A sight along the way as we traveled the backroads to Atlanta.
We were headed to Passion Conference along with 65,000 other seniors/college students across the world. This was the first time we have ever been and we were all pretty excited. Speaking of first times this was the first time Passion has allowed high school students to attend the Passion Conference so it was a great opportunity for our kids to attend. Our prayer was that this conference would put a spark in these students that they have never had before and they would be so on fire for God and live for Him as they get ready for college.
WOW!!! This conference was like nothing we had ever seen before. Great speakers, GREAT music, and lack of sleep is what filled our Tuesday - Friday.
The conference was at the Georgia Dome, but we were staying in the Buckhead area (about a 30 minute Marta trip) which made it a little cumbersome but we were all troopers!!
Our daily schedule went like this:
8AM - Leaving our hotel to ride the Marta to Downtown (actually walked the last part instead of taking the transfer with about 30K other students
9AM - Meet with our community groups. Jason and I were with about 7K other leaders, our high school students were all together and our 2 college students were together.
10:30AM - Morning session with speakers like Beth Moore and Judah Smith
Of course Awesome music from Chris Tomlin, Chris Stainfield, Kari Jobe, Christy Nockels, and Crowder
Our great students!!
Lunch in the dome provided by Jason's Deli- yeah feeding 65,000 people in about 20-25 minutes - it was crazy
1:00 - Afternoon session with more great speakers and music
3:00 - 6:30 - afternoon break for dinner. We didn't have time to go back to our hotel so one day we headed up to Lenox Mall to walk around and grab some dinner. It's amazing how difficult it can be to go anywhere, grab something to eat when 65,000 people invade a city.
During the conference, Passion introduced End It Movement which was a way for us to get involved to end human trafficking in the world. They had stations set up all around the conference for us to go and give. It was a very humbling experience to see these young college students willing to give their money that they probably don't have too much of it since they are college students. Even our kids made a point to go one afternoon to give. By the end of the conference the total amount given was $3.2M - crazy to think!! You can find out more about this movement by going to End It Movement
Another way they had us get involved was to bring towels and socks for the homeless in the Atlanta area. They had these towers all around the conference center.
It was so cold up in Atlanta and all I wanted was a Starbucks - both to stay warm and awake. Well, with so many people at the conference and this being the only Starbucks close to the Stadium, a couple of the girls and I chose to stand in this line one night before the evening session - crazy huh? Thankfully the others kept our seat while we waited for about an hour in this line, but the Chai was so worth it!!
Thursday afternoon we wanted to go to the store to buy cd's and shirts. After we walked about 15 minutes to the other end of the Georgia World Congress Center we arrived to the store. We first thought oh this won't be too bad so we picked out our merchandise and were directed to a huge room to wait in line to pay. Have you seen anything like this before? We waited over an hour to pay - yes we were crazy.
7 - 10:30 - Evening session with AWESOME speakers like Louie Giglio, Francis Chan, and John Piper and of course more great music. I have never been in an environment like this where 65,000 people are worshipping the Lord with song. At one time I leaned over to Jason when I heard some Korean students behind us singing I'll Fly Away (now this wasn't the typical Southern Baptist way of playing it).
Check out the lights. It was like this every night!!
11:00PM - 12:00 - Community Groups - now keep in mind that 65K people had to leave the Dome and walk over to the Georgia World Congress Center to their appropriate Community Groups. This took about 15-20 minutes to do even though they are right by each other.
The high school student Community Group. These rooms were so large and there must have been about 8000 students in there.
We then had to rush to the Marta with about 20K-30K other people to catch the Marta back to our hotel before the Marta closed at 1AM - crazy times and fun memories
This was about 1:30AM in the Marta station- we were all pretty exhausted
As we were headed back to our hotel on Wednesday night in the Marta station, we ran into Mark Hall from Casting Crowns. He is a youth pastor at a church in Mcdonough, GA and he had some of his high school seniors at Passion as well. He was one of the coolest guys to talk with and was more than happy to take a few pictures. One of our guys, Tyler, actually asked him several questions about how to get started in the music business and he was so willing to answer them.
On our last night, all 65,000 of us went out on the courtyard with candles in hand and then a huge beam of light went into the Atlanta sky. This was all done as a stand to end slavery and it was truly amazing to be a part of such an awesome event.
We were blessed to take a great group of kids with us who were very well behaved and had no trouble with them at all. It helped us grow closer with these students and hopefully we will have more next year when we go.