The Ripple Effects of Passion 97 and Beyond

Checking my twitter this morning, I found out that Passion 2011 Atlanta is underway.  I clicked on the livefeed, and a flood of memories came sweeping over me, taking me all the way back to Passion 97 in Austin, Texas.  I have a suspicion that thousands were changed during these conferences.  I’d like to share my story….

I was part of college group from Louisiana Tech who had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  God rocked our world in Austin 1997: a Copernican Revolution, centering our world’s on God.  The singing was God-centered, the praying was Holy Spirit saturated, and the preaching was Christ-exalting.

What I remember the most was John Piper’s talks.  He shocked me, or specifically, he ticked me off.  After his first talk, I remember talking with my college minister, Len Woods, saying, “How dare he say that I am not the center of God’s universe.  Didn’t God send His Son to die for me?!”  This was my first exposure to Reformed preaching, and it completely left me undone.  Len gently reaffirmed the biblical truths of Piper’s message and said, “If you so strongly disagree with him, why don’t you buy his book (Desiring God) and think about it some more?”

So, that’s exactly what I did.  It was my first serious theological book, and it was a very hard book for me to read.  I got a hold of Piper’s messages (Part 1 & Part 2), I listened to them hundreds of times.  I was encouraged to hear that Matt Chandler told Mark Dever in a recent interview that he also wore out Piper’s Passion 97 talks.  God used Passion & Piper to show me how God’s sovereignty, passionate worship, and missions are indissolubly  interconnected in Christ.  A large reason why I am a missionary in the Presbyterian Church in America is a result of these conferences.  We attended Passion every year until One Day 2000 at Shelby Farms in Memphis, TN.  It was crazy to see how the Passion Conferences grew exponentially each year from 3,000 in Austin (1997) to 50,000 in Memphis (2000).

I wonder how God has used the Passion Conferences in the lives of others?  My small band of college students who attended Passion were all changed dramatically.  As for me, God confirmed that I was to marry Sandi and that we were called to foreign missions.  It was probably the closest thing to revival that I have been a part of.  Simply put, I would not be where I am today without God working through Passion.  I am now married to Sandi; we have four girls and we are working in Peru helping a church planting network.

How did God use Passion in your life?  I would love to hear your story.