The very first Open-air Preaching Conference at the Jersey Shore, hosted by the Boardwalk Chapel and led by Rev. Al Baker and Dr. Henry Krabbendam was held over Memorial Day weekend. Through a combination of prayer, teaching, and application, the Spirit moved mightily on the Wildwood Boardwalk.
Each morning of the conference, attendees started off with one hour of prayer, pouring their hearts out to God. The oldest and the youngest, with 50 years between them, learned how to pray out loud for extended periods of time. They pleaded for opportunities to share the Gospel, for open hearts and minds, and for inquisitiveness. They prayed the promises of God from His Word and asked Him to move through us. This hour of prayer soon stretched to start earlier and last longer as they sought God’s face together.
After the prayer, the attendees learned. They learned the importance of discipleship and the power of discipleship. They learned the threefold gospel with an emphasis on one of the most forgotten elements – regeneration of the heart. Dr. Krabbendam taught them how to witness to people about the three problems of the unsaved – a wicked heart, a sewage past, and a poisonous life. They learned tract and questionnaire evangelism and tactics for street preaching.
After the teaching, attendees were excited to apply their learning, going out on the boardwalk and preaching. Even through the setbacks of rainy weather and Boardwalk police asking us to not use microphones, they went out boldly, bolstered by prayer and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit. I spoke with a younger attendee, John Calvin Shaw, from Georgia. At nineteen years old, he was nervous for his first time preaching, but as he spoke for the first time, his nerves were swept away as he spoke. “I felt the Spirit of God speaking through me,” John Calvin said. Every attendee was given a chance to preach, and many of them ‘broke the sound barrier,’ preaching the Word of God for the very first time. Other, more seasoned preachers also brought the Word, honing their skills.
The prayer for souls was not ignored by God. He heard and granted our requests. Over 1000 people were exposed to the gospel through preaching and evangelism, and over 20 people prayed to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior. John Calvin said, “It was almost like fish jumping into the boat. People were just hungry for Christ.” The preaching was not without opposition and mockery, but almost as often, Christian people walking past encouraged them in their work. The biggest highlight of the conference was the last hour, where people shared testimonies of God working through their evangelism. We heard stories of individuals, couples, and even groups of three coming to Christ. The greatest joy of that day was hearing that one attendee, Tony Lewis Thomas, had been saved as a result of Dr. Krabbendam’s teaching. For the first time, he understood the gospel, and felt his heart of stone excised and replaced with a heart of flesh.
Please pray for Tony and the 20 others who understood and believed the gospel this weekend. Pray that the gospel seed would have fallen on good soil, that they would seek out churches, and that the Chapel could continue to help these new converts. Give praise and thanks to the Lord for his redeeming work, and pray that this conference would be able to happen next year, and that God would continue to train up evangelists to witness to God’s goodness not only here on the Jersey Shore, but around the country.