January 6th, 2013
07:28 AM ET

College students raise funds to fight slavery

By Jordan Hultine, CNN

Atlanta (CNN)–More than 60,000 young Christians packed the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for worship and inspiration at the Passion 2013 conference that wrapped up on Friday. They came together from 56 countries and 2,300 universities, according to organizers, “to shine a light on modern-day slavery.”

“We believe when you fill a dome full of people who say they follow Jesus, there should be some tangible action,” said Bryson Vogeltanz, chief steward of Passion’s freedom initiative. That tangible action came in the form of tens of thousands of towels and socks donated by conference-goers to be handed out at local homeless shelters in the weeks following the conference.

Vogeltanz and his team also wanted a global initiative. They focused on four key goals, which they called awake, prevent, rescue and restore. They identified 19 nonprofit organizations working around the world to eradicate modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The organizations were showcased during the conference and students and volunteers had the opportunity to donate money to the cause.

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The United Nations estimates 27 million people are entrapped in modern-day slavery at any given time around the world in a market valued at $32 billion.

Last year, Hagar International was one of the recipients of those donations. Hagar helps women and children recovering from horrific abuse and human trafficking in Cambodia, Afghanistan and Vietnam.

“We have been able to serve children who have been released from egregious abuse of being trafficked for sex, both boys and girls, in Cambodia,” said Jane Tafel of Hagar. “Those children have a new life now because of Passion 2012.” Tafel returned to the conference this year for the organization and was anxiously waiting to hear final donation numbers.

Wellspring Living, an organization that provides restorative services for girls who have been trafficked or suffered sexual abuse, said it was able to open a new transition facility as a result of the gifts that conference-goers gave last year, according to president and CEO Mary Frances Bowley.

Read More: The new Christian abolition movement

“This generation has the potential not just to end slavery, they have the potential to do anything,” Vogeltanz said. “Jesus was the original abolitionist. We’re just following what he’s already done in our lives for us," he said, referring to the Christian belief that Jesus saved all mankind from slavery and sin.

Students spent each day of the four-day conference participating in “community group” learning sessions and praise and worship led by well-known Christian musicians like Chris Tomlin.

An Atlanta-based pastor, Louie Giglio, started Passion in 1997. The goal, he said, was to see college students around the world “awaken to the reality of an omnipotent and glorious Creator.” Since then, organizers said, millions of students have joined the movement at Passion events around the world.

Sarah Stone is a college student from Atlanta who came to Passion with her church group. She said she came looking for a way to live her faith more fully. “Christianity is not just about saying a prayer and going to church on Sunday, it’s about living for Christ with every single thing you do,” Stone said.

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Belmont University student William Dodd said it’s inspiring to be surrounded by so many other college students who are gathered for the same purpose, and he is leaving with a desire to “get in the fight to end (slavery). God made us powerful creatures with a really big voice.”

“It’s inspiring to see a generation so engaged and looking out of themselves and looking at things like slavery and actually committing to making people aware of it - and it’s only the beginning,” said Jolie, who declined to give her last name, a conference volunteer who traveled from Australia to be a part of the Passion.

Passion organizers said the students gave $3,170,639 in support of their freedom initiative. Beyond fund-raising, organizers said, the goal was to shine a light on a worldwide problem and to inspire action.

Ramses Prashad, a college student from Orlando, Florida, said he has no other choice but to make a change when he gets home. “I can’t say that I didn’t know and say I wasn’t aware, so I have no other choice but to raise awareness and to do as much as I can for the cause and for the people.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

soundoff (801 Responses)
  1. I just read in a book

    How in times of human suffering Christianity is a call to action in relief of suffering rather than a reason to blame said Diety.
    I think that is happening here. Well done kids.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
  2. Theo

    Religion is slavery, its shackles are ideas that exist only in minds of men.

    January 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • I just read in a book

      If you have a choice in the matter it isn't slavery. Religion is chosen those who enjoy it.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Theo

      Let me rephrase

      Its the best kinda slavery, people who get duped into it love it and will defend it till the end of their days.

      All they get in return it ignorant bliss.

