Saturday, March 21, 2009

Greater Things Have Yet To Come, Greater Things Are Still To Be Done In This City

Went on a prayer walk with Relevant Worship Ministries in downtown Buffalo tonight, the first one I've been on in a while... probably since winter break, I don't even know why I stopped going... I guess school and life and stuff got in my way, scheduling, you know? I know, that's not the best excuse, but it happens sometimes. I'm so glad I went though, I almost forgot how much I love this city, and how God's working in it. Seriously, God just showed me so much about this city that I already knew, but now I see it in a new light, it's hard to explain, I guess it's more a renewal of my inner feelings about Buffalo. I always find myself come February and into March, saying "I freaking hate Buffalo!", not because I actually hate this city, but because I really don't take too well to cold weather, and it wears on me over the course of 5-6 months... frankly I just get sick of it. That's really no excuse to say I hate Buffalo, because honestly, I love it, I love this city and it blows my mind.
I've been sitting around waiting for spring, it almost becomes an excuse, no, it has become an excuse, mentally I'm telling myself "I'll do it when the temperature gets above 50". It could be anything, spending more time with God, dressing cute, visiting people, (like ones who live "all the way on the other side of campus") getting to the bank on a Friday after I get my paycheck instead of the warmest day of the next week, complaining about how poor I am in between. Seriously, it's like this disease I get every year. On one hand, I can say at least I'm hopeful, I guess a lot of people go through this and sort of fall into depression for half the year, but I at least no that spring will come, and that keeps me going, that gets me through, but that's not enough, like I said this shouldn't be an excuse.
The prayer walk amazed me though, no, actually God amazed me, and the crazy part is, I didn't expect him too, at least not there. I mean, God definitely always shows up at prayer walks, which is amazing in itself, but I guess they've become sort of predictable. Go to the same places, pray for the same things, hope to catch a glimmer of what seems like snail-pace progress. Honestly there's been times where I've wanted to say "God! What are you waiting for? Just revive this place already!". What I failed to see in these moments is that he is.
We focused our prayers this evening on this upcoming summer's outreach at Thursday in the Square (for those of you that are not familiar with Buffalo, this is a weekly free summer concert series, that has become another excuse to get drunk for most of this city) Relevant did some pretty amazing things there last summer and though I did not actively participate in it, I had such a passion for what they were doing and prayed for it often. I can't wait to see what God's going to do this year.
One of the most amazing parts of the prayer walk was when a man approached our group mid-prayer and told us he just wanted to share a testimony with us about how God is real. He shared an incredible story with us that really encouraged us. He told us how he was sleeping in an abandoned, boarded up house one night, and that everyone he was with had left. He was completely drunk, passed out in a tiny room on the third floor of this house when someone set fire to the house, thinking he was someone else. He explained that for some reason he woke up, even though he was so drunk he doesn't see how that was even possible. When he awoke he was trapped in the room, flames were surrounding him on all sides as he tried to make it to the door, all different parts of his body were catching on fire. He told us he stood in the middle of the room and tried to inhale the smoke so that he wouldn't die from being burned to death. He said he knew from growing up and what his parents and the church had taught him that God was real, that Jesus died and rose on the third day and that Jesus died for him. He said he told God that in these moments, told God that he believed and that if it was his will for him to die in this fire, so be it, but that he did not want to die, he did not want to die with people thinking he was a drunk and a crackhead in an abandoned house in Buffalo. He said that the fire around him was alive, and there was not even enough space to swing your leg in the small area he was standing in, but that in that space, there was no flames. He told us he had been in the inferno for about twenty minutes and that suddenly after praying, he saw a hole in the wall, just big enough for a person to crawl through, a hole that had definitely not been there before. He compared it to the burning bush, saying that the fire was all around it, but there was no fire in this hole, that he jumped through the hole and landed on concrete without breaking a bone. He gave all the credit to God, and told us he just had to come talk to us and glorify him. It was beautiful, and it hit me. I had been asking God to 'show up' but he's been showing up. I don't know what I was expecting, some sort of 'lightning bolt' to hit this city making everyone and their mother a Christian, closing all the bars, and filling all the abandoned buildings, but God's been working in a million smaller ways, all over the place. I mean if God is working through a burning crackden, where else is he working? I bet if we just looked, we could find a million of these stories all over Western New York!
I love that through this ministry we truly are a unified body. I love that we have conservatives and charismatics and high schoolers and grown adults, people from all walks of life coming together to pray for our city. We don't see denominations, we see people that share our love for Jesus and our love for this city. Our prayers encourage and inspire, we lift each other up with our city, often unintentionally. God's really been showing me just how unified we are... seriously, a dozen of us went to Spot Coffee afterward and different people in our group separately knew at least 3 different people in another group of Christians. It was crazy, we all joked "only in Buffalo" and perhaps that's true. Sometimes I feel like I know every other Christian in Buffalo though the few ministries I'm involved in, I'm always finding these weird, random connections, the kind God sets up. My roommate connected with an old friend of hers from a previous college and found out she goes to our church. One of the girls we sat with shared an amazing testimony about how she left school for a semester as a result of God's working in her life. It has dawned on me that God is this automatic bond that brings people together, I already knew this, but it's suddenly become more real to me, like I see him as this glue that holds the body together, overcoming race, class, gender, denomination, political views, age, everything! and he's using that in Buffalo! He's using that to bring us together and change this city!!
I could go on and on, but everything just connects together and falls into place for me here, I can't imagine it happening anywhere else. I can't imagine any other way to find warmth and light in this seemingly endless winters, I can't imagine leaving, at least not forever, I might miss what God's going to do!

Top Image Credit: The Buffalo Alphabet Project - Faces Of Buffalo
Bottom Image: Me :p
For more on Relevant's Ministry, check out their facebook page


Our Wings are Burning said...

That guy was awesome... and I agree about God showing up... I was pleasantly surprised :)


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