Youth pray at the end of the first plenary session at the Lake Union Youth Evangelism Congress. Photo credit: Samuel Girven

February 20, 2022

Always Unstoppable: Lake Union Youth Evangelism Congress Day 1

There’s nothing quite like the Lake Union Youth Evangelism Congress. It’s a powerful event, something nobody else has done. It’s an experiment that has brought forth amazing results.

Youth travel from all ends of the Lake Union to participate in this evangelism thinktank. They’ve come together for more than just networking—they’ve come to find out how they can become inspired and trained to be “Unstoppable” for Christ.

The first day, Friday, is only the beginning of a weekend teeming with potent stories and ideas. Registration and dinner are forgotten preliminaries. The evening session is the highlight of the day. This year, the Lake Union Youth Department invited Jose Cortes Jr., Associate Director of the North American Division Ministerial Association, to be the featured speaker this weekend. His messages are focused and clear. Tonight, his focus was how the “seed” evangelism “plants” must start—above all—with love.

“If you are going to be unstoppable, the most important thing to remember is that God loves you.” In return, “If you are going to be unstoppable, you have to love people,” Cortes said during his message. We must be willing to allow God to use us, no matter our condition, to minister to others, no matter their condition. “Not once does the Bible say anything about Jesus’ clothes…not once does Jesus say anything about music.”

And we’ve only just begun.

This is an interactive congress, and what followed the message is where the true ethos of the event shines: “Table Talks.” It’s simple: after a short presentation from someone detailing what their ministry has done in their community, and the results they’ve seen from it, each table has a discussion. What inspired them the most about the idea? How could they get involved?

A community lifestyle center in Illinois was first on the list of presentations, which also included evangelism on a secular campus in Indiana, and mental health matters. One person remarked during a discussion, “Usually, you think you need so much to make a big change. But even with the minority, you can cause huge change.” Each example shown during the “Table Talks” demonstrated to the participants that even a small ministry can make a huge impact in people’s lives.

An especially impactful presentation was on mental health issues. Keila Carmona, a dean at Andrews University, passionately told her experiences of ministering through cultivating relationships. “When Jesus in Matthew 28 said ‘Go and make disciples’, he was saying, ‘don’t just show them a God who can save them from their sins’. That’s a big deal, but also, pull them into relationships and show them a God who can save them from the despair of their trauma; who can save them from the despair of their abuse; who can save them from the despair of all the hurt that they’ve been through! In relationships, God is saying, show them me!”

After the evening plenary, participants were welcomed to an afterglow event. Networking is an important part of this event, and the event organizers give everyone multiple opportunities to meet and get to know each other better. People traveled from long distances for this event, and many are glad to relax and meet other likeminded people.

Participants discuss the day during the afterglow event. Photo Credit: Samuel Girven
Participants discuss the day during the afterglow event. Photo Credit: Samuel Girven

Ron Whitehead, director for the Lake Union Youth ministries, explained that “the goal of the first night is that we’re hoping the delegates, through the music, message, testimonies, are connecting to what this whole event is about,[which is] where they’re going to get their get their creativity and innovation. That is through the influence of the Holy Spirit, and with conversation with their peers.”

He continued, “It should be a special night to slow down, release everything back home…and get in tune with God, at this beautiful retreat center, and listen to God. Then, ask yourself, what am I picking up here that’s going to help me be a kingdom builder, and be Unstoppable?”


Samuel Girven, Cadillac Church’s assistant Communication secretary, blogs for the Lake Union Communication department. You can read earlier blogposts on the GYC conference here: GYC Day 1, GYC Day 2, and GYC Day 3.