Each year I attend a Passion Conference I go in as a journalist looking for stories. Stories told by the speakers, stories reflecting the amazing worship, stories of how people traversed the globe to get here.
Each year God gives me my own story.
Last year, I was blessed to see a glimpse of God’s magnificent glory in the broad daylight. (My Encounter with God at Passion 2012.)
This year the story was quieter, almost a whisper. And I found it in the shadows.
Have you ever thought about the “Shadow People” in your life? It’s a term I use for those people who intersect with us but in the shadows, in the peripheral parts of our life. We see them at the drive-thru window; they pick up our garbage; check our baggage. I believe we come in contact with thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Shadow People in our lifetimes.
On Wednesday, at Day Two of Passion 2013, I met one of the many Shadow People who impact my life daily.
I’m ashamed to say I don’t even know her name. She is the woman who serviced the Media Suite in the Georgia Dome on January 2, 2013.
This is why our meeting is significant and how it became my Passion 2013 story.
During the conference, Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion, has repeatedly spoke to the 60,000 students and leaders in attendance about their impact on Atlanta, on this nation, and in the world.
Passion for Atlanta
Giglio spoke about the towels and socks that are collected from attendees at each Passion Conference. Last year, Passion students stocked all Atlanta-area homeless shelters for the year. In fact, when Hurricane Sandy ravaged the east coast and shelters there were in need of provisions, Atlanta-area shelters were so confident in the expectation of towels and socks from Passion 2013 attendees, they gave away their 2012 surplus to those in need in other states.
Passion for the Nation
Giglio talked of attending the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington in February and told the students how President Obama had specifically talked about the impact of the students at Passion 2012 in the fight against human trafficking.
Passion for the World
Giglio introduced a moving video. It told the story of Rachel. This 12-year Filipino girl had been rescued from the sex trade by the combined efforts of International Justice Mission and Love 146, two organizations who are recipients of the multi-million dollar offering collected from the college students at Passion Conferences.
Giglio never ceases to speak to the purpose of Passion: to make Jesus known.
But this afternoon, this woman, this Shadow Person, entered the Media Suite to check on our waters and sodas. To make sure we were comfortable.
It was during a break in sessions, and Allison Althoff, a reporter with Christianity Today, and I were the only ones in the suite.
The woman asked us if we needed anything. And, then she shook my world.
She asked us what was going on in the Dome.
Sixty thousand students have descended on Atlanta from all 50 states, from 54 countries, and from 2,022 college and university campuses. They have reached out to Atlanta’s homeless and to those without hope in the deepest darkest parts of this globe, but this young woman had no idea why they were here.
The homeless shelters may know we are here. The President may acknowledge our presence. The impact may be felt in the Philippines.
But this woman worked in the building, and she had no idea what was happening in this place.
This place where Jesus’ name was being lifted high. This place where Jesus’ renown was prioritized.
She had not a clue. She was in the shadows. She was in the darkness.
Allison spoke to her, explaining Passion, as well as anyone can really explain Passion. The woman was astonished at the sheer number of people in the building.
“More than a Falcons’ game,” she commented.
And she left.
Later, after Allison had left and I was alone in the suite, she returned with another employee. He was curious as well.
I had a few moments to speak with them.
Again, I regret that I didn’t think to ask them their names. I needed to bring them out of the shadows and put names to their faces.
Faces that God has indelibly printed on my heart and in my prayers.
God reminded me in this encounter that, while big movements are important, He works just as significantly in the little meetings. I need to be more intentional, more reflective of the restorative, redemptive work of God in my life. As Beth Moore said in her Passion session, I need to not only know the Good News of Jesus Christ’s offer of salvation, I need to be glad about it.
God moved me by showing me just how close people living in darkness are in my life. He reminded me that my job is to reflect His light onto their shadows, into their darkness.
That’s my Passion 2013 story.
An all access download pass is available for only $25, providing access to all sessions, live worship, and numerous bonus features. It is available on the 268Generation website. I encourage you to watch these messages, listen to this worship.
Let God give you a Passion story.