Let love swallow your fears and go for it.
We arrived at the office of Way of the Master ministry a bit early, having successfully braved L.A.'s morning rush hour traffic. Bellflower seemed to be in an older part of the Los Angeles metropolis. A few palm trees provided shade along the cracked sidewalks. Across the well-worn street was a bagel shop. Down the road was a gas station. Nothing glamorous.
At 10 a.m., the team representing Boundless — my wife Ashleigh and I — washed down the last of our bagels with some sips of iced coffee and knocked on the door to the ministry.
Judy let us in, and began to show us around. The first room was an unassuming reception area with a desk and some books for sale. To the left was the warehouse and shipping area, where hundreds of boxes were stacked up, full of evangelistic materials ready to be mailed out. To the right was a hallway that led to a conference room, more storage, a radio studio, and some offices. We brought our equipment into the conference room and began to set up for the interview.
As I was connecting an XLR cable from my preamp to one of the lavalieres, Ray walked in, upbeat and smiling, offering us something to drink. He showed us how to make the monkey doll chatter by clapping our hands. He followed up by cracking some jokes. Ashleigh and I immediately felt comfortable.
When Kirk arrived, we felt no less comfortable. It was as though we were getting together with a couple of friends. In this case, though, these friends were the faces of a ministry that has been invigorating countless Christians around the world to boldly love those who haven't yet heard the gospel, to shed their fear and share the good news by first helping people understand their need for a Savior.
The next hour inspired both of us. It's our prayer that our conversation inspire you as well.
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God's Law and Our Will to Live
Boundless: I was wondering how in a post-modern culture this message might be presented so that it's relevant to those who may not respect the Ten Commandments, any kind of moral authority, any kind of moral law. They might look at the tracts you hand out and think, "Oh, how quaint."
Ray Comfort: You make it relevant by pinpointing an issue that's going to concern them: their will to live. Nobody in his right mind wants to die. So I know that there's something in the human being that's on my side. Human means lowly. Being means that's he's aware of his existence. We're different from the animals. We're made in the image of God. We form ourselves into orchestras; we appreciate a sunset and a sunrise; we appreciate a rose. Animals couldn't really care less. So I know there in the human heart is something that says, "I don't want to die."
So I can appeal to that, and just say, "What do you think happens after you die?"
And then the other ally that we have is the sinner's conscience. Instead of speaking of issues that deal with his intellect, we go directly to his conscience. It says in Romans 8, verse 7: "The carnal mind is enmity against God." It's in a state of hostility, and you can see this. They blaspheme the name of the God who gave them life. But the same verse highlights where the hostility is directed: "For it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can it be." So the hostility in the human heart is directed at God's moral government — at His Law. "God is not going to tell me what to do with my life" sort of thing.
So where can we find a place of harmony between the unregenerate mind and God's Law? Well, Romans 2, verse 15, tells us. It says, "Which show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness." The conscience will bear witness with the Moral Law.
I can be talking to a guy about evolution and he's becoming contentious. But then I say, "Hey, John." And he says, "What?" I say, "You know it's wrong to lie, don't you?" He says, "Yeah." "Have you ever lied?" He says, "Yeah." "You know it's wrong to steal don't you?" And he says, "Yeah, I know it's wrong to steal." He knows it's wrong to commit adultery, et cetera, because the Word of the Lord is written on his heart.
So we can make it relevant by just saying to him, "So, here's a big if. If God judges you by the Ten Commandments, bearing in mind that you're a self-admitted lying, thieving, blasphemous adulterer at heart, if He judges you by those Ten Commandments on the Day of Judgment, do you think you'd be innocent or guilty?" He'll say, "I'll be guilty." "Would you go to Heaven or Hell?" I'm not saying, "Do you believe in those," but "Would you under those conditions end up in Hell?" He says, "Yeah." "Does it concern you?" And if he says no, say, "Come on. You want to live. You love your life. How much do you value your eyes? Would you sell an eye for a million dollars?" He'd said, "No." How much more is your wife worth? And you're saying you don't care?"
