Ministry Team 2019: We Didn’t Go Alone
by Justin Hadley, Covenant OPC, Sinking Spring, PA (October 2019)
Justin was a member of the team organized by Rev. Tom Church (Immanuel OPC, Bellmawr, NJ) and his son, Rev. Aijalon Church (Covenant OPC, Sinking Spring, PA), that served as a Ministry Team for a week at the Boardwalk Chapel in August 2019.
Maybe sharing your faith is easy for you, maybe not so much. Maybe you’re anxious, or need practice. Maybe you have a gift you don't yet realize you have. I, for one, tend to be an anxious conversation starter. I had a great time in seminary, and had meaningful conversations there, but street evangelism was not something I had experience with nor was sure I'd do well. I was nervous about doing something new, but I was also really excited.
Spending a week at the Boardwalk Chapel was a great time of being blessed and being a blessing. We received training from the staff and participated in evangelism. Furthermore, it was a delight to get to know the staff - find out where they were from, how they got there, and about their experiences at the Boardwalk Chapel. I even got to know people from my own church better. I was able to meet those from other parts of Christ's body: volunteers, staff ,and random passersby who encouraged us in our ministry.
The staff spent time instructing us in evangelism and apologetics. During one exercise, one of the experienced team chaperones (I won't call him old) asked a question that it turned out we were to be asked later the same day. He asked, "Why should I trust the Bible when there are so many versions?" Without skipping a beat, one of the youth on my team simply replied, "Because they all agree on the Gospel." It wouldn't be the last time I would see our church’s youth able to respond intelligently due to the time they spent at the Chapel. I saw the future generation growing in its faith. That was a really beautiful thing to see.
Each evening, we would participate in evangelism on the boardwalk. We saw the emptiness of a world without Christ, as well its deep need for the things of the Gospel. We learned how to defend our faith by spending those many nights sharing it. We met people of many different backgrounds, including many who claimed Christ but didn't know him. Some surprised us. After speaking with a group of lapsed Catholics who hurried off to a store across from us, two of the children in that group came to us to hear the Gospel. There is a real thirst for the light of the Gospel in our dark world. Spending time on the boardwalk this summer, I saw a lot of it firsthand.
One recurring theme I noticed on our nights on the boardwalk was, "I hope I'm good enough" to get into heaven. The lack of certainty due to relying on their own efforts and a best guess was heartbreaking to see. We were able to share with a lot of people that there is one who is good enough.
We met a Catholic man who, like many others, hoped to get into heaven, but not understanding or knowing if Christ is sufficient. We had a good conversation and shared with him how Christ is sufficient and the nature of the Gospel. He admitted we had left him with a lot to think about. No effort is wasted and nothing returns void. I pray for him, knowing that it does not rest in my hands or on that one moment that we met. You never know how God is using you in the lives of others. You do know he is using those moments even now, away from your eyes. What we did mattered, still matters, and always will.
After all this, do I still think of things I could have said? Certainly I do. Whether I said "the right thing" or not, I rest in knowing it is God who does the work and uses all things. He can use a crucifixion to conquer sin and death. He certainly has, and will, use the time I spent at the Boardwalk Chapel not just in my life but in the lives of those to whom we spoke.
It was an incredible learning experience, one that left me in awe of our God.
We saw some fruit. There's much more we haven't seen that God is doing even now. Sharing my faith together with other believers, I could really feel the unity we have in the Gospel. We all also saw the blessing it is to know Christ and to make him known. I still think about what God is doing in the lives of those we reached, and those who served with us. I still think of what God may be doing in the lives of those to whom we witnessed. We didn't go alone onto the boardwalk on those evenings, neither do we go alone in anything we do. God calls us and equip us to the tasks he has given us. In all of it I take great joy in knowing that God is at work using the things that happened in his name and to his glory.