Pause around 0:57-0:58…check out the dude in the checkered flannel.
“Indescribable” is the word that I refer to when people ask me to describe Passion Conference 2012. The two words clash I know. Even though over 3 months has passed, bits and pieces of the conference still are realized, circulated, processed, and digested. Initially the months leading up to Passion Conference as well as the first worship session were met with cynicism. The source of my excitement was because it was THE Passion Conference..If anything the one thing that I could glean from the first night was that Passion seemed to be a conference that was all about glam with a “feel good” message. I assumed that most people were on the same boat as me: we came because of the big name bands or to take from the most influential speakers of our generation an idea that could spiritually sustain us temporarily. I wanted nothing more than to see or feel who God was.
However as the conference carried on, the cynicism that had dismembered my “Passion experience” became something more…the conference became where I had experienced one of the most blatant notions that God was indeed alive and moving within us. Despite how young and lacking we were as college students, when you take part in a movement of 45,000 individuals it becomes something surreal. No matter how many times I see the video I embedded I continue to get goosebumps as I think about the ways that God had proved Himself.
The story goes that one of the Atlanta Dome event staffs had carefully watched our conduct throughout the worship sessions and the conference itself. She said that she had seen nothing like it from a group of young students: a sense of calm and eternal joy. She had told one of the volunteers with Passion Conference that she had no idea who this Jesus Christ was or what cause we had gathered for but she definitely could feel, “something moving in the midst of us.” People might view this story as a stretch that who knew what the even staff was feeling? Maybe it had been her emotional response to sheer wonder at how vast our numbers were. I cautiously agree that we indeed don’t know what the event staff was feeling/experiencing but if you were to ask me I would say it was Jesus Christ who had touched her heart. Sounds far-fetched? The story continues that she became saved on the final night of the conference…a woman who didn’t even have the slightest clue of what Christianity was or who Jesus Christ was even though she laid her eyes upon 45,000 individuals gathered to lift His holy name had found salvation after 32 years. That story was so of God. He is indeed alive and moving.
Another story goes that a wealthy atheist couple had tagged along with one of their Christian friends because they knew of John Piper and had always been skeptic of his viewpoints on different aspects of theology. Essentially the atheist couple had come to hear Piper out, to disprove his ideology, and to further distance themselves from the Truth. A scary idea until I heard that the couple had done something that they couldn’t explain. Throughout the course of Passion 2012, our goal was to raise $1 million dollars to allocate towards the freedom, prevention, and rehabilitation of sex trafficking. The final worship session we discovered that 45,000 shabby, broke college students already in debt had raised around $2.5 million dollars. After seeing this act by a generation of heterogeneous Christian believers living for a homogeneous purpose: to proclaim and further His kingdom the atheist couple felt compelled to donate. They donated $500,000 to bring the grand total of Passion Conference 2012 to a little over $3 million dollars. No the atheist couple didn’t find God through our monetary generosity nor were they saved after their donation and the conference’s aftermath. However I discovered that the atheist couple had left the conference with a Holy Bible in hand…progress? I think so.
By no means am I trying to say that Passion Conference was merely a large event that amazed me by the participant’s sheer numbers. Nor am I trying to illustrate that the two stories I depicted above were the only things that I had gleaned from the conference. Rather I share these two stories because often times (for me at least), even though I am a believer it is so difficult to feel that God is working. Passion was a solid reminder that yes our Savior is alive. Sometimes it’s nice to be reassured in concrete stories or ideas that give us a glimmer that everything we believe in, despite how contradicting or confusing it may sound, makes sense in the grand scheme of things.
So if you haven’t done so, I would like to encourage you all to experience Passion Conference at least once in your lifetime as a student, a graduate, an event staff, or maybe even as a worship leader/speaker. My involvement with Passion Conference is an ongoing one as I am headed back to the Atlanta Dome in 2013. Whomever I share this experience with I hope and pray that once we enter the dome, it’ll be an encasement of a God who is alive and eagerly waiting to show you His splendor and capabilities.
Passion Conference 2013 “Tear down the curtain”