(Photo: Passion Conferences)
More than 40,000 university students inside the Georgia Dome stadium in Atlanta are trying to make an impact against human slavery, and after being nearly half way through the four-day Passion 2012 conference it’s hard to downplay the energized event.
Still, Passion founder Louie Giglio wanted those watching the event, which began Monday and ends Thursday, not to focus on the names of the top of the line Christian speakers, including Francis Chan, John Piper, and Beth Moore. Despite the conference opening to a set of worship songs that included dramatic stage lighting and pounding drums, Giglio insisted those in attendance were not at an “event.”
While clearly the worship music led by Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, Christy Nockels, and Kristian Stanfill is a highlight of the huge gathering, Giglio said there was one name even bigger.
“Passion is not an event. It’s not a concert. Passion is simply defined in one word better than any other word and that’s the word ‘Jesus,’” Giglio told the crowd and the audience on the livestream broadcast. “He is everything that we have come here for. In our hearts all the way to this moment He has been everything we’ve wanted.
“We came here for one name and one name alone, and that’s the name that raises the dead. That’s the name that brings us back to life again … that’s the name of hope for the whole nation for your city, your campus. That’s the name of Jesus.”
The Passion movement began in 1995 with a stirring in the heart of Giglio to see college students across the globe “awaken to the reality of a glorious God and Creator.” Passion gathers college students from campuses and churches around the world and across ministry and denominational lines.
On Monday evening, Giglio talked about the thought process for moving to the Georgia Dome.
“When we were running out of room during the last two years and said ‘Well, let’s just try the Dome,’ we were kind of thinking maybe we were half crazy. But apparently we weren’t totally crazy because apparently there’s a lot of people that love Jesus in America who want to come together and celebrate Him in a place like this,” said Giglio from the stage as the crowd ruled its approval.
In addition to focusing on Gospel messages, organizers at Passion 2012 want to raise $1 million to fight human trafficking, including slavery and the sex trade in the four days of the conference.
“This year at Passion 2012, we want to bring this darkness into the light. We long to wrap our arms around those who are hurting and help bring an end to modern day slavery in the name of Jesus. Together, we will lend our voice to the 27 million who have no voice and do everything we can to fight for freedom,” organizers said.
Passion leaders say the funds raised will go toward several organizations they are partnering with.
“Over the next four days, students will learn more about ‘Do Something Now’ and focus their efforts toward the injustice of slavery that still plagues over 27 million people in the world,” Passion spokesperson Brittany Thoms told The Christian Post. “They will funnel resources toward six causes that provide prevention, rescue and restoration from circumstances such as forced labor, child labor, and sex trafficking.”
Those in attendance at Passion also viewed an original short film, titled "Freedom: Indifference Is Not an Option."
Giglio told the young students that if Passion was a conference for adults, his expectations would be lower because adults have largely “settled into happyville.” But the reason they set a high goal for the Do Something Now campaign is because the younger generation consists of people who won’t stand by and do nothing, he noted.
“In fact, we will engage, we will step up and we will raise our voice and we will be a part of seeing history change,” Giglio said.
Passion is not a time where attendees can sit comfortably and drop a simple $10 donation in their campaign against modern day slavery, Giglio pointed out. “This is reality. This is the lives of people today,” he stressed, urging attendees to join the fight not just during Passion, but “until light comes [to] darkness.”
"We've got to ... meet this darkness not with timidity but with all the guts that we got."