By Chris Hoisington
A few months ago I was able to connect with Zenzo Matoga. He is the director of Boston night of Worship. BNOW is an annual night of prayer and song that takes place inside Boston College’s basketball arena. Many folks attend this event well into the thousands. He shared with me how the whole thing got started, and how God used him to make this event a reality. Zenzo and I were connecting because I too have a desire to go into other cities, to serve and inspire the people living there.
I shared with Zenzo different stories of how I and many of my friends have seen lives changed right here on the streets of Buffalo. I told him that I want to go to other places like Boston, and spend not just one but multiple nights reaching there city as well. Working alongside their churches to do prayer walks and outreach projects. He was open to the idea and shared how BNOW is trying to become more than just nights of prayer and song. They want to take the event ‘to the streets ‘this year, so to speak. It was a perfectly fitted conversation and we inspired each other.
One thing Zenzo said that got me thinking was when he shared that during BNOW over 100 worship leaders gather on one stage to sing and pray. He spoke of the unity that is taking place in Boston, and it got me thinking about Buffalo. I would love for something similar to take place in our hometown. If you have spent time in downtown Buffalo one thing you realize is that the area is not so much dead as it is disappointed, we are not the city we hoped to become. When you walk the streets it tends to feel lonely and empty, almost like a ghost town haunted by the ghosts of the past. I feel like God is going to use this weak city to lead the strong, this forgotten city that time has left behind. I know a lot of pastors in our area are coming together to partnership, but what about the worshippers of song and prayer? When will we start living the songs and prayers we are singing and writing together?
My prayer is not for more events calling unity to happen, as much as to start living that community of worship that we sing and talk so much about. I pray for a time when all of us will pray and seek God together, to find out how He would use us to do a unique work in our city. I’m not speaking anything new but a word that echoes in every worshippers head and heart all over WNY. It’s time worshippers for us to re-member one another in our hearts and minds. It’s time for us to use our gifts of song and prayer together as one. To hopefully fix, with God’s help the dis-membered community of worshippers in our hometown. We all are one membership in Christ! Let’s do as N.T. Wright says, “Invite listeners into a new world, and encourage them to see there ordinary world from now on through this lens.” People often ask me why I don’t move to Nashville to further my musical career. Friends who know me well hear my reply…because God is starting a new thing in Buffalo and I want to be part of it! I’m holding out for what I hear whispered to me every time I lead worship in downtown Buffalo and other parts of Western New York. I feel like that whisper is the Holy Spirit telling me to hold on and be strong! I hear “Start becoming the answer to your prayers and call the worshippers together, that I may strengthen the song in all your hearts and that I may use you as one voice to wash away the brokenness of this city.”
Stay tuned for worship comm-unity part 2 to find out how we as worshippers of prayer and song can come together in the days ahead.
Chris Hoisington serves as worship leader for Brothers McClurg (formerly Relevant Worship) and is also involved in ministry at local churches including Lafayette Presbyterian Church in Buffalo’s Elmwood Village.