So you make it relevant by appealing to his will to live, which is God-given, and his conscience, which will agree with the Commandments. And then you leave him, and then take him to the cross. You leave him in the hands of a faithful Creator, who said, "My Word will not return void."
Your theology will direct your methodology. If you believe that God is sovereign and no man can come to the Son unless the Father draws him, you'll trust the Lord. But if you think salvation depends on you getting a decision, you have to get him to decide just there and then, which anyone can do, can manipulate people into doing that. But when you trust God, you can come away from talking with someone like that and say, "That was successful because I was able to plant the seed of God's Word in his heart, and God is faithful to bring an increase."
Boundless: So how would you speak to people who are fearful of sharing their faith? Why is it important for people not to be held back by fear or other motivations from sharing their faith?
Kirk Cameron: The eternal destiny of people, people that we love, other people's loved ones....
Fear is something that we will all battle as Christians. That's one of the greatest tools and weapons that Satan has to use against us to just keep us in the barracks and not get out there onto the field and fight the good fight.
And if you think of what we're afraid of, especially in America.... We really don't need to be afraid of being burned at the stake. We don't need to be afraid of being stoned or our heads cut off for sharing the gospel with somebody. We live in America.
We're afraid of being rejected, which is a pretty wimpy thing to be afraid of. We're afraid that someone is not going to like us. We're afraid of being looked at as an unintelligent, obnoxious, religious fanatic if we share Jesus Christ with somebody. And we're so terribly afraid of that, that they're going to reject us and not like us.
The key to getting over fear is compassion. It's love for other people. And that's what Jesus said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." If we will care more about what happens to this person than we care about what might happen to us, than we can overcome fear, and that's what Jesus did. He had determined in his mind he was going to obey the Father because he loved the Father. He affirmed that in the garden. He said, "Not my will, but Thy will be done," and He came to seek and save the lost.
What's the worst-case scenario for the person who's going to go to share his faith? I might get rejected. What's the worse case scenario for the guy who doesn't hear the gospel and dies without the mercy of God? Eternity in the lake of fire.
So what we should do is let fear drive us to our knees and say, "Oh, God. I'm scared stiff. My knees are shaking; my hands are sweating at the thought of sharing the gospel with this person. But if I love them, I'm going to do it anyway. Please give me the strength." And every Christian knows that when we are weak, that's when God can demonstrate His might.
And we need to speak the truth in love with an understanding of how to do that biblically; that's what we try to teach through the Way of the Master — so that you're not running out into battle with no weapons. You're not out there with a couple of feather dusters in your hands trying to do battle. You've got the ten cannons of God's Law aimed directly at the sinner's conscience, not at his intellect. And they're designed to blow holes in his self-righteousness and bring him to the foot of the cross where he can appreciate the grace of God. It's a wonderful and powerful tool. Charles Spurgeon called it our ablest auxiliary. He said it's the strength of the arms of the Gospel to show him his desperate need of a Savior.
And sadly, the Church has gotten away from it because the Law brings conviction of sin, and that's uncomfortable. And that is possibly offensive to people. And so the Church has gotten away from talking about sin and hell in any kind of a confrontational kind of a way.
But that's the only thing that will drive a sinner to the cross and say, "I'm done with me. I'm laying my life down. I'm laying down my arms; I'm surrendering to God, even if it costs me my life. Because I am gaining something much more valuable than my life here on earth."
Ray Comfort: In the lobby of our store we have a big painting. And if you look closely at it, it's a picture of about a dozen guys being crucified in a Roman coliseum, and there's a group of about 60 people in front of them. If you look closer at it, you can see the 12 or so people that are being crucified are blackened, and it seems they've been covered in tar and are being set alight while they're being crucified.
And then horror of horrors, as you look to the little corner of the painting, there's a vicious lion and a tiger being released. And in the little huddle of 60 people are these 12 guys' moms and dads, and their children. So what they are going to do is witness, as they burn to death being crucified, their loved ones being torn from limb to limb as martyrs in a Roman coliseum. All they had to do is say "I curse Jesus Christ" to be released and go home, to be with their family, but they wouldn't do it. And God is not asking us to die for him at this present time. He's asking us to live for him.
