Not your typical European vacation

Saturday, November 10, 2012
Michael F. Haverluck (

Evangelist Ray Comfort and his crew with The Way of the Master television series recently visited 13 European nations in 13 days and took in a lot more than the sites -- they took in souls with the message of the Gospel.

When many think of visiting Europe, visions of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Parthenon and the Coliseum come to mind -- but when the former Roman Empire is brought up to renowned evangelist Ray Comfort, lost souls comes to mind. During his last tour to Europe, Comfort and his crew with The Way of the Master television series visited 13 nations in 13 days and they took in a lot more than the sites -- they took in souls with the message of the Gospel.

But why more than a dozen nations, especially with so many different language barriers?

Comfort, Ray"Many of us have the thought that to reach the lost in foreign countries we have to speak like them for some time before we can reach them with the Gospel," said Comfort, founder and CEO of Living Waters Publications. "We wanted to show that any of us can relate to any culture with the message of everlasting life almost instantly, with a little guidance and a good interpreter. This is because God has given every human being a will to live -- a heart cry of, 'Oh, I don't want to die!' That can be tapped into by a good open-air preacher."

He also points out that there is a universal connection that everyone shares, regardless of their culture or national origin.

"Plus, every one of us has an intuitive knowledge of right and wrong," Comfort added. "While the conscience may be shaped by society, it is primarily given to us by our Creator, and this is the faithful ally that responds to the Gospel when it is presented biblically."

13 nations in 13 days

Despite the universals, each nation left a distinct impression upon Comfort and his team, with some emblazoned memories that they will never forget.

Preaching to young ladies 1"We visited and filmed in 13 European countries in 13 days, including London, Paris, liberal Amsterdam, Germany's infamous Oktoberfest and nine other countries," Comfort told about The Way of the Master's Season Four, titled "Mission Europe."

"We had a huge crowd in Milan, but just as I concluded preaching a man approached me and began to angrily speak in very animated Italian. He turned out to be the top police officer (in plain clothes), and he and his uniformed officers took me and our photographer and held us for over an hour. They threatened to confiscate our cameras, and talked about big fines. At one point we thought they were going to toss us in jail, but then something amazing happened [and they were let on their way]."

Comfort felt God's protection and direction in many other European exploits.

"When we were in Belgium in the early hours of one morning I began preaching and found myself surrounded by an angry crowd of drunken men, and heard one of them yell, 'Get him!' That was a little scary," the longtime evangelist recounted. "We also had the honor of preaching open air to a crowd of two to three thousand in Prague, and in Budapest and other places we obtained some wonderful witnessing interviews that were clearly divine encounters."

With trials come opportunities

And some disappointments along the way didn't seem to be God's timing.

"The least receptive of all the countries was Monaco, on the French Riviera," Comfort pointed out. "We had requested an interview with Prince Albert, the king of Monaco, and not only did the authorities [turn] us down, they didn't want us filming on their streets, let alone preaching in the open air. On top of that, the weather turned bad on us the day we arrived, and it poured with rain."

But discouragement gave way to a new, unexpected opportunity.

"The only place our camera crew could find shelter (along with a crowd of tourists) was under a large store's canopy, right in front of the entrance to the prince's palace," recalled Comfort. "Our tour coordinator asked the store owner if we could preach the gospel to the crowd, and to our surprise he said that we could. So the gospel was preached on private property right in front of the palace, and I didn't end up in the king's dungeon."

Preaching near Eiffel TowerWhen asked Comfort whether he uses a different strategy to reach out to Europeans than he employs with Americans, he had this to say.

"It was the same strategy in each country, while making sure that we were culturally sensitive. That's what the Apostle Paul did in Athens (in Acts 17)," the co-host of The Way of the Master responded. "He wanted to confront them about their sin of idolatry, but he did so gently by quoting local poets and reasoning with his hearers. So we were always courteous and usually began by saying something endearing to the crowd."

However, this was not your conventional evangelistic crew.

"When we preached to Romanian students, Emeal Zwayne, one of our team members, began by saying (in their own language) the equivalent of 'What's up, dudes?' and received a warm response," Comfort told "It's amazing what you can say to a crowd if you can make them smile."

So when it comes down to it, who are more open to the Gospel: Europeans or Americans -- and why?

