More than 23,000 college students from 32 countries rang in the New Year in Atlanta. They spent four days (January 1-4) participating in Passion '07 -- a conference designed to help students develop a deeper hunger for God and for missions.
"Part of the equation here at Passion '07 is to move to the place in our journey where we are living a life that is pleasing to the Lord," Passion Conference founder/director Louie Giglio told students. "The Kingdom of God is ever growing and we are here to celebrate that Kingdom. God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us to the Kingdom of his Son. This story is our story of rescue by Jesus. It's all about Jesus, the rescuing one. He's the one we're celebrating."
The idea behind Passion '07 is to motivate students to live for Christ. Giglio challenged students to spend their lives telling the nations about Christ.
"There is a massive world-wide after-party. It's called heaven," Giglio said. "The invitations are going out in every language, and those who have the story need to take the story to the nations -- to the 6,800 people groups that don't yet have the gospel. God is asking many of us to 'pack up the American Dream' and to accept the invitation to go to the unreached people groups of the world."
Passion Conference's "Do Something Now Campaign" gave students practical and attainable ways to impact lives on a global scale. By visiting the "Global Awakening" area at Passion '07, students were able to learn about the needs of various nations. Representatives from 35 mission organizations were available to help students discover service opportunities and give them practical ways to participate.
One way was to donate funds to support the digging of wells in Africa. By the end of the conference, college students had given enough money for 39 wells.
Other projects included donating towels and socks for homeless shelters in Atlanta; pledging funds for the translation of New Testament Scriptures for the Dela and Rikou people of Indonesia; and contributing towards 100 life-changing surgeries for children in South America.
Students responded to the "Do Something Now Campaign" by donating more than $700,000 to mission projects and organizations.
"The people we are helping may not know anything about Passion, but we want them to know that followers of Christ have been here," Giglio said. "We want to honor and glorify God by caring in practical, tangible ways for people who need food, clothing, shelter, liberty, and life."
"The interest in the Global Awakening area was so great that they had to stop letting students enter until others came out. How many places do you see a thousand people waiting in such a line?"
To keep up with the swell in registrations this year, the main sessions were held in two locations (the Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center) and linked via satellite.
Worship leaders included Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall and Matt Redman.
Along with Giglio, speakers included Bible teacher and author Beth Moore, as well as pastor and author John Piper.
Speakers and worship leaders encouraged participants to go out and shine the light of Christ to their campuses and to the world.
"Making our lives count for what matters most is a worthy goal but a costly proposition, and one that must be thoroughly absorbed and embraced if our lives are going to be shaped for his renown," Giglio said.
More than just one event, Passion is a worship movement. Giglio announced that throughout this year they will have gatherings in Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Toronto, Canada. In addition to those events, Passion Conferences will be having a world tour that will go into 15 nations in 2008.
"We started out at Passion '97 in Austin, Texas and wrapped around the theme verse, Isaiah 26:8, 'Yes, Lord, walking in the way of your truth, we wait eagerly for you, for your name and your renown are the desire of our souls,'" Giglio said. "God has brought us here for Passion '07. We're the same people, with the same message, with the same vision and heartbeat. We just want to see something happen in the lives of college students that we love so much, because they stand at the crossroads. When God changes a campus, he changes a nation. Each campus holds the potential to change the world.
"Our prayer has always been that the gospel would explode across the campuses of this nation and that no one would remember where it started. We didn't set out for 40 years of conferences. We set out to see God's Holy Spirit blow a wind on a generation that would bring a spiritual awakening to college campuses by encouraging students to live for his name and his renown."
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