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Passion 2017 got started as I spent my time at the resource booth selling shirts, CD’s, DVD’s and other merchandise. It was weird at first not being out in the seats listening to the worship music and sermon, but I knew God was using me so these college kids could be used by God. Ten years ago that was me out in those seats for the first time. Once things got underway, I was able to step out and listen during slow periods. I was blessed to have a great team of people to work with. The Passion Band got things started off with some new songs. Sean Curran introduced a new song called “Worthy of Your Name” which was powerful. Louie Giglio invited Dr. Charles Stanley to come up and open Passion with a prayer. Christine Caine spoke a powerful word on endurance. Crowder closed the session out and brought out special guest Carrie Underwood to sing with him on stage. It was an amazing night to kick off Passion 2017.

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Carrie Underwood and Crowder (Photo from Passion)

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DOOR HOLDER – One who takes great pleasure in opening the door for others to experience Jesus.

Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere: I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.

Psalms 84:10

Door Holders at Passion Conferences have been on the inside and have experienced God’s glory, and therefore consider it a privilege to stand on the outside and hold the doors for others to come and experience Jesus. In fact, they would rather hold the door than be anywhere else because their heartbeat has shifted away from themselves and is set on preparing the way for others to have a powerful experience with Jesus. 

I attended my first Passion conference ten years ago and it changed my life. I’ve been to quite a few since then and felt it was my time to give back to this movement that has shaped my life over the years. It was Passion’s twentieth anniversary and the last one in the Georgia Dome. I signed up to be a Door Holder (or volunteer) for my last conference.

I took a red eye flight to Atlanta and arrived on a cold and rainy morning. The good thing is that it will keep me awake for the day. We had an early morning Door Holder meeting in the Georgia World Congress Center. Atlanta has become a home away from home for me. I was assigned to the resource team and would be selling books, music and videos to the students here at Passion. My team lead was a pretty cool guy named Josh Sorensen. We set up and stocked our shelves in the Georgia Dome in preparation for the first session that evening. I enjoyed getting to know many of the people on my team who came from all over to help serve this big event.

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“Yes, LORD, walking in the way of your laws, we wait for you; your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.”   

Isaiah 26:8

Passion held its first conference in Austin, TX on January 1-4, 1997. That event drew around 2,000 students. Louie and Shelley Giglio are the founders of the Passion movement that seeks to see spiritual awakening on college campuses and to see many students to come to know Christ. Several national gatherings, OneDay events and tours would follow along with worship recordings and DVDs. I was introduced to Passion in 2007 (their 10 year anniversary) by the Pastor of my young adult group at that time. He flew over 30 of us to Atlanta, GA for their 4 day gathering at Philips Arena and the Georgia World Congress Center (over 22,000 students in attendance). I was newly single and just went on my first mission trip to Belize. I was pondering God’s will and direction for my life after my 9 year marriage ended. After participating in the “Do Something Now” campaign which raised $1.5 million dollars for global ministries on six continents and listening to Louie Giglio’s message about a party for the nations, I started to see some clarity in God’s calling for me. Passion ’07 absolutely change my life forever.

Fast forward to 2017 and it is now the 20th anniversary of the Passion conferences. In that time I have attended gatherings in 2010, 2013, 2015, a regional gathering in 2008 and a concert on the Take it All tour. Each one of these events were special to me and contributed to me following God’s will for my life. Passion 2013 in the Georgia Dome (over 60,000 students!) was life changing because of the launch of End It Movement  X – an awareness campaign that seeks to abolish modern-day slavery and sex trafficking. I am so incredibly thankful to the faithfulness of the Giglio’s and their staff for pouring into me through these amazing gatherings. I prayed about it and made the decision to attend one more gathering in the soon-to-be demolished Georgia Dome. This time I felt I needed to give back by being a door holder. Door holders are the hundreds of volunteers that serve on different teams such as community groups, logistics and registration. They are the glue that holds these Passion gatherings together. I’m not only excited to being a part of serving these students but also being a part of this 20 anniversary gathering of Passion.

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” 

 Psalm 84:10

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Passion ’07

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Passion ’97

Above is a photo taken at the very first Passion gathering in 1997. It’s amazing to know that a gathering of 2,000 students would eventually grow to over 60,000 in a twenty year span. Below are some videos describing the heart behind the lyrics of the worship songs that will be sung at this year’s Passion gathering.

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ESL teachers

ESL teachers

I can’t believe it has been three years since the Redemption church merger. Even though Redemption has never been a home church for me, I’ve been an off and on attendee since their early days. I love how God uses them to reach all areas of Arizona with the gospel with their multiple church plants. Tonight Pastor Riccardo shared many stories from the past three years of how God has been faithful and good to the church. I got to attend the service for a few reasons. Redemption likes to share God stories of how members of the congregation are being used in the community by God. Pastor Mullins interviewed my ESL director Stephanie on stage about how we are reaching the refugee community here locally in Tempe. Our students are mostly from Somalia and Redemption church oversees our teaching program. In fact, many of our volunteer teachers are members of Redemption.

Teaching ESL has been such a humbling and rewarding experience for me. My involvement came from when God called me to attend a Uzbekistan peace feast in November of 2011. Even though I had no idea why I was meant to go, God opened my eyes to the refugee community for the first time. Soon after I became an english teacher and now here I am two and half years later still teaching. Hearing the story of Redemption church tonight and my own personal story remind me of the Experiencing God study – Watch where God is working and join Him there. Trust me, do that and He will do the rest.

But my main reason I attended church tonight is because of the friend I brought. He was an old drinking buddy of mine from back in college. I haven’t seen him in 15 years, yet we are Facebook friends. He reach out to me earlier this week and mentioned life had become purposeless for him. He has been inspired by how I’ve been living my life and wanted to know what it is that kept me going these days. I laugh because I’m such a messy person, but I know it is Christ that He is seeing in me as the Spirit has really been working through my life these past couple years. He just moved to Tempe and I offered to introduce him to Redemption church because they are in the area. We had a great time catching up and I felt for him as I have been in that place of searching for significance many times in my life. I spent most of my night praying for him at church and was excited for him to hear the God-stories they were taking about from the stage. I pray that God grab a hold of him and that he becomes another God-story that will be shared to others someday.

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