For those who just so happened to drive by the Georgia Dome during Passion 2012 at the start of the New Year, initially the sight didn’t look too out of the ordinary. The 40,000 people walking around the Georgia Dome at night could have easily passed as Falcons fans, excited about the night’s game. But instead, this gathering was different: it was Passion 2012, where more than 40,000 students between the ages of 18 and 25 came to sing, worship, donate and pray in the name of Jesus. Among those tens of thousands of students, you could find the See.Spark.Go team hosting members of the press there to cover what these life-changing days in the heart of that significant “university moment” that has shaped so many of us.
The four-day gathering sold out the Georgia Dome at 42,000 collegiates, nearly double that of the 2011 gathering held at Philips Arena and the next-door Georgia World Congress Center. Lead worshippers such as Matt Redman, Chris Tomlin, Charlie Hall, Kristian Stanfill and Christy Nockels took the stage in music, while world-renowned Christian speakers Beth Moore, John Piper, Francis Chan and Passion founder and visionary Louie Giglio brought powerful messages to the Dome, inspiring attendees to live out their faith and also to “Do Something Now.”
This year’s event was dedicated to the cause of FREEDOM: freedom for the 27 million people around the world currently living in modern-day slavery. Passion’s goal was to raise $1 million for this cause, and the students of Passion far surpassed that goal, reaching a total of $3.3 million before the conference came to an end. The money will go to a variety of organizations that help victims of modern-day slavery find rescue and restoration and work to prevent human slavery all together.
A few of the chosen organizations are Tiny Hands International, A21 Campaign and Wellspring Living. The money donated to Tiny Hands International will build and fund eight border monitoring stations and eight safe homes in Nepal that will help intercept victims as they are being trafficked. Wellspring Living will use the money to renovate 12 apartment homes for survivors of sexual exploitation in Atlanta, Georgia. Finally, the A21 Campaign will fund a year-long prevention program that will reach 48,000 children who are at risk of being trafficked in Ukraine.
Louie Giglio said people had laughed at the thought of poor, Ramen noodle-eating college students donating their petty cash for this abstract cause. But as he announced the second morning that donations had already exceeded $1 million, I was particularly touched. I can admit, as can Louie, that people today have certain preconceived notions about my generation, the college students of today. Many believe we are self-centered and immature, only concerned with our cell phones and ourselves. But the college students at Passion 2012 proved that argument wrong. As this Atlanta news video agrees, “these are kids today.”
As you may guess, Passion 2012 attracted the attention of more than just the pedestrians on Northside Drive. In addition to the 11Alive coverage, and many other articles and blog posts, the CNN Freedom Project took notice and did an international segment regarding the event. Also, the Atlanta Journal Constitution was especially impressed by Passion’s $100,000 donation to the Atlanta Police Department’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection squad here. Overall, Passion 2012 did powerful things in the lives of countless college students and also in the lives of those all over the world…in the name of One powerful Savior of the world, Jesus. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for Passion 2013!