Over 23,000 college students are expecting a change in their lives at the Passion 07 conference. But this year's four-day event is asking for more than a personal change. It's asking for a global change.
"We came here to make a difference in the lives of the people that Jesus loves the most," Passion founder Louie Giglio told the student crowd on Tuesday, "and those are the least and the last of these on this planet. And every one of them matters to him."
The Do Something Now campaign launched at Passion 07 on New Year's Day creating a tangible way for college students to meet the needs of people around the world, including the local community in Atlanta, Ga., where Passion is currently staged at.
The global initiative provides students with eight different opportunities to "change the world," mainly through monetary gifts and commitments. Some of the campaign projects include providing wells for clean water in Africa in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS; providing a college education for African students; building a community center to reach the Kurdish people of Northern Iraq; providing surgery for children in South and Central America; and providing the first-ever translation of the New Testament for the Dela people of Indonesia.
According to Giglio, there are about 2,000 people groups on the planet who do not have a Bible in their native language. In partnership with The Seed Company, Passion 07 is promoting "OneVerse" where around $20 sponsors a verse to be translated for the Dela people.
While people in Indonesia anticipate having the Word of God in their language, Passion speaker Francis Chan from Semi Valley, Calif., expressed fear over students lacking the love that the Dela people or other people groups may have for the Bible.
"Do you love God's Word?" he asked as he held up a Bible.
Chan addressed an excited audience that was reminiscent of the loud crowd of Lakers fans he was surrounded by three years ago at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif., except this time, the cheers were directed in worship to God rather than a basketball making it inside a "cylinder."
"My concern is that sometimes our Bibles can sit on our shelves and we're not really hungry for the Word of God," Chan said Tuesday night.
"Do we love this (the Bible) or is it the way a person teaches it?" he asked, alluding to such Passion speakers as John Piper, Beth Moore and Giglio.
"You got to learn to just love to be alone with the words of God ... That's when you'll hear the calling of God in your life," Chan exhorted.
This year's student conference drew students from 49 states, 32 countries and 1,165 campuses to Atlanta's Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center for the first time. The live audience was also joined by some 4,500 people from around the world who watched Passion's first session on New Year's Day through delayed streams online.