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Buffalo, NY – Sunday, August 20, 2006
At first glance it would seem that Buffalo epitomizes the hold that the evil one has on the whole earth. Dilapidated buildings, empty factories sighing in the heavy, gray shroud, remembering a time when steamships bustled up and down the Erie Canal, transporting steel and other cargo produced by hardworking and faithful men laboring to support their families and build up their country.
As you ascend the skyway that lifts you up to behold the city from its perimeter, a large billboard assaults all your senses reading, “DIVORCE” with some slick lawyer’s credentials. The once highly esteemed covenant of marriage is trodden underfoot so easily by the slick tongue of people making their living off of people’s broken lives, leaving the ancient boundaries by the wayside.
Soon another one is there, “IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO FUN,” with a picture of a contorted woman in front of a slot machine. It is supposed to entice you to go and shoot the last vestiges of any human dignity you may have left, resigning yourself to the sad reality that that is all there is anyway. FUN? These and others are vultures swooping in on the decaying body of a once thriving city, picking any remaining flesh that could still possibly be left on its bones.
We were certain there would be folks in that city that were still hanging on to what is precious. We went in in search of them. We had a really nice spot in a park on Elmwood Avenue. We set up the Open Forum tent, and the band played with dancing and a nice booth of refreshments.
We met so many people there I can’t even begin to tell you about them all. There was a circle playing hacky-sack all day long. Then there were some people playing music along with us. Many groups of students flocked by and flooded through the buses for mini tours. One young man spilled his cup of hibiscus tea on the bus. He felt so bad. We cleaned it up and kept assuring him it was okay. He just couldn’t believe it. Elisheva asked him whether he ever felt as if he messed things up. “That is the story of my life,” he replied. She told him about a place where people mess up, but forgiveness is a way of life. He could hardly believe it, and it brought him great hope.
A man pulled up on his bicycle in the end, and told us he had heard a lot of gossip about us. He asked about the issues he had heard about, and we were able to dispel with living evidence of what we stand on. He told us that he realized that he couldn’t say anything or even think anything about us, having never spoken to us himself. So he decided to come check it out for himself. We really appreciated him for being a man who is led by his heart and his conscience. That is what we want to strengthen in people.
We had so many deep and meaningful conversations with people. So many had lived in Buffalo their whole lives and saw the condition of the city, but did not allow themselves to become hardened. They lived in a hope that caused them to make the most of their circumstances rather than becoming embittered by them. When all was said and done, two people ended up coming home with us. We were so very thankful that we went to Buffalo and hope to have an expression of our life there soon.
More coming soon!!!