      January 24, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  3. Erik

    I really applaud these young Christians for using their faith to expose and help people who are in dire situations. If improving the human condition is not a main tenet of Christianity, then I don't know what is. Kudos to you 60,000!

    January 21, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  4. Steve

    I though Abraham Lincoln already did this?

    January 21, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Theo

      Well not like these christians they are trying to end one form of slavery for their own version.

      January 21, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  5. William Hudson

    God is Holy, and we, as sinners, could not come into His presence. However God loves us and had mercy on us. He came into the world in the Person of His Son, Jesus Christ. He walked among us, showed us how to live, and then He did an amazing thing. He took our sins upon himself on Calvary's cross. He suffered and bled, died and was buried. But on the third day, He was raised from the dead gaining victory over sin and death. Afterwards, He ascended to the Father, and now sits at His Right Hand interceding for all who know Him. He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, and all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. That is the Gospel Truth as others have presented on this blog. Those of you who choose to blaspheme the name of their Creator and reject Christ are free to do so. However, when they stand before Him at the Judgement, you cannot plead ignorance. Please make the correct choice. God wants all to come to repentance and have eternal life.

    January 21, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • Theo

      I got some holy land to sell, its in everglades r u in the market for some great land ?

      January 21, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • fintastic

      I've got a holy bridge in NY to sell you.

      January 28, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  6. Russ

    The Bible endorses slavery, so Christians denouncing slavery is going against the backbone of their religion.

    January 21, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • Brian

      No, the Bible does not endorse slavery, though it doesn't directly denounce it. The biblical ethic is to treat slaves well and see them as equals. This was a radical improvement on the views of slavery that were held by most people in those times.

      January 22, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  7. John

    Isn't weird seeing all the militant atheist's commenting on a story that has nothing to do with them or their beliefs......almost like they have an agenda or something

    January 20, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Agenda?!

      What you mean like surrendering all weaponry, or becoming a socialist nation like Europe, or perhaps a total end to both the first and second amendments? Nah. I'm sure you and I are just being paranoid.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Theo

      "almost like they have an agenda "

      My agenda is to wake up ignorant thinking adults who believe in fairy tales, the world can not progress w/o people waking up to the fact that silly old books are not the truth, and we have to find that out on our own what is true. HINT: it has nothing to do with crosses, candles, robes and singing to the Almighty old man in the sky.

      January 21, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • fintastic

      @ theo....... not to mention talking snakes or floods that never happened.

      January 28, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Why do people say "not to mention" and then immediately mention something?

      January 28, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  8. John G.

    It is so funny when atheists try to argue points from the Bible. They would do well to actually READ the thing. When you try to argue a subject without knowing anything about the source you sound like an idiot...

    January 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Observer

      What I find astonishing is that so many atheists assume every person who has a religion, is also a Christian.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
    • Domine

      You would be surprised by how much an atheist knows about the Christian religion. Most quit religion because they got sick of it, or realized its inconstancies. I quit because of it, and now I am in the light, free to do my bidding.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • Literality again

      Both fundamentalists and atheists seem to take the bible as completely literal in their interpretations.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:44 am |
    • DE

      I have read the entire bible which is why I am now a non-believer.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • Russ

      It makes sense to believe the Bible without reading it. But is it possible for a rational person to believe the Bible after reading it?

      January 21, 2013 at 5:49 am |
  9. CAES

    "Carol: In Luke 12, Jesus explains the correct way to beat slaves. Could you please direct us to where Jesus condemns slavery?

    Also, it has been and will always be immoral to own other human beings as property regardless of your nationality or heritage or favorite book of stories."
    The scripture you're attempting to grossly take out of context is Jesus' reply to Peter when asking about the "faithful steward and discreet one" appointed over his body of attendants to give food at the proper time. In other words if in fact the men appointed to provide Jesus' followers with proper counsel and knowledge fail to do so, their punishment would be as described in the latter verses you're claiming Jesus is describing how slaves should be beaten. Please educate yourself before making such ignorant claims.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • John G.


      January 19, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
  10. yaa

    To Christian Youth,

    By ending slavery, I hope you don't mean only recruiting more Christian followers and converting people from third world countries.
    If you do, you are just as fraudulent as your predecessors and we have had enough of your sh..i..t.

