Beginning 2020 with Passion

Over winter break, I was given the opportunity to attend Passion Conference 2020, a gathering of Christians ages 18-25, in Atlanta, Georgia. It was the trip of a lifetime, allowing me to meet new people, experience a new environment, and come into closer contact with my faith than I had been in quite some time.

We left at 5 a.m. on Dec. 30. My group had decided we were going to pull an all-nighter, figuring that since we would be enduring a 13-hour drive in a van, we could catch up on sleep then.

Here enters the first challenge of the trip. I am 6 feet, 2 inches tall. I was stuffed into a cramped 15-passenger van with 12 other people. By hour four, I couldn’t feel my knees, and by hour eight, I was having trouble walking.

But the pain and boredom were completely worth it once we laid eyes on Mercedes-Benz Stadium! The home of the Atlanta Falcons, and the location of Passion 2020, was truly a sight to behold.

Seating close to 80,000 people, with fan-friendly concession prices and parking lots easy to access and not far from the building, it was a great choice of venue for the conference.

Did I already mention that the stadium could seat close to 80,000 people? Because it did!

And Passion 2020 was a sold-out event. Nearly every seat in the building was filled with people eager to be filled with the spirit and come into connection with their faith. It was fantastic to see, and breathtaking to be a part of.

The lineup was just as great. Christian music staples like Crowder, Passion band, and Hillsong UNITED topped the marquee but were supported by acts such as Elevation Worship, Sean Curran, and a rap medley featuring Tedashi, Lecrae, Trip Lee, and Andy Mineo.

The jump in energy was enough to shock you, but it was an experience I’m glad to have witnessed and been a part of.

The lineup of great acts didn’t stop at the musical performers, however. Messages were given by some pretty popular names.

Of course, there were sermons given by Louie Giglio, the founder of Passion Conference, and Christine Caine, one of the loudest and best speakers I’ve ever heard. There were also messages given by Tim Tebow and Sadie Robertson, both of whom gave fantastic messages that resonated better with me than those given by some of the more established pastors.

All of this pales in comparison to the highlight of the entire event.

The first night of Passion 2020 started on Dec. 31. There was a sermon given, music, and worship, a really amazing ceremony during which a flame that had been transported from Jerusalem, Israel, all the way to Atlanta, was put on display.

Then, finally, the new year rolled in. While the crowd was led in worship by Hillsong UNITED, 2019 came to a close and 2020 was ushered in. Fireworks exploded above the stadium, and it was simultaneously a fantastic end to 2019 and a wonderful beginning to 202

Thinking About Suicide Prevention Week

This week (Sept. 9-13) is National Suicide Prevention Week, and as it comes to a close, I look back on it and what it means for me, as well as for everyone whose lives have been affected by suicide.

For context on why this is such an important week in our nation, suicide is the 10thleading cause of death in the U.S.; there are approximately 129 suicides every day, and in 2017, that amounted to 14 suicides per 100,000 people, according to

Suicide is a public health problem that has contributed to the U.S. life expectancy being lowered for three years in a row, according to the Smithsonian.

I have lost people very close to me because of this. It is because of these tragedies that I plan to become a clinical social worker, working in suicide prevention and serving as a mental health counselor for depression and anxiety.

Through National Suicide Prevention Week, this week, our nation sets aside just a little bit of time to acknowledge those who did not see a better way. Our job, in turn, is to work to find better ways to reach these people, provide them with counseling, resources, and treatment that can help them help themselves.

At Texas A&M University, this amounted to the “Not Another Aggie” Suicide Prevention Walk. At this event, there were fifteen resource booths, a candle light vigil was held for loved ones who had passed, and Aggies walked around campus so that anyone who might be struggling could see how many people really do care about them and are willing to help them find ways to get help.

It was truly an awe-inspiring event for me to be a part of.

If anyone is struggling, or feeling like there is no other way out, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Never be afraid to reach out for help.