Looking back on the ministry of the Boardwalk Chapel in Wildwood, NJ, for the past several years, it is clear that the Lord has blessed us with spiritual and physical growth in several key areas. Here are a few illustrations in reviewing the work that was accomplished in 2016.
The Chapel staff numbered 25 full time summer residents under the discipleship of house parents, Rev. Cal and Edie Cummings from Japan, with additional staff assisting on a part-time or year-round basis. These staff leaders and volunteers were given their primary training on evangelism from Dr. Henry Krabbendam in Uganda and on apologetics from Director James Zozzaro. At the end of the summer, special training was given by Elder Al Baker from the PCA and Dan Wilson from the Student Outreach of Harvest USA. With that large number of staff who were spiritually and mentally equipped for outreach, the Lord allowed us to reach a greater number of people in Wildwood throughout the season.
In addition, the Lord led our staff to expand the evangelistic efforts in several exciting ways:
The Presbytery of New Jersey, which oversees the work of the Boardwalk Chapel, also began planning for future expansion. The opportunities to serve in Wildwood are truly endless, but the ministry is currently hindered by a lack of sufficient manpower and the lack of funds to adequately repair the dilapidated housing for summer staff and weekly teams. Thus, the Chapel Committee is seeking to address these issues by obtaining a better staff dormitory and by renovating the Chapel apartments for visiting churches, ministers, and evangelists, hoping to complete all renovations by the Chapel's 75th Anniversary if the Lord wills.
In the meantime, the Lord is leading us to expand the ministry as best we can until the buildings are renovated to accommodate additional people. For example, instead of having one primary evangelism coordinator and an assistant, the Director plans to assign three evangelism coordinators to oversee training, discipleship, and outreach in 2017. This will allow the Chapel staff to continue the newer evangelism initiatives that were begun last year without detracting from the other ministry aspects.
In other ways, the Chapel plans continue as scheduled. The summer leaders and volunteer staff for the areas of evangelism, music, drama, domestic operations, and audio-visuals will be preparing to arrive in late spring to begin programs in mid-June. The summer calendar continues to be tweaked and revisited as evangelism teachers, weekly church groups, visiting musicians, and other ministry assistants are locked in for the spring and summer. By the end of winter, the Chapel Director and Maintenance Coordinator will also prepare a plan for the spring work that will need to be accomplished before the season begins over Memorial Day weekend.
The Lord has truly and greatly blessed the work of the Boardwalk Chapel in all its years of ministry. One key reminder that encourages our staff to continue strong in service is that our work is not our own but the Lord's and, by extension, an effort of the worldwide Church. The staff that come to serve here do not come of their own accord, but are sent by the Lord from their home churches and families to do His work for the growth of the Kingdom. When staff proclaim the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to tourists and workers in Wildwood during the summer, they do so with the hope that new believers will return to their own communities to grow within their own local churches. None of our staff's efforts over the summer are individualized attempts but supported by the faithful prayers and generous actions of brothers and sisters across the nation.
The ministry of the Boardwalk Chapel, as an extension of the evangelistic work done by the global Church, is overseen by God our Father, through the power of His Spirit, and ultimately for the glory and praise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thus as we look back on 2016 and look forward to what 2017 holds, we are thankful for God’s continued and steadfast faithfulness to us and are assured that as we remain devoted to serving Jesus, He will keep working through us to build His Church triumphant!