“Relevant.” “Put together well.” “Challenging.” Those were some of the ways teens described the 2009 Youth Unlimited Convention, held this year in Ridgecrest, N.C., in late July.
Nearly 700 teens gathered in the Appalachian mountains for five days to learn about “Living Inside Out.”
“What they called ‘living inside out’ was living for Christ and letting that show from the core of my being,” said Hannah VanBeek, 17, from Pella, Iowa. “That struck me. It’s like I’m totally flipped, and it’s all Christ.”
A third-time conventioneer, VanBeek said this summer’s convention “completely blew away all my expectations. . . . [I was] really sad on the last day when we had to leave.”
In addition to worship, sports, and other activities, conventioneers had many seminars to choose from.
This year the most popular seminar was led by Jarrod Jones, a 6-foot 7-inch former NCAA (college-level) basketball player. In his seminar titled “Backward Dating,” Jones urged teens to set godly standards in their dating lives, to be a “godly example and purity leader in relationships.”
This was Scott Staal’s first convention. The 17-year-old from Mokena, Ill., said Jones’ seminar stood out as his favorite.
“Basically, I saw how we should act as Christians and how to be pure—that was made clear,” said Staal. “I had some questions, and those questions were answered.”
Jones also led four Mainstage sessions—sessions that Brian Haak, 17, of Zeeland, Mich., enjoyed. “I got a lot out of what [Jarrod Jones] spoke about. I was challenged to take my beliefs and share with people around me. It was something I had to re-evaluate, and it was really cool and challenging.”
Haak had some good conversations with a friend who also came to the convention, he said. He plays drums and his friend plays guitar in their “garage-type” band. The convention inspired them to make their band “exclusively Christian”: “We might as well make the things we do glorify God,” said Haak.
Worship at the conference was led by Remedy Drive, an independent rock band from Lincoln, Nebr. The band played worship songs and songs from their most recent album.
Other speakers included Rob Roozeboom of RISE Ministries, and Jean Stevens, a former student ministry pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Ill.
Convention organizer Millie Hoekstra said more kids attended this year than last. “In this economy we are very thankful to have an increase instead of a decrease like many organizations are experiencing,” she said.