"Americans are generally more open, but that may be because they are often more outgoing by nature, and they are used to having God mentioned in the culture," Comfort asserted. "It's not the case in Europe. Preaching there is like diving for pearls. The shell is a little harder to open, but it is worth the effort to reach precious souls."

From backsliding atheists to Christian 'comforters'

And even with the increasing litigation threatening religious freedom in the United States, Comfort still believes the post-Christian European Union continues to produce more atheists.

"It seems that most of Europe has embraced atheism, but when you've had a little training in the principles of biblical evangelism, that isn't a problem," Comfort explained. "Most atheists backslide in seconds when asked one thought-provoking question."

Does the heightened atheism in Europe breed more contention?

"The only real hostility we encountered in Europe was the drunken crowd in Belgium, and we suspect that that was caused by alcohol rather than anger towards the Gospel," the native-born Kiwi reported.

The most memorable experience Comfort's taking from his European tour?

Preaching to young ladies 2"It wasn't just the fact that we were often laden with gifts of chocolate, nor was it the chocolate fountains in Belgium," answered Comfort. "It was the warm reception we got from Christians in every country we visited. Fifty people came out onto the streets with us in London, and it was similar in the other countries. We had to keep reminding ourselves that our TV program is aired in 123 counties and on over 50 Christian networks, and so we had a lot of friends who appreciated the ministry. That was encouraging because TV production means a lot of work in a studio, and it was great to get out there and meet some of our audience."

European harvest

Unlike many ministries, Comfort doesn't gauge the success of his evangelistic outreach by a headcount of commitments to Christ.

"I have learned not to gauge success on how many decisions we obtain," reasoned Comfort. "This is because it's easy to get decisions for Christ. All you need is some emotional music, some closed eyes, heads bowed, a pleading altar-call offering the benefits of peace and joy, along with the carrot of eternal life. Tragically, these unbiblical methods have filled the Church with false converts (I wrote a book on the subject called, God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life, with a cover picture a Stephen being stoned to death)."

Comfort contends that it is not for man to know another man's heart -- only God.

"The eternal salvation of a human being can't be obtained by any method," insisted Comfort. "It's God's business from start to finish. All we are called to do is plant the good seed of the Gospel. As in the natural realm, He gives the seed life, makes it grow, and then in time sometimes allows us to reap. So we don't know how many truly came to Christ because we don't have access to the book of Life. That means that the European trip was very successful -- because we had the privilege of planting the seed of the Word of God into the hearts of many people, and His Word cannot return void."

And reaction to Season Four gives every indication that WOTM's European tour did not end up fruitless.

"Thank you! ....  I have watched Way of the Master since Season One and I honestly have to say that this is the most professional setup I have seen as of yet!" said Richard Ronnins of Georgia. "You guys have far outdone yourself on this one!"

Preaching to young ladies 3So, will Comfort and his crew hit the godless streets of Europe or beyond in the near horizon?

"We have already filmed Season Five ... in Israel, and it will take a couple of years to complete post-production," Comfort shared. "We are seriously considering Season Six by reaching out to a very lost and godless unreached people's group. This group is truly primitive, with gaping holes in their ears, inserts in their lips, and piercings. They are so scientifically ignorant, that in their darkness many of them think that they are related to monkeys, and so we want to reach them by preaching open air in 13 of America's most prestigious universities."

The takeaway?

"Our aim ... is to get Christians out of the pews [and] into the marketplace -- that's why we exist," proclaimed Comfort. "And one of our foundational teachings is to convince the Church that this world loves the darkness, hates the light, and as the Bible says they won't come to the light. They are not going to come to us. If we care, we have to go to them with the message of eternal life, and we can show you how to biblically and effectively do that through open-air preaching."

And he exhorts American believers from coast to coast that there's still much work to be done on their own soil.

"There are 70 million professing Christians in America, and if just one in 70 decided that he or she was going to obey the Great Commission and 'preach' the Gospel to every creature, it would mean a million Christians would stand up and give light to our dark nation," informed Comfort.

"That will turn the country right side up. The series teaches how to pull in a crowd, how to hold their attention, how to handle hecklers to your advantage, how to make an atheist backslide, how to refute the foolishness of the unscientific theory of evolution, what not to do, and how to overcome the fear of 'drying up' or not being able to answer a difficult question. All you need is a little courage. Anyone can do this and make their life count for something eternal."

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