Your labor for Christ is not in vain.
Work at the Chapel is exciting, rewarding, and fun. But the schedule can be tiring. Staff spend the afternoon absorbed in helpful evangelism and apologetics training, or preparing for the nightly programs. Evenings until late at night are occupied with programs and evangelism. It’s a fun but very busy schedule. When we talk about weariness, we’re not saying it’s an unhappy thing to serve the Lord. It is just a fact that ministry in any capacity is serving, and serving…can be a challenge at times.
How do staff handle the physical and sometimes emotional exhaustion that comes with this type of work? The question was posed to staff by a leader who came to the Chapel with his youth group from Harvest OPC. It’s not just ministry at the Boardwalk Chapel that can be draining. At all times and everywhere, Christ calls us to serve him. And service is sometimes exhausting. It’s the nature of serving.
The first way? Prayer. Prayer is integral to the ministry. Just as any believer needs to have close communion with God, so also the believing Chapel staff member who gives his days to the ministry here and whose nights may be long and full of rejection.
The second item is relationships. “Relationships are huge,” said Tom Pfiel, an evangelism leader on staff. “Chris Byrd is like the bigger brother I never had, and [Jim Zozzaro] is like the father I’ve never had. I’d say that a lot of the relationships built on staff, they continue throughout the year. This is a body.”
Matt Murmylo, our program director, says, “The Lord is gracious and wise when he designates the Sabbath day for us. I find each Monday I feel very refreshed, and I am very thankful that God has given us a day where we are required to rest, to some extent. However you take it, it is a special day. And that applies, not just at the Chapel, but to every Christian everywhere. God was very wise, very loving, to give us that day.”
Prayer, relationships, and the Lord’s Day. These are a few of God’s gifts to us that help when we are weary. On staff, the atmosphere of prayer, the close-knit relationships that form, and the designated day of rest are integral to carrying on in the work. It truly makes our work a joy that we can spend our days immersed in prayer. Working shoulder to shoulder with brothers and sisters. God uses these things to strengthen and encourage us.
Chris Byrd, the Chapel’s evangelism director, shared an uplifting testimony to God’s faithfulness. He saw the goodness of God on display in a special way this past week. “One of the things that the Lord’s really been pressing on my mind and heart is I Corinthians 15:58, which is, ‘Always be steadfast and immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.’ I’ve had more of an awareness that what we do here, the seeds that we sow (every conversation we have, with anyone about the Gospel, sharing the word, speaking of Jesus) regardless of what the response is, we can be confident that the Lord is going to bring fruit from that in that in some way. That is something the Lord’s been impressing on my heart, and encouraged me with. And that was really highlighted for me last night when, during our program, there was a man and his wife with their two young kids. And he shared with me that he said, ‘Oh, we’re believers. This is wonderful, the work you’ve been doing is wonderful.’ And he said, ‘In 2006, I was in front of the Chapel, and someone shared the Gospel with me. I didn’t receive it at the time, but it planted a seed. Five years later I became a Christian.’ And now here he is vacationing with his family for the week, and they pray every morning for missionaries. And he said his son prays every morning for the Boardwalk Chapel. So whoever shared the Gospel with him at the time, just saw someone who didn’t receive the Gospel, didn’t receive the Word. And they didn’t see the immediate fruit. But their labor was not in vain. And God sent him to encourage us, to remind us, that planted a seed, that resulted in faith eventually, five years later.”
Our labor is not in vain. Your labor in Christ is not in vain. Take courage. Take advantage of God’s gifts of prayer, fellowship, and the Lord’s Day. God is using your broken efforts for your good and His glory. Even if you don’t see the fruit of your efforts today, we serve a sovereign God who loves us and is powerful enough to bring about his will.