Wheaton said. “We have people who were delivered from cutting, from suicidal thoughts, depression and just things that young people at that age are dealing with.”
The Ramp is based out of Hamilton, Ala., where its school of ministry is dedicated, “to awaken, equip and send a generation to change the world.” Conferences are held at the campus on a monthly basis.
Wheaton said the facilities can only hold 1,100 people. One large conference is held at the end of the year within facilities large enough for the crowds averaging 3,000 to 6,000 people.
According to Wheaton, there were no empty seats during the recent conference. Adults took to the furniture while youth sat on the floor. She said there are on average 23 states represented at each conference.
People in attendance came from Cleveland and other parts of Tennessee, the Southeast and beyond.
Each conference is focused on ushering young people into the presence of God. It is hoped each attendee will experience an “awakening.”
“... It is awakening to the reality of God, and that you can have an ongoing relationship with him,” Wheaton said. “Through that relationship you will discover your purpose for being on this Earth, and how to walk in that purpose to fulfill it.”
Seven services were conducted between the opening Sunday night to the New Year’s celebration. Some attendees stayed as late as 4 a.m. following the Tuesday service. This is part of the experience.
Wheaton said the events are meant to be a place of freedom for youth and adults alike. They are encouraged to worship however they would like.
This is not the first time The Ramp has been in Cleveland. The organization established itself for two years here prior to returning all of its focus to Hamilton. Wheaton said it was good to return.
“I’ve always loved Cleveland. When I was a little girl, I was raised Church of God of Prophecy, so we came every year for the General Assembly,” Wheaton said. “Cleveland, Tennessee, has always been a really special city for me. I’ve always loved the city and the people.”
She said she hopes The Ramp had a positive impact on the city.
“The city was welcoming to us and our people. I hope that the city was blessed by The Ramp being there,” Wheaton said. “I hope they were blessed in every way — spiritually, financially, in whatever way.”