Spring 2021 Magazine

Ex-NFL player Benjamin Watson leads 'Boston Pray' event seeking unity and justice

Benjamin Watson has long been a man of strong words. He’s also a man of strong actions, and the former NFL tight end showed that again Sunday by organizing “Boston Pray.”

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It was an event to bring together a community for worship, prayer and encouragement as it seeks unity and justice. Hundreds of people from in or around the city gathered in Boston Common, and Watson was one of the speakers.

“The message is really about unity,” he told 7 News Boston, adding, “I just wanted to give the opportunity for people to come together to seek God’s face and His will for our next steps, but also to have community. To have community, to be able to encourage each other, to sing together.”

“[Watson] didn’t come here to say, ‘Look at me.’ He came here to say, ‘Look at God and look at what we can do together,'” said Regina Robinson, one of the demonstrators who attended.

In a social media image distributed to promote the event, Jeremiah 9:23-24 was written at the top. The verses say, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.”

Watson is connected to Boston after being drafted by the New England Patriots in 2004 and playing seven total years there, including his 16th and final NFL season in 2019. He was selected numerous times by his teams as their nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field. Watson’s work in communities has only increased since officially retiring in March.

As the coronavirus pandemic broke out this spring, he stepped up to financially help at-risk churches, and he hosted video chats for FCA and Sports Spectrum to provide inspiration to coaches and athletes.

As racial unrest broke out across the U.S. late last month, Watson quickly spoke up to express his anger but also to urge Christ-followers to be justice warriors while acting distinctly Christlike.

“At all times, in all circumstances, our actions and reactions are vitally important. As Christ-followers, there’s a certain way we need to carry ourselves in the midst of injustice. We have a responsibility to do so. Our primary goal in this life is to bring God glory. That doesn’t mean we don’t address the issues of our day or engage in civic debate. As citizens and members of our specific communities, we should not remove ourselves from the situations that desperately need our attention. It does mean we have a mandate to engage in a way that brings glory to God and ultimately points people toward Him and the things He cares about. We are to do so in a way that is different than those who don’t know Him,” he wrote for us at The Increase.

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