If someone asks me years from now what I did April 1-3, 2011, I may not remember those dates because time seemed to stand still then. But if someone asks me years from now if I was at Passion 2011, I will respond with "absolutely!"
I've never attended a Passion Conference as an attendee. But after listening online to the Passion 2011 Conference held in Atlanta in January, I knew I wanted to be part of it--as a volunteer since I've "aged out" as an attendee--when it came to Cowtown. The messages preached by Andy Stanley, Francis Chan, and Louie Giglio back in January were so relevant and applicable that I wanted to hear more.
So I signed up online to volunteer, not knowing in what capacity I would serve. I just wanted to be a part of this ministry that is changing college students' lives and empowering them to reach others for Christ on their campuses. I figured that I would be placed on the prayer team or the registration team, but I received an email that I would be serving on the Touch Team.
Until I reported on April 1, I had no idea what that really meant. That morning, Shelley Giglio read Psalm 84:10, "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." She explained that all volunteers at Passion are called "Door Holders" because we have seen God's glory and want to open the door to let others see His glory as well.
As we broke into our specific teams to find out our assignments, I learned that I would be working the arena and would be able to hear all of the music and the messages; this was an amazing gift because they had prayed over us the night before for a humble spirit, knowing that many who served would not get to hear even a minute of what goes on during the conference.
Once in the arena, I requested to work at one of the portal entrances where they needed someone who was "friendly but enforcing" to keep people out of the area due to some sort of restrictions. I asked whether I was allowed to let those with "all access" passes into that area and was told that was okay but that I probably wouldn't have to worry about that unless a production crew member needed in. Several of the volunteers pretended to come into the area to test my ability to be "friendly but enforcing," and I passed with flying colors.
Hours later when the conference actually started, my assignment turned out to be a little different. Apparently, our team lead was not given the memo on exactly who would be sitting in sections 101-02 and 201-02. I ended up opening the door hundreds of times for the three days to let in all of the speakers and all of the artists and all of their guests. My co-volunteer decided that he would take the opportunity to touch Francis Chan on the shoulder as he walked by since we were on the Touch Team after all, but I restrained. I didn't know whether I should act like I knew who they were or how to acknowledge them, so I simply smiled widely and opened the door.
Throughout the time I served, I was able to peek in only a few times. Though I could hear everything clearly, from hours of heartfelt worship led by Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, Kristian Stanfill, Charlie Hall, and the David Crowder Band to Chan's tearful message to live a life worthy of the Gospel to John Piper's gripping message on how God makes much of us to Louie Giglio's message on carrying the Name, I couldn't see the stage, even though I was at the closest vantage point, because I was outside the entrance. It served as a great reminder to walk by faith not by sight.
As I sat at my post during those three days, I also noticed that the team leaders, most of whom had flown in from Atlanta and the surrounding areas, knew how to serve in ways that I had never witnessed. Throughout the three days, they warned us how draining but filling this time would be, encouraged us, and prayed over us frequently. Their selfless servant hearts taught me more than they will know.
Though I didn't get to see as much of the students as I had hoped, their energy was felt. At one point on Saturday while all of the doors were locked, the noise from the arena was reverberating and causing the doors to come open. And their contagious generosity was a highlight of the weekend as they gave $100,000 in one hour to reach a goal of having 90 Bible stories translated for a group nicknamed the Koso people.
I pray that the message of Passion 2011 will spread rapidly throughout college campuses and that I will continue to be a Door Holder for the rest of my life.