I (Christopher) have lived most of my life in Western New York (WNY). However, I did move out of the region on two occasions. Both of these occasions were to Asbury Theological Seminary for a Master’s and Doctorate degrees. While I was studying there, two different professors made references to Western New York that I will never forget. I had one professor try to help us comprehend the immense nature of God’s love. He said God’s love for us is so great it is like holding a thimble up to Niagara Falls. Pretty awesome thought, isn’t it?
The other professor taught a class devoted to Church History and the Holiness movement. The semester was dedicated to looking at revival seasons, renewal seasons, and great movements of God throughout church history. During one class, someone posed a question to the professor. “If there was to be another great move of God in the United States where do you think it would be?” I thought this was a great question. Here is a man who had dedicated his life to the study of movements of God; I was very interested in his response. My interest turned to shock as he shared his answer. He said, "I am not God and God can do what he wants, but I would think that if there was to be a great revival in the Untied States again it would begin in a small portion of New York that went from Rochester over to Lake Erie and from Lake Ontario south, to the Pennsylvania border. It is a region that refers to itself as Western New York."
You can imagine my surprise during that evening class! He was talking about where I grew up. All I knew at this time was that WNY was referred to a “Rust Belt Region.” It was a region experiencing steady decline. I was told stories of a sign erected by steel workers that said “Last one out of Buffalo, shut off the lights.” I had a number of classmates and a couple of professors try to talk me out of returning to WNY. However, I keep coming back to this class and this professor. He felt like what God did in the Second Great Awakening with people like Charles Finney and many others was something that quite possibly God would do again.
One story known to many in our region is the "Greatest Comeback." It is the story of Frank Reich, now head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, leading the Buffalo Bills to the greatest playoff comeback in NFL history. In some ways WNY is experiencing its "greatest comeback." We see signs of new life all over our region - Medical Campus, Canalside, Outer Harbor, Canelside, etc. These changes have led to a greater quality of life, more jobs, and population growth after years and years of decline.
I am certain God has great plans for this area. (re)Awaken Ministries will continue to partner with God, as He continues His story here in WNY. We hope you will partner with us on this exciting journey. - Christopher