The day after we got back from New York I drove back to Johnson City, and then just a few days after that I was in Atlanta with almost 45,000 other people for Passion 2012. In case you aren't familiar with Passion, it's a conference for college students (and their leaders-that's why I was there). There are amazing speakers, Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, John Piper, and Beth Moore to name a few, and incredible bands and worship leaders, like Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Charlie Hall, Hillsong United, and David Crowder Band.
|DC*B after their last performance as a band.|
|Charlie Hall (and a large Miller Lite).|
The Main Sessions with worship and speakers are one of the main aspects of the conference, but the other huge part of the conference is Do Something Now. Every year at Passion they raise money for a variety of worldwide needs such as clean water, food, livestock, health care, human trafficking etc. This year, however, everything was focused on human trafficking. And until a few months ago, I knew very little about human trafficking, which really is saying it too nicely, it's slavery. Human trafficking is when someone is held against their will, usually for the purposes of commercial sex, labor, or warfare. And there are currently an estimated 27 MILLION people - men, women, boys, and girls- in slavery today; that's more slaves than any other point in history. And slavery isn't just an overseas issue, it's happening in America too. In fact, Atlanta is one of the cities with the highest rate of human trafficking. 5,000 girls are coerced into the commercial sex trade every year. So Passion set a goal of raising 1 million dollars to give to a variety of organizations to help fight human trafficking. 1 million dollars, from "poor college students?" Well, after a day and a half 1.2 million had been given! One of the specific causes was to fund the training and implementation of a task force in Atlanta to help educate young people about trafficking and prosecute those responsible. And at one of the afternoon Main Sessions we presented the mayor of Atlanta with a check for $100,000 to make that task force possible! And on the last day Louie announced that we had given a little over 2.5 million dollars AND that a couple who had been at conference had been so impressed by what the students had given that they wrote a check for $500,000! So, in four days 3.5 MILLION dollars was given to help END human trafficking! And this isn't money that was pledged - it was given. Cash was given, checks were written, credit cards were swiped. It happened. God moved and students responded and 3.5 MILLION DOLLARS was given! And to go along with everything, Passion created an interactive art project. A huge sculpture of a hand was assembled, and if you gave towards the causes you got to be a part of it. The whole huge thing was made up of lots of panels and pieces, many of which were covered in materials that are made by forced labor - clothes, shoes, plush toys, rubber items. The final product was amazing, and on the final night of the conference there was a candlelight service. All 45,000 of us assembled around the sculpture. But with 45,000 people that meant we were still pretty spread out. Close to midnight we lit our candles, and it was neat to stand up on a bench and look out as far as you can see and see lit candles. And then right at midnight the hand sculpture was lit; I literally gasped when I saw it! And the sculpture is going to stay in Atlanta to serve as a reminder that that we are standing up for the powerless and are doing our best to end modern day slavery!
|With the flags we got to write on to add to the hand.|
And click here to see a news report that CNN did while we were there!