I'm finally taking the time to write out my Passion experience. It was a whirlwind of a week and only a few memories are still vivid to me.
Last year, in April, I went to my first Passion conference in Fort Worth, TX (I blogged about it here). There were between 10-12 thousand students attending the conference. To me, that is a huge number. An amazing number.
Well, 10 thousand is nothing.
This year, at Passion '12 in Atlanta, GA, there were over 44,000 students in attendance. How amazing is that? I was in awe of the sight of it all.
Passion is never a disappointment (although, I will say, I did enjoy my first experience more). I came away from the experience with fresh ideas for After Your Heart, and was even more excited for 2012 than I was before. God has amazing, amazing things in store for this year.
Anyways, back to Passion, Francis Chan (like last year) was the highlight of Passion for me. No matter what he is speaking about, he is so passionate about it. You can truly see that he wants us to know and love God with our entire hearts. He is an inspiration (and I can't wait to actually start reading Crazy Love! Can't believe I haven't read it yet).
John Piper was another speaker, and like last year, I was blown away, and left scratching my head wondering what I'd just heard. Piper is so incredibly smart, I have trouble keeping up with him!
I was really excited to hear Beth Moore speak. My mom had heard her speak a few times and loves her, so I was excited. Although she's great, I felt like she was speaking to the wrong audience. In my mind, Beth Moore should be speaking to women between the ages of 30 and 50. Not college students. I did love her though.
I think the part of Passion that appealed to me most was the awareness that was raised for human trafficking and slavery that still exists today. (the photo above is a huge structure created as a symbol of hope for those trapped in slavery. It was constructed out of items that are typically made by those that work in sweatshops/mills/whatever and is created by slaves... everyone who donated money took an item and wrote a message or prayer on it and then it was put on the hand. On the last night of Passion, 40,000+ students stood in the frigid weather surrounding the hand, and at midnight, candles were lit and the students prayed for those who are slaves).
Did you know that there are 27 million slaves in the world right now? That's more than any other time in history! I hate that this issue seems to be swept under the rug sometimes. It's hard to get people to take notice of the people that can't speak for themselves; the people that are trapped in slavery.
But the best thing about college students is that they can become very easily passionate about something.
The attendees at Passion were able to donate $100,000 to the city of Atlanta to help fund/train/etc. a new Special Victims Unit specifically for sex trafficking and slavery in Atlanta, GA. How amazing is that?
Then... together, 44,000+ college students raised $2.5 million. Two and half million dollars of their own money.
And then a couple that came as adult leaders were so moved by the dedication of poor college kids that they donated $500,000, making the total money raised $3 million.
three million dollars.
Passion is a great experience. An extremely emotional one, as well.
I really can't explain my experience at all. You really just have to experience it yourself.
I loved every second.