In a culture where fewer than 10 percent of young adults regularly attend worship services and 32 percent of individuals under age 30 claim no religious identity, faith is alive and well at the 2013 Passion Conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Don’t count this generation out yet,” Passion founder and pastor Louie Giglio said at Tuesday night’s main session. “God is raising up a new generation.”
Approximately 60,000 students from 54 countries and 2,022 college campuses gathered in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome Tuesday night to worship with Christian music artists Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, Kristian Stanfill, and Christy Nockels before hearing a message from Giglio focused on “a God capable of accomplishing more than you could ask or imagine.”
“60,000 university-aged students from around the globe are gathered at the Georgia Dome this week to “make Jesus famous” and “end modern-day slavery.”
The conference’s fundraising initiative, the “Freedom Campaign,” is building off momentum gained at Passion’s 2012 conference, where attendees raised $3.3 million to combat human trafficking worldwide. Funds raised this year will be distributed to organizations including World Relief, The A21 Campaign, International Justice Mission, and more, and attendees are expected to bring one towel and a pair of socks to donate to homeless shelters across the Southeast. Passion 2012’s “Towels and Socks” campaign was substantive enough to stock every homeless shelter in Atlanta for the entire year.
Speakers hosted at the conference this week will include Francis Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, International Justice Mission president Gary Haughen, to name a few, and the conference will conclude Friday afternoon.
“There’s nothing like it,” said volunteer Youfang Yiu. “You can watch it online or on DVD, but there’s nothing like actually being with 60,000 college students worshipping at the Dome.”
Yiu is one of 3,000 volunteers who dedicated his week to serving at Passion. A tech consultant for IBM, Yiu took time off work to direct foot traffic and help answer questions about logistics.
“I feel like this is a week I’m making the choice to keep all the distractions of daily life out and just focus on God and serving other people,” Yiu said. “That’s something I hope to do more consistently—not just once a year at a conference.”