Monday, January 7, 2013

Passion 2013

This year, Jordan and I once again made the trek to Passion 2013. But unlike last year, we had an especially small person tagging along with us. Things were vastly different with Mr. Isaac along for the ride. First difference? I opted out of the 17hr van ride from Texas to Georgia in favor of a couple of flights to Atlanta. I'm not at all bummed to skip out on the church van trek, but don't be that jealous. I faced my own awesome speed bumps flying by myself with a 2 month old. And by awesome, I mean lots of spit up at 30,000ft, and trying to balance holding Isaac while simultaneously emptying my bladder and trying to keep 2 carry ons from touching the nasty airport bathroom floor (More "fun" travel stories to come). Secondly, the three of us stayed at the Omni, which is a 10 minute walk from the Georgia Dome, where as the students (and other adults) stayed at a hotel near Turner Field. Because I'm a stubborn person, I wore down the pavement between our room and the dome walking back and forth to nurse Mr. I every 3 hours. Finally, we took twice as many people this year when compared to last year! There were 22 of us total! Check out our group:

I'm not in this photo (nor are 2 of the girls) because I didn't ride the vans this year! 
Passion 2013 was just as awesome as the last few years' worth of Passion conferences. They had essentially the same lineup: Louie Giglio, John Piper, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, David Crowder, Matt Redman, LeCrae, and Charlie Hall. There were also a few "new" faces: Judah Smith, Jesus Culture, Kari Jobe and a few other worship leaders and speakers. It's the same great formula: 60,000+ people, primarily college students, gathered together for worship/speaking led by those incredible names listed above. It's an experience that you can hardly describe without cheapening it in some way. God's presence is so heavily felt in that place, that it would seem impossible to leave unchanged.

Personally, Passion was a greatly different experience this year, thanks to the munchkin that I took along. Obviously, Isaac did not actually attend any of the conference, but instead hung out in the hotel with my awesome sister and mom. Unfortunately, because of feeding conflicts (I told you I'm a stubborn momma!), I didn't attend any of the community groups this year. I made it to all but 3 of the main sessions. Honestly, I dealt with a lot of anxiety leaving Isaac at the hotel. I know I was only a short walk away and I know he was being watched by 2 people I care dearly for (who are also nurses), but for some reason, I just couldn't shake the anxiety. Sadly, this was a big distraction. It did get better with prayer and time, but I was always subconsciously thinking about Isaac and what time it was and how much longer I had before his next feeding and how he was doing and if he was fussy and if he slept well and on and on and on.

Conversely, having him there also greatly enriched my experience. Coming back to Passion as a mother, I am so much more sensitive to the love of Christ, because I have a closer picture of what His unconditional love is truly like. Although I believe Mr Isaac was knit together by God Himself (as described in Ps 139), by having a part in the creation of another person, I have a clearer glimpse of the great Creator. I can better identify with the sacrifice made on the cross and the knowledge of His suffering affects me so much deeper. Being a parent opens up a whole new way to relate to God as Father. All around, it was beautifully different.

David Crowder (minus the *Band)
For the last several years, Passion has asked those who are registered to bring along unused towels and socks to be donated to area homeless shelters. Last year, Passion collected so many new towels and pairs of socks, that the homeless shelters of Atlanta had a surplus that was sent to the shelters serving those affected by Superstorm Sandy. That's a ton of socks. This year, once again, they collected massive amounts of towels & socks. I think they may have stopped counting around 600,000 pairs of socks. I never heard an official total, but I wouldn't recommend going to an Atlanta area walmart anytime soon if you're looking for towels or socks. 

One of the many giant towel pyramids. 
I happened upon this sweet sight while walking through the GWCC - Passion volunteers praying over those who would receive these towels.
 Continuing in the footsteps of last year, Passion adopted human trafficking and the modern day slave trade as its cause to support. Of course, by that, I mean the eradication of human trafficking. This year, our 4-day goal was to raise 3 million dollars to fund operations pictured below:

Not surprisingly, God moved in the hearts and wallets of the students at Passion and those who tuned into the live stream. 3.17 million dollars was raised in 4 days, primarily by poor college students. What a miraculous outpouring of love to provide aid, relief, and restoration to those who would otherwise be unable to attain these things. The following operations were fully funded:
  1. Help end the exploitation of at-risk children in Thailand by providing a safe and stable environment for 125 rescued/at-risk children and equipping them with skills for long term sustainability. (Not For Sale)
  2. Protect children from forced labor and sexual abuse by providing community wide education and prevention programs throughout Ghana (Free the Slaves)
  3. Empower 285 communities in the epicenter of the human slave trade -Cambodia, with human trafficking prevention education and help stop slavery before it starts (World Relief)
  4. Providing life saving protection for orphaned boys and girls in Moldova who are at high risk of becoming victims of human trafficking. (Stella's Voice)
  5. Help prevent trafficking by funding the training for 300 law enforcement officers in Thailand who will work to identify victims and stop slavery before it starts (A21 Campaign)
  6. Awaken companies and consumers to be accountable for their practices and purchases within the supply chain (Slavery Footprint)
  7. Train 5,000 law enforcement officers, first responders, and community advocates to identify, rescue, and serve victims of human trafficking within the US. Help fund a hotline to identify and support victims of trafficking within the US. (Polaris Project)
  8. Fund the launch of 1 safe home for 85 girls freed from India's Red Light Districts (Bombay Teen Challenge)
  9. Fund 4 investigation teams at Nepal/India border crossings to prevent the trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and dismantle existing trafficking networks. (Tiny Hands International)
  10. Provide rescue and restoration for 10 women desiring to leave the sex industry and/or be freed from sex trafficking in Atlanta, GA. (Out of Darkness)
  11. Fund the rescue of 22 girls who are currently suffering as sex trafficking victims in the Philippines, the arrest of 7 traffickers and shut down 2 brothels that will result in the protection of hundreds of girls (IJM)
  12. Fund the freedom and rescue of more than 200 victims of hereditary slavery in India and bring criminal charges against the slaveholders and traffickers. (Free the Slaves)
  13. Provide a center and safe haven for 80 women who have been sexually exploited in Indonesia. (Warm Blankets Orphan Care)
  14. Help provide restoration to survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation in the US by funding the launch of 2 new safe homes. (Wellspring Living)
  15. Help restore 12 girls from Cambodia who have been rescued from sex slavery. (Ratanak International)
  16. Provide a team of multilingual counselors to conduct assessments of potentially trafficked foreign-national women caught in the court system in NYC (Restore NYC)
  17. Fund the rescue of 150 girls trafficked across the Nepal/India border and empower communities to prevent further trafficking (She is Safe)
  18. Provide restoration for 15 girls recovering from the abuse of sexual exploitation and slavery. (Love 146)
  19. Provide 80 children from backgrounds of trafficking and abuse restoration and hope for a future. (Hagar International)
  20. Provide restoration for 25 women freed from slavery and sexual exploitation in India through the funding of a recovery safe home (10/40 Connections)
  21. Provide long-term care, protection, and restoration for 3 women who have been trafficked and exploited in Bulgaria. (A21 Campaign)
Isn't that just INCREDIBLE?!?! The money raised at Passion 2013 will really go to make a huge difference in the eradication of this great injustice known as human trafficking. Click on the links above (I went to a lot of trouble getting all of these organizations linked up! Throw me a bone here!) to learn more about each campaign and organization and their vision for changing the world. At the very least, you should visit Slavery Footprint and learn how many slaves you are employing through the purchases you make on a daily basis. It is really eye opening and subsequently nauseating to see how far reaching this problem really is.

I'm curious to see what kind of Google traffic I get with words like "sexual exploitation" and "brothel."

I digress.

As usual, we were not disappointed by our experience at Passion 2013. Jordan and I already look expectantly to Passion 2014! I think as long as there are Passion Conferences, we will be taking church vans full of pumped up college kids halfway across the country.


Kathy said...

Wow Hollie! What a great post! I have never heard of Passion but would love to go sometime. Great speakers and musicians. I took the Slavery Footprint survey and was amazed to see I used 25 slaves. I thought I was doing so good because I used so little of the products they mentioned. So very sad to see this still going on in the world and so glad to see something is being done about it.

Nancy Beyer said...

I was SO thinking of you while watching the live stream. AMAZING!!! I would LOVE to go to Passion, maybe if y'all need a "sponsor/chaperone" for next year I can hop on the van, ha! And that's just what great mommas do, worry over our precious babies while away! Brady is 12M old and I STILL don't like to be away from here for more than 2-3hrs. Thanks for sharing about Passion, can't wait to look through all the links :)

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