So I'm ashamed when I listen to my fears. You know, when I look at a guy and say "I can't witness to that guy. How am I going to bring this —" Come on. I'm not going to be martyred. There's no lion there. Satan runs around with his little roaring lion, but if I resist him, stay fast in the faith, I'm sweet.
And so every time you go to share your faith you're going to have a spirit of fear come against you. But as Kirk said, we've got to let compassion swallow our fears and think of those who preceded us that founded the Church in blood. And we're not called to do that. We're just asked to stand up and be not ashamed.
I think it's so relevant in a time when so many preachers are so careful of what they say from pulpits. They won't use words like "repentance" or "righteousness" or "sin" or "judgment." But think about what Jesus said, "Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation, of him will I be ashamed when I come."
We're not ashamed of Jesus. I mean, real men love Jesus. We've got a fish on the back of our cars. Anyone can wear a Jesus shirt. But it's His words that we pull back from. Words like repentance and hell and judgment day and sin and righteousness. But we must stand up and say, "God, let me never be ashamed. Let me boldly be a true and faithful witness of the gospel."
Boundless: What do you think of relationship evangelism, where you don't really say anything directly about the gospel? You build relationships and you wait for them to ask. What would you say to someone who says, "Well, that's what I'm doing. That's what I feel I'm supposed to do"?
Ray Comfort: I'm a very strong believer in relationship evangelism, building relationships. Sometimes I wait two or three minutes before I witness to someone. I build that relationship and get to know them and chat with them.
And I'll tell you my cue from Jesus with the woman at the well: He built a relationship it seems over two or three minutes before he spoke to her about eternal salvation. And the reason we need to do that is that friend you're building a relationship with could die tonight with an aneurism, and then what are you going to do?
Besides, who are the hardest people to witness to? Relations. I mean, my mom — I'd rather talk to a thousand atheists than witness my mom. It's uncomfortable. And the reason for that is if I witness to a stranger and offend him, he says, "Get away, you fanatic." It's forgotten; it's gone. I haven't lost a thing except my dignity. But if my mom says that to me, I've lost a relationship.
Kirk Cameron: That's so true. If you really sit down and think about it, we're not anti-relationship. I mean, we should try to build relationships and care and have friendships.
But how many times do you have a family member that you try to witness to and you think, "They know me so well. They know all of my secrets in the closet. They won't listen to me." And you say to your buddy, "Oh, if you could just witness to my father, or if you could just talk to my brother." "Oh, God, I'm praying you'll send somebody to go talk to him who doesn't have a history, and who he'll listen to."
We can't pass up an opportunity to witness to strangers because it is far easier, there's nothing to lose, and there's no back history that clouds what you're saying. You know, it's almost like a prophetic voice speaking to somebody where they go home and go, "Wow, I wasn't expecting that today. I wonder if that was, you know, God trying to speak to me." It's a great thing to witness to people that you don't know on every level.
Ray Comfort: I have an overripe imagination. I see any little old lady as Goliath. She's anti-Christian, hates Christians. But my fears are never realized. The thing that helps more than anything else is gospel tracks, but not the normal gospel tract, you know — things like a million dollar bill. Have you ever seen those?
Boundless: I think so, yes.
Ray Comfort: Yes, the million-dollar bill is wonderful.
Boundless: You can still hand those out, then? I understand you were being investigated for making those.
Ray Comfort: Yes. The Secret Service did us great service. We sold a half a million in one day. We had to take it off the Web site because the staff were exhausted. It was just amazing. They seized 8,000 in Texas, and we waited for them to seize our shipment. But they didn't, so I ordered another a million and a half. And then we ordered our billion-dollar bill, which has taken off like hotcakes on a cold day in Alaska.
The wonderful thing with a million-dollar bill is I can walk up to stranger who is just standing there and just say, "Excuse me, did you get your million dollars?" He says, "What?" Say, "Here's a million bucks; it's great when you get your change."