    If you are serious though, support universal healthcare, support gay marriage, support social security and medicare, support gun regulation .... these are the things enslaving us all right now.


    January 19, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • Literality again

      Although I agree strongly in support of gay marriage, medicare and social security, there are larger concerns when it comes to gun regulation and universal health care. (For example how much do you trust a government..any government).
      Of course, I know you addressed this to the Christian Youth and not to me, but I'm answering in their place as you've posted it here.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:48 am |
  11. ???????


    Reviewing the comments noticed someting interesting. Science PROVED it does not work the way the bible said it did !!!
    All the facts are here on this tread. Peer reviewed !!!

    January 18, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • sam

      a comity of the top scientists in the world, in the end all came to the conclusion that .... they Believe their research and evidence findings is the correct one, but is always changing ... so believe

      January 18, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • JD

      theistic evolution bra, just cause evolution went down (is going down) is not some magic eraser for God. jesus still came to earth and preached the truth, God still created ex nihilo, einstein proved as much, amidst skepticism of scientists. miller and urrey showed the unlikeliness that life could arise alone from the early soup of the earth. science is far from disproving God my friend

      January 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Parth

      JD, what are you on about? Einstein didn't prove anything about God's existence. As for the Miller-Urey experiment, it showed the complete opposite: namely that you can create proteins in an environment similar to that of early Earth: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2%80%93Urey_experiment

      January 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • fintastic

      @JD..... FYI...... here's what Einstein said about god;

      "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."

      January 28, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
  12. TheRationale

    End slavery. Sounds good.

    It's funny though. A century and a half ago they were fighting to keep the slaves. That's what's great about the Bible. It doesn't matter what it actually says. It's all how you "interpret" it. You just take your own opinions, find the passages in the Bible that support you, and dismiss the plethora of contradictions as "not relevant anymore" or "the old ways." There are so many contradictions that you can get away with anything! Hate g.ays? No problem. Want to accept them? Sure! Slavery is your cup of tea? Says it right there. Don't think so? Just turn the page and there you are! And if it's not explicit, you can just interpret! Three cheers for the completely subjective "objective" morality!

    January 16, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Confused

      Of course religion is subjective...that's the point. Art is also subjective.

      January 17, 2013 at 5:41 am |
    • Confused

      And also morality....is subjective.

      January 17, 2013 at 5:42 am |
    • Heineken

      Your comment genre is a statistical absolute. As soon as a Christian is doing something good...here comes the liberal police to condemn the hypocracy behind it. Soooo....banal.

      January 18, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Aldewacs

      Heineken: Christians do many good things. But that does not negate or erase the questionable things some of them also do that are directly as a result of their beliefs.

      January 18, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • CAES

      The Bible says nothing pertaining to condoning modern day slavery. "Slaves" in the Nation of Israel were volunteers. It was actually a provision made for the extremely poor to help them pay their debts. They were fronted money in advance to pay their debts, then worked up to 7 years, where even if they had not made enough to pay off their debt they were released. If the Jubilee Year happened to come during their 7 years of servitude they were actually forgiven of all debts and released. Please educate yourself before speaking out in ignorance.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  13. 2Honest

    I think the Bible clearly speaks for itself (and therefore Christianity) on this issue. Here are just 2 scriptures on the subject. There are MANY more. Keep in mind that this is GOD speaking to Moses – giving him the instructions to pass on to the people. The second passage here is in the chapter right after the 10 Commandments. Remember that, according to the Bible, God is "the same, yesterday, today and FOREVER."

    I am glad that these young people are doing some good in the world, but to do it in the name of "god" is ridiculous. They don't even understand who the Christian god is. I doubt most of them have ever actually read through the Bible.

    "You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance." (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    "When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment." (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

    January 15, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • Carol

      We are no longer under that Jewish Law. We are under God's Law. Thats why Jesus came,New Alliance.

      January 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Tony

      Carol: In Luke 12, Jesus explains the correct way to beat slaves. Could you please direct us to where Jesus condemns slavery?

      Also, it has been and will always be immoral to own other human beings as property regardless of your nationality or heritage or favorite book of stories.

