Stirring Up Christians for Evangelism
by Emma Nakhla
member of Calvary OPC, Glenside, PA
The flashy, noisy boardwalk of Wildwood, New Jersey is far from physically dark, but it desperately needs to see the light of the gospel, and the Boardwalk Chapel provides this in such a unique and important way.
The Boardwalk Chapel has just wrapped up another fruitful summer! Over 175 Chapel volunteers representing four presbyteries, approximately eight OP and three PCA Churches from across the country, made up the largest group of participants in the Chapel's history. One church brought a record 40 volunteers for the week!
The Chapel's focus is deeply rooted in evangelism, and its presence on the boardwalk boldly and faithfully tells the truth of the gospel to as many of the lost as the Lord allows. Staff members take turns, Bible in hand, open air preaching to what at times may appear to be falling on deaf ears. But they press on.
One volunteer, Aicha Fitzgerald, put it, “It’s a place that cares so much about the Bible and making sure everyone has an opportunity to hear the gospel.” The Chapel allows the lost to hear the gospel through different forms of evangelism, as it sets itself apart from the worldly attractions.
One of the unique ways the staff evangelizes is by initiating conversations with strangers about the gospel each day. Most people visiting Wildwood are tourists, coming from all over the country—even the world. This allows the staff an amazing opportunity to present the gospel to diverse groups of people. Annaliese Ferguson, a staff member who has been volunteering at the Chapel her entire life, explains, “People come from everywhere, which means you get to talk to so many people with so many different beliefs and share the gospel with them.” Countless conversations have been exchanged between the staff members and strangers, challenging both sides of the conversation. One volunteer, Caleb Smiley, says that he was struck by how open and interested people were in hearing what he had to say. He imagined he would encounter a lot of hostility in this uncomfortable task, but was encouraged to find some people are just looking for answers—exactly what the Chapel is there to provide.
At times, evangelism can be discouraging, especially if we do not see immediate results. But we can trust that the Lord will carry out his good and perfect will, and that he does use our conversations, tracts, and programs, to draw His people to Himself. Our Lord is faithful!
But, by God's grace, at times, He generously gives encouragement. One mother relayed her gratitude in a note: "About a year ago our son was vacationing in Wildwood. His girlfriend was in a store shopping and he was standing outside in the vicinity of the store and the Chapel. A gentleman from the Chapel started a conversation with him and began to witness. That gentleman planted a seed that has flourished and our son told us recently he was saved. We have tried for years to witness to him. My son doesn't remember his name but that gentleman got through to him! Praise Jesus! May God bless that gentleman and the Boardwalk Chapel!"
It's not all about conversations on the boards or open-air preaching. The Chapel has a long-standing tradition of lively evening programs as part of their unique outreach. The staff invests hundreds of hours into preparing and performing every year. Each night the hour-and-a-half long program includes various forms of worship through music, skits, and a brief gospel message. Seeds are planted each summer; some people come to faith in the Lord, and some show great interest in learning more about the gospel. This year was no exception. God is good.
Chris Byrd, the evangelism director at the Boardwalk Chapel is passionate about the importance of evangelism, “One vision of the Chapel is not only sowing the seeds of the gospel, which we are, but also equipping and stirring up Christians for evangelism.” The Boardwalk Chapel is a great training ground for all Christians, helping them in their boldness and ability to share the gospel with others. Aicha Fitzgerald, who has served for consecutive summers, has learned that, “It can be hard to understand what unbelievers think, but the [training at the] Chapel helps you understand where unbelievers are coming from.”
I have talked to many volunteers about their experiences at the Chapel, and all have had only positive things to say about this life-changing, enjoyable, rewarding learning experience. It strengthens and challenges your faith, in its training and practical application. If you are thinking about volunteering at the Chapel, what are you waiting for? Pastor Jim Zozzaro knows, “Without volunteers, the Chapel couldn’t do anything—they are super important!”
The Boardwalk Chapel is already taking volunteers for summer 2022, so now is the time to join the Chapel family.