It is Time for the Church of WNY to Arise and Shine!
By Revs. Al and Deb Warner on behalf of those who serve the regional church of WNY.
Photo by Julianna Patterson
Earlier this year, International Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke declared “All America Shall Be Saved.” What? Does Bonnke not know the condition of our country, the advance of evil, and the scepter of impending judgment? Or could it be that it is easier for me to recognize the work of the enemy than to celebrate the work of the Father?
Take Buffalo, NY -- our city. Can Buffalo be saved? First, a look back… For fifty years, Buffalo has been in a death dive. Our population has dropped from 580,000 to 260,000.
But God sometimes does His best work in the darkness. Chuck Pierce prophesied the following on May 16, 2009, “You will see Buffalo some way be saved in days ahead instead of being controlled, being an outpost center of hell. It will be one of the most glorious places where the Spirit of God moves, and it will be known all over our nation that Buffalo and the waters of Niagara Falls are a sign of the River of God that has come into Buffalo.”
November 2011, Julie Meyer from International House of Prayer was leading worship at an Eagles Wings’ Conference. She spontaneously sang: “Unity, unity, unity, unity (she repeated this about 20 times), the walls between the races is coming down. It won’t be black, it won’t be white, it will be two becoming one… I’m gonna start to move. I’m gonna start now. I’m gonna start to move in Buffalo. Buffalo, Buffalo… I’m gonna tame this Buffalo. It’s gonna eat right out of my hand. And something greater than just football is gonna be known in Buffalo. Unity, unity, unity, unity and Jesus Christ lifted high.”
Deb and I have been working to connect the regional church since 1997, facilitating dozens of gatherings in which we declared 'revival' and 'transformation' over the Buffalo/Niagara region. We have brought together regional pastors and intercessors to intercede, worship, pray Scripture, as well as to steward these prophetic words.
The genesis of Good Friday Together was four local church pastors who went to Israel together – Pastor Jerry Gillis (The Chapel), Pastor Roderick Hennings (Zion Dominion Global Ministries), Pastor Pat Jones (Eastern Hills Wesleyan), and Pastor Marty Macdonald (City Church). Since returning home, they have developed friendships, golfed together, and began exchanging pulpits each December. They wanted to do something much larger and decided that Good Friday was the time to do it. They approached us about helping to promote a region-wide Good Friday service.
Our prayers were answered and history was made at Good Friday Together when 11,000+ people gathered in the First Niagara Center to lift high one name – Jesus Christ! No famous speakers or singers flown in, just some of the best and brightest from our region. Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, city, suburbs, male, female, young, old -- it looked like the Body of Christ. Each speaker and singer introduced his or her flavor to the melting pot, and the flavor was HEAVENLY!
For a three minute video recap:
Even though this was a unity event, the decision was made to have an altar call. Why? Because Jesus promises “May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.” (John 17:23b) More than 150 people came to faith in Christ!
In addition, a significant offering was taken to bless the city in the areas of sustainable housing, education, health care, and teen mentoring. The Church came together to “seek the peace and prosperity of the city…” (Jer. 29:7) The offering is our gift that will keep on giving.
What was the secular media’s reporting of our event? Overwhelmingly positive!
Buffalo News (newspaper)
Christians gather en masse
First Niagara Center was transformed into a cathedral Friday...
We estimate that at least 200 churches participated. In previous years, each of the churches would have had its own Good Friday service. If they averaged 50 people, 10,000 people would have been in separate worship services. But television cameras came to witness this watershed moment because we gathered together. Once again, we proved we are Better TOGETHER.
Earlier we mentioned the number of people who received Christ that night. Even better, words of testimony continue to pour in as to the number of regional churches that have experienced an increase in people accepting Christ in their services. As one pastor wrote, “Crazy good- on Easter Sunday we had 53
people profess Christ for the first time.” That same Sunday, two more churches recorded 10 first time professions, while a church that was unable to participate in Good Friday Together had 8. The River of God has risen, and all ships are being lifted. We believe a shift happened in the heavenlies, a dark cloud was lifted, and Unity, Unity, Unity is preparing the way for evangelism.
So what’s next? Did we witness a tipping point for our city? It would seem so. The spirit of hope is taking root, and the service continues to generate quite a buzz. One Common Council Member told me that this event impacted him both personally and professionally. Visually witnessing the Arena filled with fellow believers filled him with new courage to lead boldly in his office.
Welcome to the resurrection of a city. Dust off those prophetic words. Let God renew your hope and vision. In this season of acceleration, what was impossible a short time ago may be possible now. It is time for the Church of WNY to arise and shine!
ALL AMERICA SHALL BE SAVED!
"So there was great joy in that city." Acts 8:8
Revs. Al & Deb Warner are the founders and directors of Set Free Inc. Set Free is a networking ministry connecting business, governmental and church leaders for a Nehemiah-like rebuilding and transformation of our city. Al and Deb have over 30 years experience pastoring local churches and working as missionaries in Hong Kong. In 1997, God laid a burden on their heart to bring the regional church of greater Buffalo, NY, together. As they obeyed, God birthed their ministry, Set Free Inc. The Warners have led multiple prayer and training events over the years, including National Day of Prayer.
To contact them, email: firstname.lastname@example.org