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.

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“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. We are who we are


    7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    Look around the world and think why you are a slave for free. Gos will gather his nation and will leave and the rest will live with each other (they can cheat, lie and kill each other) Question is? Who's gonna be there slaves?

    February 10, 2013 at 12:48 pm |

    • I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.
      See how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly.
      I'm crying.

      February 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  2. We are who we are

    2 Chronicles
    7:14 If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

    February 10, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  3. rogercao4

    God is real and anything is possible if done through his name. He loves all of creation and blesses us with true happiness. This is a great cause that these people are doing. Believe it or not but thousands of other organizations are oing the same thing. God bless America.

    February 10, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your entire post is not true....you may beleive it, but there is no truth to any of it.

      February 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm |

  4. 1018

    February 10, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  5. Sane Person

    Well, lets forget they are a few thousand years late and just be glad they showed up at all.

    February 9, 2013 at 6:18 am |
    • Adam

      What are you doing about it?

      February 10, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  6. Randy

    Perhaps we should focus on the fact that slavery is wrong and, regardless of our differences, come together on that one item? It needs to stop.

    February 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
  7. John Brown

    It's refreshing to see that Christians might be returning to addressing social issues. I remember back in the 60s and 70s the Christians were involved in all kinds of social issues. Since then they just seem to focus on abortion and, more recently, gay rights and have allowed themselves to be hijacked by the Republicans over those two issues. I don't know if the change was a result of Roe v Wade or what, but I miss those days when Christians acted like Christians.

    February 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Hannibal

      Yeah, I remember those days, too. It's a shame, really.

      February 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Reality Check

    Slavery will never end...capitalism owns us all. One third of your work day pays "the man". Shall I say, "May I have another, Uncle Sam".

    February 5, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  9. Adam

    How to fight slavery:

    1. Take your bible
    2. Rip out the Old Testament
    3. Employ apologetic reasoning to explain why Jesus, nor any church leader in the last few thousand years had not done so earlier.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • lol??

      4. Reread your student loan contracts.

      February 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • CrossCountry

      ha! like

      February 8, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  10. Agnostic theist

    Human slavery is messed up. I am astonished that anybody would even consider humans "capital" but you got to watch out for those predatory types. The one thing worse than a virus is a human.

    February 1, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  11. Ceverett

    Interesting. Non-believers serial posting in a believers blog. "gotsts no life" much? lulz

    January 30, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Zingo

      Christians just hate freedom of speech.

      February 1, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Agnostic theist

      I heard they hate freedom of religion too Zingo. You know coz..they'd hate it if somebody y'know talked...about religion..in public and stuff.

      February 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • sam stone

      it is a belief blog. those who do not believe in a particular deity still have beliefs. enjoying your hissy fit?

      February 3, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
  12. Jordan

    They're about 130 years too late.

    January 30, 2013 at 2:46 am |
  13. Just call me Lucifer

    Ending physical slavery to indoctrinate the subjugated into mental slavery. Great flock building technique... not so good for the sheep.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  14. The Trooph

    College students raise funds to fight slavery.

    Atheist students raise funds to stop them, buy drugs.

    January 28, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Pete

      "Atheist students raise funds to stop them, buy drugs."

      More lies from the xtians – 160!

      January 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • The Trooph

      You lie, too.

      January 28, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • DaTruth

      if by "buy drugs" you mean "become world reknowned scientist and dedicate their lives to the advancement of our species". THen yea, you would be correct

      February 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  15. jhicks9

    no reason to vow. Just pray, remember if you want that mountain moved just pray, doesn't say maybe he will think about it, you pray and it will be done. So either you aren't praying hard enough or we've been lied to....and we can't be that much of an idiot can you?

    January 28, 2013 at 4:51 am |
  16. 5875hours

    How come We are allowed to blog here ("In Open Forum") and every other storie, we have to down load Chrome, Fire fox, Mozzela or what ever browser to participate? .

    OH, CNN wants to see everybody bash each other over their beliefs or disbeliefs. YEA thats so rightious CNN.

    January 27, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  17. Dave8582

    Actually, Bible Belt Christians were very much against freeing the slaves. They used quotes from their bible to justify owning people. God even gave rules for the caring of slaves. "Beat 'em, but don't kill em....Unless they die later from the beating. Then it's okay. You gotta love that god!


    January 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • NII

      Don't return runaway slaves is also in the Bible.

      January 30, 2013 at 2:57 am |
  18. Markus H

    Great report. Thanks!

    January 25, 2013 at 4:29 am |
  19. Markus H

    Bob, that's not who God is at all. He loves you, he loves what and who he's made and he loves it when people are freed.

    January 25, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • End Religion

      Markus, in case you missed the memo, your bible is a fraud, your god and his only be-rotten son Fleebus never existed.

      January 25, 2013 at 5:33 am |
    • Steve

      Proof that they didn't and then I will believe you, or else you're just as as bad as you accuse us of being, making a statement with noting to back it up. And b y the way, there is evidence.

      January 27, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • fintastic

      Where's that evidence Steve?....... We're waiting.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • fintastic

      And by the way, if you're making the claim something exists, you are the one who needs to provide the evidence, not the other way around. /..... I could just as well ask you to provide evidence that leprechauns don't exist.

      Get it??

      January 28, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  20. Bob

    Christians: We freed them from slavery !! Wippe we are such good people that believe in a loving old man in the sky!

    Christians: NOW THINK THE WAY WE TELL YOU, Or you will be going to HELL, a place of eternal suffering!!!

    January 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Charlie

      Bob, Bob, Bob, BobBobBob, hate'em when their bad, hate'em when their good, hate'em, hate'em hate'em like a good atheist would. Are you a good example of a religious free society. Such ,ove and kindness I see. So, why are you different...rally different than a religious person. Oh, you hate for the RIGHT reason? Hahahaha. Man is man.

      January 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • fintastic

      You're twisting that around Charlie..... the hate comes from bible with the threat of eternal damnation... .. so loving, so kind.

      January 28, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • DaTruth

      Religious freedom is what let to things like mormonism and scientology to be created. Religion is a joke. Its nothing more than social control for the weak and feeble. Spend some of your precious time on this planet actually learning about this wonderous universe we live in. Explore, research, and study. Better your species. Sitting there believing mythical stories about fake people only makes us dumber. Simple humans enjoy simple answers. You can't handle the fact that our exsistence, and life in general, is a meaningless coincidence which undoubetdy occurs in billions of other places across our universe. We are not alone and we are not special. All life starts and stops. Its the way of the universe. To think that one species was "created" and recieve "eternal life" for thinking a certain way is baseless, irrational, and ignorant beyond words. The compounds in our bodies will be recycled into the universe and used to create new life. You will always exsist, you just won't always be alive. Accept it. Move on.

      February 9, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      Darn you, DaTruth. You blew my hypothesis that any moniker with "truth" in it is invariably not. Oh well, back to the drawing board with my next hypothesis!

      February 9, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
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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.