      January 17, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • man

      so glad that you've read through the whole Bible . DON'T RISE YOUR HEND but YOU don't even know how many pages there are in the Bible...

      January 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
  14. Nietodarwin

    Those who believe absurdities will commit atrocities.

    If God exists, I hope he has a good excuse.
    Woody Allen

    January 15, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Literality again

      God exists as a concept. I don't mind the concept of "something" larger than self.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:50 am |
  15. Sane Person

    Funny how these Christians are trying to end slavery when the book they claim to live their life by clearly condones it.

    January 15, 2013 at 7:56 am |
  16. Aldewacs

    Clearly it is possible for people who have faith in things that have no substance, to do good works in the name of that faith. That's one of the few tangible positives that come out of it for third parties.

    Atheists like myself can welcome the good they do, even while we may question both their beliefs and the conditions that many 'religious charities' place on the recipients to 'Receive Jesus' before goodies are handed out. Bibles almost always accompany blankets. But even with all that, some good can be done.

    Not all 'good deeds' are conditional on proselytizing and drinking the kool-aid, but some clearly are.

    January 14, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  17. lol??

    hawaiiguest sayz,

    It is always an economical advantage to have slave labor.........." NOT.

    January 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
  18. guest1

    @seyedibar so how did martin lurther endorse slavery, im wondering. r u just making things up just because u hate people who believe in something that u do not believe. plz just stop being so prejudice

    January 14, 2013 at 1:22 am |
  19. Gir

    Mental slavery to imaginary deities is a far worse plight.

    Pull the log out of your own eye before trying to pluck a speck out of the eye of another.

    January 13, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Well put. I'll give a sarcastic xstian reply, since none have answered you yet.
      Nanny nanny billygoat, I'm going to heaven because I believe in "god" and live "in christ"
      (I don't care about the world or the future of it, because I am saved and will be in heaven.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • coresica

      I'm not so sure. If the people who believe in an imaginary deity are contributing to mankind in a positive way and not being hateful towards others then I would say they are doing better. That is unless you believe in only serving yourself and enlist others to join in that cause for only your selfish gain. If you keep painting with broad strokes you can say whatever you want about people to make yourself look better. Sounds like you need a friend.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Gir

      Coresica the Strawman!

      Able to leap from conclusion to conclusion without a single shred of evidence or relevance to the issue!

      Look! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's.......a pile of b-ulls-hit!

      January 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
  20. Seyedibar

    Good job, Christians!
    You have much to make up for, considering that you spent the last two millenia endorsing slavery.

    January 13, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • lol??

      Been sneakin' a few in that bar, Seyedie?

      January 13, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • coresica

      If you mean slavery to a supposed all powerful God, then yes. If you are referring to the notion of modern slavery I suggest you do your homework. The Bible doesn't endorse slavery. One of the many prominent themes throughout the book is freedom. Take it in it's entirety and explore the history and the culture of the time periods it references and you will be hopefully pleasantly surprised.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • ed

      Ah coresica, but slavery was a normal way of life during biblical times. If acceptance of such a way of life has changed since then, then why do so many have their heads still stuck in various other myth notions about morality. That's what Christians need to take a good look at while they bicker amongst themselves.

      January 14, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • lol??

      Cain didn't quite understand the concept.

      January 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • ME II

      I'm not sure the definition has changed all that much. The Bible referred to some slaves as property that can be inherited, how is that different than today's definition?

      January 14, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • guest 1

      wait, wasnt the church the first to denounce slavery. It first started with not having chirstian slaves then it became not having slaves at all. Abolitionists, before the civil war, used christian morals to denounce slavery and Martin Lurther King used the same morals to help get support for civil rights. Yes, the church tolerated slavery for a time but almost everyone did, plus it takes time for public opinion to change. Saying that christians endorsed slavery is wrong, it makes people question if u just hate the religion or the people who believe in that religion. Reading that statement, makes me think u r extremly prejudice agianst religions that worshipped a god

      January 15, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Pete Peeve

      Generalization fallacy again. These individuals were not responsible for the actions of others who lived long before them.

      January 17, 2013 at 5:45 am |
    • john 3:16

      what's the matter .... did a born again Jesus follower enslave you or someone you know?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.