P A S S I O N 2020
What can I say about Passion Conference 2020? It was an incredible experience and though I don’t quite know where to start, I’d like to first say this: do not wait until a conference for your love for Jesus to ignite and catch fire! I cannot tell you how many Christians nowadays think that a conference will be the thing that finally gets them “back on track” or to fall in love with Jesus again. Please hear me: I am NOT saying that the Holy Spirit cannot/will not meet you there in the setting of a conference to call you back to the Father. I am not saying this whatsoever. But what I am saying is this: don’t wait for a conference to come before you fall in love with Jesus. Who knows when your time will come? Yes, God will always be there, but you may not. So why not seize the day and time you have now to run towards freedom in the Father’s arms? Don’t wait. Imagine if you could only feel the love of your spouse on your wedding date? Only during that specific time do you have the drive and passion to pour out your heart to the one you say loves you and you love in return. That wouldn’t be a very fulfilling marriage would it? To only know/feel that same spark once a year. So why would we do the same thing with our relationship with Jesus? It definitely gives you something to think about.
Now, onto Passion 2020. This was my very first Passion Conference. I was so excited to go to Passion alongside my small group girls and church friends. I had always wanted to go and I had heard so much about it. This yea it was in Atlanta and my friends and I split an Air BnB together that wasn’t too far from the Mercedes Benz Stadium. This year’s Passion actually SOLD OUT!! 65,000 18-25 year old attendees, not including the wonderful Door Holders (volunteers) that came to aid us in having a safe and fun Passion. I was excited to see Hillsong, Passion (of course), Kari Jobe and her husband, John Piper, and so many more wonderful people who have committed their lives to furthering the Kingdom. Some of the advice that I had heard leading up to the weekend was “pack lots of Airborne and Emergen-C” cause that’s a lot of germs in one place. I did follow that advice but I will also say that I had never taken so much Airborne in my life than I did those 3 days, haha! Anywho, the drive wasn’t bad since we were coming from Charleston, SC and my car even got there early enough to have some ramen at a local shop and incredible coffee near the Benz. As we arrived, we slowly but surely started to see Passion goers in the same places as us. Now how did we know they were going to Passion? One giveaway were the Bibles and clear bags that were recommended to have since the Benz has a clear bag policy. But honestly, we knew by the “Modern Christian” looks we saw. Lots of jean jackets, combat boots, pastel colors or the signature earth tones, of course the “worship leader black” outfits and TONS of stylish hats one would get from Target or Urban Outfitters. Christian culture is something to behold and I may have to save that for entirely different post.
As the time drew closer for us to get to the Benz and wait in line to be let into the stadium, we waited patiently in line and since it was New Year’s, we saw a lot of activity in Atlanta, GA. Lots of people getting their party on pretty early but were hype nonetheless. There was, however, a distinct difference between the energy of the New Year’s peeps and the Passion goers. Worship erupted from the crowd and lots of people dancing and shouting and getting hype for what was about to happen. I was very excited because, again, it was my first Passion and I had no clue what to expect. The lights began to glow and crowds of people were ushered in to the stadium and I was so excited to get a good seat. All night we had been listening and watching footage of a lamp that held fire that traveled all the way from the alleged tomb of Jesus in Israel to Atlanta, GA at the Benz. After a long time waiting, the conference began with a bang! Passion Worship band came out and sang “Nothing That Our God Can’t Do” and I hadn’t heard the song before but it was so wonderful. Song after song played and my heart was shifting its posture to be ready to receive whatever the Lord had for me. As the night went on, I felt a nudging in my heart from the Holy Spirit and I quickly answered “yes, I’m here” and little did I know, the Holy Spirit brought up my cousin, Zanard. Ouch. Why now? I am at Passion for the first time and the Lord decides now is the time for further healing from my cousin, Nard, dying very suddenly in June 2019. I was unsure of what He possibly had to say but I was willing and ready to listen. He then asked me, “what is baptism?” Caught off guard, I answered, “After salvation, we are called to be baptized which represents our old selves in the flesh dying and our new selves in Christ coming to life.” He then asked, “and am I not with you when you come up from the water?” Confused still, I answer, “Yes you are with us. If we have been saved by grace through faith, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit which cannot be undone.” I can only imagine if I could see the Holy Spirit, He would be nodding as I speak with Him. Then He says, “what was the first thing you said when you heard Zanard had drowned?” Sad now, I answer, “He must have been so alone and scared.” Now, I hear the song “Another in the Fire” from the stage and I hear the lyrics to the chorus which go like this:
