Time and again, we come back empty-handed. We have sown the seed of the Word. Night has fully come. The hour is late. And we go back to the Chapel, close the doors. We thank our God for another night of ministry.
We don’t get to see what God is doing with his Word.
We aren’t entitled to that.
So often, we may have hopeful conversations that…stop there. But does that mean we should despair? “Matt and I ended up having a conversation with a young man who said he was a Protestant, and a young woman who eventually told us that she is a witch,” said one of our staffers. “It lasted maybe ten minutes. We got through the entire Gospel with them. We got to work through all the points of the cobra heart, dung past, poisonous life. We got to the root of the problem. We got to talk about how Christ redeems us. At the end, the young man looked convicted. His eyes were getting wider and wider. I think he was convicted through it. The young woman who said she was a witch ended up taking a Gospel of John back with her, as well as a tract. It’s not someone calling on the name of the Lord, but it’s a seed planted in a very dark, dark area. I’m going to take hope in that.”
God works in his own timing. But he has promised his Word will not go forth void. We can be confident that because of the work that we are doing, God is being glorified. Souls are being drawn unto him. We serve an almighty, all-powerful God who has chosen to use us as his instruments. The work we do at the Chapel is unique. Cold street evangelism is an important skill and testimony, but it is not the only kind of evangelism. More often than not, God uses relationships. We as believers build friendships with unbelievers. Sometimes it is those repeated encounters with God’s Word that God uses to save his sheep. God reinforces momentary conversations on the boardwalk with deeper relationships outside the context of Wildwood. We may plant, another may water. God gives the increase.
Sometimes we have conversations that stick out. Conversations with people we are burdened to pray for long after the moment is past. “I still remember her name,” said Lanie, who came with a youth group this year as well as in 2021. “Her name is Bridget. And we met on my last night, Friday last year. She was the last conversation I had. She was a Catholic, had grown up in the Catholic church, and went to Catholic school. Right off the bat, about five minutes into our conversation, I told her, ‘I feel like if we knew each other, we’d be friends!’ Because we were just having a great time having a conversation. She asked me, she’s like, ‘Well, what if I’m homosexual? Can I go to heaven?’ And so we just had the conversation. And I remember, her mom was kind of trying to drag her away. She said, ‘So you’re telling me, if I don’t repent of homosexuality, I’ll go to hell?’ I looked her in the eyes and said, ‘Unless you call upon the name of the Lord and repent, you can’t be saved.’ And she said, ‘Thank you for telling me. Thank you for being honest.’ I’ve always remembered Bridget, and I still pray for her.”
Pray. Plant in hope. We rejoice in doing God’s work, no matter the outcome. The fact is, the Word of God is powerful. Think about it. These are the words of the living God. Don’t be tempted to think apologetics are what really wins a person to the Kingdom. What wins a person to the Kingdom is the work of the Holy Spirit, and God has chosen to do that through the preaching of the Bible. “The Word of God is living and active. It’s not ‘Does this person know I love them?’ If you’re sharing the word of God, if you’re walking in the Spirit, you’ll be amazed what God can do in a conversation,” says Tom, one of our evangelism interns. “I’ve had people cry, I’ve had people fall in my arms, I’ve had people say: ‘No one’s ever told me this before.’ And I’ve had people call on the name of the Lord. It’s not because I’m something special. It’s because the Word of God is what it says it is. It’s living and active. You’ll be amazed what God can do with a couple loaves and a couple fish.”
We never know which conversations will be saving conversations. All we can do is pray, persevere in hope, and keep planting seeds.