Out of the Comfort Zone
Out of the Comfort Zone by evangelist Ray Comfort is one of those rare books that grabs your attention and won’t let you go. Considering the content, I think in this case it may be the Holy Spirit whispering in your ear, telling you to read it! We got our copy in a set of books that came with an enrollment in the School of Biblical Evangelism, which we gave to our teenage son for Christmas. He started reading Out of the Comfort Zone at 10:00 one night before going to bed and ended up staying awake until 4:00 am just so he could finish it!
The same thing happened to me one afternoon when I was browsing through the same set of books. As soon as I picked up Out of the Comfort Zone, I was hooked and couldn’t put it down until five hours later, after I’d read all 269 pages. Then the same thing even happened to my husband! He woke up early one Sunday morning and started reading Out of the Comfort Zone. Although he wasn’t quite done with the book when it was time to go to church, he sat right back down and read the rest of it as soon as we got home.
The book’s title is a clever word play on the author’s last name, which just happens to perfectly fit the theme of this autobiographical work. In general, the term “comfort zone” is used to define a habitual set of behaviors or a mental boundary that we create for ourselves, within which we derive a certain sense of security (and which often leads to complacency). Most of us have our own comfort zone, but sometimes circumstances force us outside of that place of comfort. Stepping out of your comfort zone means leaving the environment where you feel safe, secure, and satisfied.
Besides telling the story of Ray Comfort’s personal testimony, Out of the Comfort Zone describes in fascinating detail the author’s experiences as he boldly stepped out of his comfort zone to witness for Jesus Christ and evangelize the lost. By reading this book, you will be inspired and encouraged to do the same. In general, Out of the Comfort Zone will ignite your passion to reach out to anyone and everyone. In particular, if you didn’t already have a heart for the homeless, you certainly will have by the time you’re done reading this book.
Ray Comfort is the founder of Living Waters Publications and co-founder of The Way of the Master (with Kirk Cameron). He has written more than 50 books and designed numerous gospel tracts since the 1970’s, leading to the popular tract ministry of Living Waters. Born in New Zealand on December 5, 1949, Comfort is Jewish but was raised with hardly any religious experience at all. He became a Christian at age 21 when someone gave him the gospel on a surfing trip.
Soon Comfort was making his own tracts, running a drug rehabilitation center, and street-preaching at the city of Christchurch’s Speaker’s Corner. His first book, My Friends are Dying, received national attention on a radio show. Ray Comfort was working as an assistant pastor doing counseling when Pastor Gary Ansdell of Hosanna Chapel (a Calvary Chapel fellowship) invited Comfort to join him in Bellflower, California as “Pastor of Evangelism.”
In January 1989, Ray Comfort and his wife moved 7,000 miles away from New Zealand to Southern California. Comfort began open-air preaching in Los Angeles’ MacArthur Park. At that time MacArthur Park was a notoriously dangerous hangout for drug addicts, thieves, prostitutes, murderers, and the homeless. Obviously not the most pleasant place to spend a day, but as you read this book you will feel like you’re standing alongside him as he gives away sandwiches and ministers to the people there.
Even though Out of the Comfort Zone is basically one man’s true-life experience, this book reads like an exciting, fast-paced drama! Some parts will make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, other parts will bring tears to your eyes, but many parts will also make you laugh with joy as you read how Ray Comfort manages to make it through just about any situation with his typical sense of wit and humor.
Ray Comfort preached in MacArthur Park for many years until a police substation was built there and the area was cleaned up, forcing him to find new places around Los Angeles to go reach the homeless (which wasn’t hard to do). In addition, Comfort also did some traveling to other states and countries. I was quite shocked by the fact that the most frightening incident wasn’t a mugging or stabbing in MacArthur Park but rather occurred in Utah at a gathering of Mormons!
In his book, Ray Comfort also tells how he met Hollywood celebrity Kirk Cameron. The actor heard Comfort’s “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” sermon and became strongly convicted by the message. Cameron contacted Comfort, and soon Kirk and Ray became good friends. Comfort and Cameron’s teamwork led to “The Way of the Master” television show and its accompanying nationwide ministry. Comfort was even able to suggest major script changes to the movie Left Behind: Tribulation Force, making for an awesome presentation of the gospel on the big screen.
Throughout the book, Comfort maintains that he is a normal, born-again Christian who struggles with the same fear of rejection that all believers dread when they share the gospel with unbelievers. Ray Comfort wants every reader to know that if he can do it, so can you. Comfort is a great example of how God can use anyone to minister to others and be a messenger of his Gospel. You will find it hard to finish his book without being effected by Comfort’s humble attitude and tremendous compassion for the lost.
Indeed, Out of the Comfort Zone is such a powerful testimony and sets such a good example, you won’t be content to be a “lukewarm” Christian anymore after reading it. It will challenge you to step out of your own personal comfort zone and make you look at unsaved people in a different way, while giving you a bolder sense of evangelism and inspiring you to go out and witness. If you should really be overcome by a strong desire to win strangers for Christ, it also contains helpful material on how to street preach.
Ray Comfort is one Christian preacher who not only “talks the talk,” he “walks the walk.” Today you will still find him down in the trenches, dredging the swamp of humanity to bring them the good news. Out of the Comfort Zone is a real eye-opener that will encourage you and lift your faith. The powerful message of this book will stay with you for a long time after you finish reading it. Just make sure when you pick it up that you will have time to read the whole thing in one sitting!
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