FARGO – The founders of local gospel group Organized Soundz say young people today want evidence that God is real and keeps his promises. And they have it in hand.
“Just you here and living—you are evidence of God’s promise,” says Bewill Smith, worship leader and recording artist. “We want to remind people of that, even if they don’t believe in God.”
It’s a message more people need to know, he says—especially Millennials and those of Generation Z. “A lot of people are giving up, but we want to bring back this message of hope: ‘God’s still got you. And God’s promises for you never change.’”
Too many people are living life alone, he says, but he wants them to know: “You’re here for a reason.” In Scripture, it says, “I knew you before you were conceived and in your mother’s womb,” he reminds. “We’re not just here by accident.”
This is the message he and his ministry partner, Titus Duncan, will bring to the Sanctuary Events Center Sunday, Oct. 30, at their next gospel music and message event, “Evidence.”
But they don’t want to just address individuals, Smith says. They hope to make a community-wide impact by raising awareness of modern-day concerns like mental health and hunger. “We see this (event) as a yardstick to use through the grace of God.”
“It’s going to be a night of total worship,” he says, with several guest artists, including one from Ghana, West Africa. “We want to reach out to different churches and worship leaders. Our arms are open,” he adds, noting that they’re also seeking sponsors to help fund the events and ministry, to “jump in and help.”
The event will also focus on mental health with the help of representatives of At-Peace Integrative Mental Health Clinic in Fargo.
When he’s not farming…
Will Boduo, 35, a native of Liberia, West Africa, pastor and farmer, has been attending Organized Soundz events since the group’s official launch in 2019.
The music and messages resonate with Boduo, who grew up the son of a preacher. “It was something I was running from,” he says of Christianity. “I didn’t like the religious part of it.”
In time, he saw his generation yearning for God’s word. “They couldn’t really hear from our forefathers, who are ‘old school,’” he says. “I knew I needed to get myself ready to be a role model, to step up and be a leader.”
Farming, Boduo says, gives him time to meditate and talk to God, while tending his vegetable crops and chickens. But he enjoys being renewed also through Organized Soundz events, led in part by his “iron sharpens iron” friend, Duncan. “He’s a great guy who thinks outside the box and doesn’t look at anything as an obstacle.”
The two attend the same multicultural Christian church on South University Drive, Light City Church, just north of Courts Plus; a community that incorporates “bits and pieces of the traditional African church,” Duncan says. Recently renamed from Christ International Assembly, it serves as a base for their ministry, but can’t accommodate the larger, community-wide events.
“There are a lot of dreamers out there with something burning in them, but they’ve been in an environment where folks put them down,” Boduo says, likening these young, passionate people to “lions in a cage.” Organized Soundz wants to reach them, he adds, and empower them through God’s grace.
Duncan says the idea for the ministry began when he and Smith shared their common aspirations to use their talents of leadership in music, worship and marketing for a greater good.
He moved to Fargo the end of 2012, from Philadelphia, on New Year’s Day during a snowstorm. “It was a ‘welcome to Fargo’ type of thing,” he says, noting that he initially came for college, with his family joining him.
Duncan was attracted to the quiet of a smaller city, and was struck by the large presence of elderly people in the area. “It showed me that there was a longer life expectancy here,” he says, than in previous cities he’s experienced.
Fargo also wasn’t as established, and he found a future here for chasing dreams. “It was a whole different thing living in a city and watching it grow. It’s like you’re living in a history book, instead of just reading about history,” he says, noting that Fargo has doubled in size since his arrival. “A lot of opportunity has come with that growth.”
Like Boduo, he’s also a “pastor’s kid” whose faith was tested in young adulthood. And he remembers the moment things changed. Duncan was approaching his third year of college as a business administration major with a marketing minor when, on his way to a job interview, he heard a gospel song on the radio that grabbed his heart.
“When I got to the appointment, I turned off the car, and just started crying for five or ten minutes,” he says. Sensing God’s abiding presence, he felt “a release,” as if “a weight left my shoulders,” and cried out, “I’ve tried doing everything on my own. Now I’m letting you have everything.”
Entering “one of the worst interviews,” he left with a job offer. “I think they felt bad for me,” he chuckles, noting the obvious dried tears on his face. From there, it was a full-on dive into the word of God, and entering a journey that continues on to this day.
Smith experienced a similar faith awakening after the death of his mother in 2012, he says, and “seeing her in a box.” So, by the time the two shared their ideas for a ministry, both were ready.
Creating a new space for worship
Their upcoming “Evidence” event is billed as “a worship event to bring together believers to experience the mercy and favor of God.”
“We bring well-known gospel artists from different cities here every one or two months,” Duncan says, along with worship leaders, in partnership with the local community.
“It’s been a fun process, and we feel God’s presence in so many pieces,” he says, from finding guest musicians, to landing the right “neutral” venue spaces—everything from coffee shops and lobbies to warehouses and events centers. The gatherings have drawn from 50 to nearly 400.
“Fargo’s growing, and a lot of events are happening around town. And of course, many churches also have their worship nights,” Duncan says. “But when it comes to gospel in this city, there’s not a lot that goes on. So, we’re trying to cut out a piece of that.”
The “Evidence” event is for “anyone looking for God—even if they don’t really know they are,” he says, in a place where questions can be asked outside of regular church, with music as a base.
“For me, music is a universal language,” Duncan says. “You don’t have to learn or know a specific language to fully understand it. It translates well, especially in a spiritual space.”
Smith says the Fargo community has been “a good place, a place that keeps me on track,” adding, “I see my dreams and aspirations coming to pass,” and desires the same for others.
“As an artist, a carrier of the Gospel through music, I won’t feel satisfied if I don’t make a significant impact in my community,” he adds. “We want other people to feel that they’re being blessed just by the word of God, and to share that with others.”
IF YOU GO:
What: Organized Soundz “Evidence” gospel music and message event
When: 5 to 8:30 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 30
Where: The Sanctuary Events Center, 670 4th Ave. N., Fargo
Contact: For tickets, at $40 to $60, visit https://qrco.de/bdOZ46?trackSharing=1 ; for sponsoring opportunities, call 701-561-6205
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Oct. 14, 2022.]