USA (MNN) — A new generation of believers is passionate about following Christ, and 22,000 students are currently gathered in Atlanta, Georgia to prove it.
The Passion 2011 conference stems from a nearly 15-year history of conferences meant to engage college-age Christians in "worship and prayer for spiritual awakening in this generation."
The first Passion conference in 1997 arose out of Louie Giglio's Choice Ministries, a campus-based student ministry at Baylor University. Within ten years after its founding in 1985, the ministry had grown so large that it gave birth to a vision for a national conference for passionate young followers of Christ.
Over the past 14 years, the conference has grown rapidly from hosting 2,000 in '97 to 22,000 students and leaders in 2007. Passion has consistently hosted the 22,000 students a year from every U.S. state since then. The January 1-4, 2011 conference, going on right now, is sold out.
Passion 2011 is focused as always around the Isaiah 26:8 proclamation: "Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts."
This year's Atlanta conference features the musical talents of Chris Tomlin, David Crowder Band, Charlie Hall, Matt Redman, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Tenth Avenue North, Lecrae and Gungor. Speakers include Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, Andy Stanley, David Platt and Gabe Lyons.
In addition to the numerous worship and break out sessions that have occurred over the last three days, students have also had the opportunity to mingle with representatives from several Christian ministries. One featured ministry this year is CURE International.
At Passion 2010, CURE asked attendees to help provide surgeries for 50 children in Afghanistan with cleft lip conditions. 100 children will receive treatment, thanks to the group's response.
This year, CURE hopes for similar results for 50 infants in Uganda. Often in Uganda, children born with hydrocephalus are deemed as cursed and thrown into the river to appease the spirits. (Watch a CURE video exposing the mindset here.) CURE continues to go into tribes, showing them Christ's love and explaining that their children can, in fact, be healed. The ministry is asking Passion attendees to help them continue this process and perform more surgeries to save more children.
Pray that Passion students would be moved to help these voiceless infants through CURE. Pray that the Lord would use the conference to build leaders in the faith and to raise up a generation passionate about the Truth and eager to spread it. Pray that as students go home tonight and as the spiritual high from the event dies down, the commitments they made at Passion would remain firm and lives would truly be changed.
You can read more about what's been going on at Passion this week at their blog.