There is another in the fire
Standing next to me
There is another in the waters
Holding back the seas
And should I ever need reminding
What power set me free
There is a grave that holds no body
And now that power lives in me
There is another in the fire
Of course at this point, I start crying. Because I never thought about how loving it would be in the midst of trial, even when that trial ends in our death that He is with us. He has not abandoned us and I wept. I had never thought about how in the waters when his life was slipping from his hands, he could have been calling out to the Father (because he was saved) and the Holy Spirit within never left and Jesus was by his side. And from the waters, he stepped into his new life, even if we could not see it because that life is now eternal. New life from the waters, his old self dead, his new self, free and able to worship the Lord with everything he is. How good is our God? And this wasn’t even the whole first day of the conference and I was already feeling freer than I had been feeling in a very long time. At the end of day one of the conference, we were traveling home on that deep, Christian conference high from having just sung, “Good Grace” by Hillsong and welcoming a New Year and new decade. I couldn’t believe what all the Lord had done in that first night session and I couldn’t wait for the next day.
The next day of the conference, my friends and I were very tired since we’d only gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep. It was cold and rainy but we were eager to see what the new day held. My group and I, as the little Reformed Christians that we are, were very excited to know that John Piper was the first to speak that day and we couldn’t wait to hear him! We’d heard John Piper speak in person at our church before and we knew he was going to speak some hard but good truth. I highly encourage you to check out Passion 2020 and all of the speakers on YouTube since they are now available online for free. AND the new Passion album Roar has the whole weekend’s live worship so you can hear us singing and agreeing in one accord from start to finish! The whole day, we just kept yes and amen-ing all of the Truth being spoken and worshipped super deeply throughout the whole day. I would say the highlight from day 2 really was the chance to have great community with my people in this setting. You know sometimes you just need to get away from all of your responsibilities at home and come to place where you can just receive. I genuinely enjoyed being able to take in and not pour out for a change. At home, I am a leader in every way you could possibly think of in my work life and in ministry and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to do so. However, of course I get tired and I hadn’t quite gotten a hold of how to rest properly before Passion so to be able to have that time during the weekend to receive was so restful and necessary.
Finally, the last day of the conference, we had experienced so much in such a short amount of time, it almost felt unreal that Passion was ending. My favorite part of the last day was affirming everything we had heard in those 3 days and letting Atlanta, GA know that we mean business when we say we are absolutely, emphatically, and unrelentingly in love with Jesus and would not let anything stop us from living a life that reflected that. The drive back home seemed to take forever but I did get the chance, as I drove home, to debrief myself on all that happened. Everything from the first day and that special time with the Holy Spirit, to day 2 where I got to take it all in and not have to be a leader, and finally day 3 where I just got to celebrate all that Jesus is with 65,000 of my closest friends haha! A mighty roar was heard throughout those 3 days and I am so excited to be at Passion 2021 when they go to New York for the first time. If you have not had the chance to go to Passion Conference yet, I highly suggest you go. And if you are like me and will be 26 and above the age bracket of whom the conference is intended for, don’t worry! If you’re a leader and going with your group, get a ticket. If you are the eldest friend in your group and just want to experience it with them, get a ticket. If you want to volunteer, get a ticket. And even if you just want a new experience and have never known what the hype surrounding salvation and worshipping Jesus is about…get. a. ticket! You will not be disappointed and I guarantee you if you come with an open mind and heart, you will encounter something so wonderful and that wonderful thing is Jesus!