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Ray Comfort and the “Audacity” of In-Your-Face Evangelism

I’ve known Ray Comfort for a number of years, and one thing I admire him for is getting out there and interacting directly with nonbelievers. You may or may not like his methods, but the truth is, he’s not harsh, condescending, or rude – he simply tells people the truth. In fact, I’m constantly surprised at how many people he meets who actually start re-thinking their opinions about evolution, same-sex marriage, abortion, and other hot button issues. So as Ray launched his recent “Audacity” campaign, I asked him some questions.  Read his answers, and let me know your thoughts:

Phil Cooke: Tell me about the campaign and what are its goals?
Ray Comfort: The goal is threefold. 1. We want homosexuals to know that we don’t hate them. Christians have been wrongly vilified by the LGBT community as being hateful, and I can understand why they feel like that. When the crazies hold up signs saying that God hates gays it makes good press, and so the media have painted us all with a dirty brush. 2. We want to teach Christians how to share the gospel with gay people, without compromise and without undue offense. 3. We want to share the gospel with a dying world.

Phil: Tell me about your new movie. What’s it about?
Ray: Audacity is a movie about a young Christian who is an aspiring stand-up comic. He meets a lesbian couple in an elevator and wants to share his faith with him, but he freaks out because he doesn’t want to come across as being a hateful. That sends him on a journey to see if it is possible to be loving, without compromising the gospel. It’s a fast-moving fascinating story, complete with twists and turns and the unique real-life street interviews.

Phil: Where do you draw the line in these types of campaigns between “effective” and “gimmick”?
Ray: That’s a very good question, and one with which I often struggle. How do you get the attention of the world who doesn’t want to hear what you have to say? Perhaps we have a precedent in the preaching of the Apostle Paul. When he stood up to preach the gospel to the Athenians, he quoted Greek poets. He was there to preach the gospel, but to do so he quoted godless poets to get their attention. A four story rainbow banner will hopefully work better in San Francisco than would the poetry of ancient Greeks.

Phil: What are you hearing out there so far? Is it working?
Ray: We are delighted with the results. Christians love it, but we have also been getting response from LGBT supporters, saying that they actually liked the film. Here are two of them:
“I won’t give a lot of details but I find the idea of having relations with men repulsive. I am a lesbian. I watched your movie Audacity on Youtube. Very powerful. Thank you not hating us. Best wishes, Jayline.”
“I have to say, as a gay woman who watched Audacity, I agree that the topic was handled with love and compassion which was refreshing to see…the message was clear (even if it was one I disagreed with as an atheist).”

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Phil: Should Christians be more creative and strategic in our evangelism?
Ray: Hardly a day goes by when I don’t shake my head when I think that our YouTube channel has over 34 million views. Many years ago when we wanted to get the gospel to other nations we would send missionaries overseas who would take six weeks to travel by ship, wives would die of malaria, and it would be great sacrifice and hardship. Nowadays all it takes to reach millions with the gospel in movie format is the move of a mouse and a “click.” So we must take more advantage of this incredible thing we call “Social Media.” This is why we make movies and make them freely available on the Internet. As Christians we have to strive for excellence, and one way we tried to achieve this was by having the best actors we could find. So we chose them by their merit rather than by their worldview (the two lead actors were non-Christians). In past years we have put up with bad acting in many of our Christian films, but world won’t have it. They will tune out if there’s five seconds of cheese.

Phil: What’s the greatest challenge you see facing the Church in the next 5 years?
Ray: One great challenge for the Church has always been to carry out the irksome task of evangelism. I’m concerned when we are distracted from this great commission, by politics and other things. While it’s wonderful to have godly man in high places of political authority, I often wonder if anyone has noticed that we do the same thing every four years, and nothing much happens? We spend time and energy and a huge amount of money and abortion is worse. Adultery is worse. So is homosexuality, blasphemy, fornication, and pornography. This is because politics merely shakes the branches. The gospel takes an ax to the root of the tree. The moment I experienced the new birth, I became pro-life, one man one woman in marriage, hated adultery, murder, blasphemy and all the things that displeased God. The gospel is the only answer for our nation, and we must never forget that. It makes Hell-bound sinners Heaven-bound, and has righteousness in its train.

Phil: If there was one thing you’d change about the way people share their faith today, what would it be?
Ray: I would tell them to stop preaching the unbiblical “God has a wonderful plan for your life, and He will fix your problems” gospel. It’s been filling the Church with false converts. Imagine trying to preach that to a 1,000 doomed people on the hundredth story of the World Trade Center the night before 9/11. If it wouldn’t work there, it’s not the biblical gospel. I wrote a book on the subject. It’s freely available online at www.freeWonderfulBook.com.

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