And then I say to him, "It's a gospel tract," as he's looking at it. "What do you think happens after somebody dies?" Now, I've just swung the spiritual things without mentioning Jesus, the Bible, righteousness, sin, judgment, Hell, none of those things that scare us. I say, "What do you think happens after someone dies?" So I brought up his favorite subject: his opinion. So there's nothing offensive.
And he just says something like, "Well, I don't know. I believe in Heaven, but I...." I said, "Do you believe in Hell?" "No, I don't think so." "So you think you'll go to Heaven?" He says, "Yeah, yeah." "So you're a good person?" "Yeah, I'm a real good person." "Well, can I ask you a few questions and see if it's true?" "Go ahead." And I see the guy's friendly; he's not anti-Christian. What's he's done is he's been opened to the things of God, and that's dissipated my fears.
Kirk Cameron: So you see how it diffuses any awkward sense of "Oh, this is a religious guy who comes up and says, 'Do you know Jesus?'" It immediately creates a little bridge with the person, and you get some smiling and laughing. And then it brings up the subject for you just by you pointing it out, and then you get talking to them.
And that right there is the hard part because you're about to get into this subject about God. But with some practice it's like jumping into a pool of water. You're just sort of like, "It may be cold for about two seconds, but it's going to be fine." You just practice going for it for the love of the person and the love of God. And just remember that picture of those people being crucified and lions about to tear them about and say, "I can do this."
Ray Comfort: And probably out of a hundred of those, you might get two or three cold people. You remember the cold ones, sometimes, you know. And you've just got to keep encouraging yourself, because you do get rejected now and then. But 95 percent of the time, people are very warm and friendly.
Kirk Cameron: I was getting my hair cut recently, and I was waiting in the little waiting area here, and I'm waiting for my guy to give me a hair cut. And these guys are all reading magazines like this, and I'm thinking, "OK, this would be a good opportunity to at least give out some gospel tracks." So I go, "Pspph. Hey, guys. Guys." So stupid. I go, "Hey, guys. I figured out how to get a great haircut at this place." And they're like, "Excuse me?" I said, "I figured out the trick. Here's how you get a great haircut." I pull out my wallet and I'm doing it all secretively, you know. I say, "Here, I said, give one of these to the hair stylist before she cuts your hair." It turned out great.
Boundless: Did they take them?
Kirk Cameron: Yeah, they all took them and they were laughing. Some of them use them as bookmarks and some are hanging on to them.... And then as I was leaving, I said to the one guy who I saw get into a chair and get his hair cut by this woman but he didn't give her the bill, "Well, obviously, you didn't give her the million dollars before she cut your hair. You better read the back when you get home."
And then as I was walking out, I said to the other guys as I was leaving — there's a new set of people — I said, "Hey, I figured out how to get a good haircut in this place." And a couple of them took it and then there was one woman over here who was watching me. And she was the cold fish in the group, you know. I went over and said, "Ma'am, did you get one?" And she goes, "No." Just ice queen, you know.
So you will get one of those in the bunch, but the majority of the people are like, "Oh, hey, that's great, thanks." And encourage them to read the back when they have a chance. Or if you have some time, sit and talk to them about it.
Ray Comfort: Eighty-seven percent of Americans want "under God" kept in the Pledge of Allegiance. So out there, it's not all anti-Christian people, it's just a few liberal news media or loud mouths that make us think everyone hates God, but they don't. So when you bring the subject up most people say, "Yeah, I think about it a lot. I've been thinking about what happens after you die. Especially after 9/11. It made me really think."
And so there's your opening. You learn to do what Jesus said, go through the Commandments, exalt the cross, and preach repentance and faith, and then, just say to the person, "Hey, thanks for listening to me." He says, "No problem. Appreciate you bringing this up." I say, "Do you have a Bible at home?" He says, "Yeah." Say, "Get back into it. Read the Gospel of John. There's nothing more important than your salvation. Nice to talk to you."
And it's just been a 5-minute encounter, and when you lay your head on your pillow at night, you say, "Thank you, Lord. This day hasn't been another day of futility. I've touched the eternal."
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