Almost an hour before the doors of the Georgia Dome opened for the second full day of Passion 2012, students started lining up to get the best seats.
Stephen and Anna Buys and Josh and Allison McCaffrey, all from Mississippi College in Jackson, Miss., stood near the front of one of the lines, their faces muffled with scarves to keep out the cold. The two couples, who lead a student group at the Christian school, endured the freezing temperatures so they could save spots in one of the front sections for the 30 students with them at the conference.
"We didn't want them to feel like they had to skip the morning community group to get a good seat," Stephen said. "We want them to have the full experience."
The group from Mississippi joined about 42,000 other students from across the country for the annual worship conference led by Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio, who founded Passion in 1997. This year's event is focused on modern-day slavery, with all of the teaching and worship emphasizing the church's obligation to stand against it.
Anna, 25, said she knew slavery still existed but had no idea it was so prevalent.
"It's really nice to be aware and do something about it," she said. "That's why we're all here."
Before the end of the second teaching session on Wednesday, students surpassed the $1 million fundraising goal set by Giglio and his team. All of the money will go to six organizations working to end slavery.
Sarah High, a 19-year-old student at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., said she planned to make ending slavery a priority after learning more about it during the conference's first day.
"It makes me want to go into a career in medicine or social work, something I can do to help people," she said.
Giglio urged the students on Tuesday to let the great need for freedom for the 27 million enslaved people move them to action.
"The enemy is coming full throttle and coming for people," he said. "We need to rise up with equal force to meet this challenge."
The full team of speakers - Giglio, Beth Moore, Frances Chan, John Piper and LaCrae Moore - spent Wednesday's first session reading the book of Ephesians out loud. During the second session, Giglio interviewed four young Christians involved in ministry to victims of sex trafficking or forced labor.
Christina Caine, who co-founded The A21 Campaign, a non-profit organization that works to rehabilitate women rescued out of the sex trade in Greece, told the students that only a small percentage of them would be able to work on the front lines of the fight against slavery. But every one has a role to play, she said.
"The piece that the church brings to this is the power of prayer," she said.
Last year, Caine's organization sent a tweet to its followers, asking them to pray for sex trafficking victims from Ukraine. Three days later, Greek law enforcement agents raided a brothel and rescued 11 Ukrainian women, an unusually high number. When they arrived at the A21 shelter, the women said they had prayed to Allah for months, asking to be rescued. Three days before the raid - the same day A21 sent the tweet asking people to pray - one of the women remembered her grandmother once told her about the God of Europe, whose name was Jesus. The women decided to pray to Jesus to see if he could rescue them, Caine told the crowd.
"They said 'Jesus, if you are real, rescue us from this place,'" Caine recalled as the students started to clap and cheer. "They now know eternal freedom through a relationship with Jesus. Never forget the power of what we bring to the table."