Crashing Buffalo!

January 14, 2011 in News

IP Partying downtown

By Kyle McCallum

Identity Project celebrated New Year’s Eve in Buffalo, New York, one of the most miserable cities in America according to Reuters (Cleveland took the lead by a wide margin.) We discovered a city surrounded by abandoned factories, quarries and homes. Here, we decided, is church-planting gold.

We met with Jim and KJ Swearingen, seasoned movement organizers, who gave us a vision for reaching non-Christians at the University at Buffalo. They told us, to our surprise, that Buffalo ranks first in the nation in international enrollment. IP has already had some success in outreaching to international students.

Jim is the director of the Buffalo Christian Center (BCC), a huge complex in the middle of downtown that features a pool, skating rink, basketball court, game room and auditorium. He was kind enough to let us party there on New Year’s Eve. Despite some accidents and car break-ins, we had a blast!

Buffalo’s downtown celebration is vastly larger than Akron’s. A popular band that recently opened for Paul McCartney in London played for thousands of people before the New Year’s Ball dropped. Many members of Identity Project were captured on national TV as we partied near the front of the stage.

Logan facing police interrogation

By the time midnight was past, everyone was covered in mud, confetti and silly string. We decided to head back to the BCC for some late-night frivolities. On the way back, Logan Tiller, a recent convert, faced interrogation from police after snapping some cell phone pictures of officers breaking up a drunken brawl. A furious policeman threatened him and demanded he show the pictures he took. As Logan was harassed, Keith took pictures as evidence.

Drama unfolded soon after we returned when One IP member fell and struck her head in the bathroom. The scratch leaked blood all over the floor, which lead to another member fainting in horror. Screams erupted from the felled girl, and women rushed to see what tragedy had taken place. After a chaotic rabble of fear and confusion broke out, someone dialed the ambulance, and it came to whisk away the victims of bad balance. One woman was seen fleeing the scene in terror, and more than one was left in tears. Most of the guys were confused as to the nature of the emergency and spent the rest of the night playing hide and seek in the dark auditorium.

A wounded member of IP is taken out on a gurney

The next morning, everyone woke up to the news that the two girls were fine. The wound was not severe, and the original victim received a staple to cover up the scratch. We also discovered two IP cars had windows shattered, and each was missing a GPS. It’s apparently not worth locking your car doors in Buffalo.

IP, with its shell shocked women, were invited to Jim and KJ’s house for some deep fried wings, ribs and potato skins, which did much to alleviate stress. There, we met some members of Jim and KJ’s Bible study who were intrigued by our interest in church-planting. We met Ayla Torres, a 20-year-old Buffalo State University student, who told us about her love for youth ministry. She said she would love having us come.

After everyone said their goodbyes, we decided we had a great time. The prospect of church planting in Buffalo is worth investigating, and we will continue to pray for open doors.

Ushering in the new year at the Anchor Bar: the restaurant that invented the buffalo wing.

3 responses to Crashing Buffalo!

  1. Excellent article! I like the dramatic writing you added for the story of the women flippin’ out. It was quite the adventure. I have to admit, losing my parents’ GPS put me in a bad mood for the most part of the morning when Craig, Paul, BK, and I had the luxury of taping up the car windows in the pouring rain. However, I felt very appreciative of the food the Swearingens’ provided for us and finding out that UB looks like a huge open door to a new college ministry!!!

  2. Wonderful article, Kyle! Reading it makes me miss Buffalo already. Had to laugh at some of the photos, as well as the slightly dramatized part about the girls beginning 2011 with a bang… I’d say most of us maintained some composure amongst the drama though, no? :p Glad everyone was okay in the end. Also, like Jeff said, lunch at the Swearingen’s the next day was really a treat for me. After the craziness of the previous night, it was just sweet to share a delicious, warm meal with the body in their lovely house. I’m eager to hear more about potentially sending some of us to UB.

  3. Sweet article! Keep us updated.

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