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What Made Ray Comfort Open-Air Preach for the First Time?

The Word on the Street

From Ray Comfort’s book, The Word on the Street.

So it was that I found myself standing in front of a small crowd in The Square, waiting to preach the gospel to thirty to forty people sitting on the steps eating lunch, with a few stragglers leaning against a wall. To say I was nervous would be the understatement of eternity. Seven years earlier, I had determined never, ever to speak in public. Ever. My high school teacher had required the class to give speeches, and I had dried up in the middle of my speech about surfing, had to sit down, and was humiliated in front of my friends. Yet here I was, about to open my terrified mouth in front of strangers who weren’t going to like what I was about to say.

I felt very nervous, but I knew I had to do it. Just as I was about to step forward, a Christian came alongside me not knowing what I was planning to do. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something like, “Look at that bunch of losers. Hardly worth preaching the gospel to them,” then he walked off. I couldn’t believe my ears. It was perfect timing. Too perfect. I realized it was a subtle satanic message to discourage me, so I stepped forward and preached anyway. I have no memory of how I began or even how the crowd reacted, but after I finished I knew it wasn’t over. I knew I had to come back and do it again and again.

That was around March 1974, and I thank God that I opened my mouth that day. It was the first of over three thousand times that I would speak to the crowds in “Speaker’s Corner” in The Square.

“It was perfect timing. Too perfect. I realized it was a subtle satanic message to discourage me, so I stepped forward and preached anyway.”

I certainly wasn’t the only speaker who took advantage of the audience gathered there. Over the fourteen years in which I preached in Christchurch, I befriended a colorful character known as “the Wizard,” who also regularly spoke to the lunchtime crowds. He was intelligent, friendly, kind, and very anti-Christian. However, he liked me despite the fact that I was a “disgusting, low-down, born-again,” while he was a High-Church Anglican. I preached for the first lunch hour and he preached for the second.

His crowds were always larger than mine, but because of our friendship, there were times when he let me climb up on his ladder and speak to his crowd while he stood beside me. It was amazing.

On January 10, 1989, Sue and I left our beloved city and families and left everything we knew to be home. I had been invited to take my family to the United States, specifically to bring a teaching called “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” to the church of America.

From Ray Comfort’s book, The Word on the Street.

The Word on the Street
1. Why This Controversial Open-Air Preaching Tactic Is Actually Biblical
2. Want to Open-Air Preach? Use a Talent to Draw a Crowd
3. Without Repentance, Sinners Will Perish
4. How Should Open-Air Preachers Handle Hecklers?
5. Should a Woman Open-Air Preach?
6. How to Share the Gospel with a Muslim… WITHOUT Offending Them
7. Overcoming Fear When Sharing Your Faith
8. These Bible Verses Prove a Literal Hell
9. Is Water Baptism Essential for Salvation?
10. The Mission Field at the College Campus
11. Ray Comfort’s Tips for Picking an Open-Air Location
12. Memorize This Scripture if You Want to Share the Gospel
13. What Made Ray Comfort Open-Air Preach for the First Time?

Ray Comfort

Ray Comfort is the Founder and CEO of Living Waters, a bestselling author, and has written more than 100 books, including, The Evidence Study Bible. He cohosts the award-winning television program Way of the Master, which airs in 190 countries.

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