Former teen star Kirk Cameron becomes evangelism advocate

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BP)--Many will see him forever as the teen heartthrob of television’s “Growing Pains,” but today Kirk Cameron would like you to remember him as an evangelist who taught you to help people recognize their desperate need for Jesus Christ.

The church too often has tried to sell non-Christians on the benefits of a relationship with Christ, Cameron noted, without first convincing them that they desperately need salvation. Through a new reality-based TV series, “The Way of the Master,” he relays evangelism strategies that can make the process natural and effective.

Cameron, who starred as Buck Williams in the movie treatment of the best-selling “Left Behind” novel, was one of the speakers during Elevate 2004 Feb. 19-21 at the Charlotte Convention Center. The conference was sponsored by the North American Mission Board to help adults ages 18-29 integrate faith and work and see their profession as part of God’s calling on their lives. Speakers included Sean Hannity, actress Victoria Jackson, Georgia Gov. Sonny Purdue and a range of other speakers from media, business, entertainment, law and other professions.

Cameron shared his testimony of how he first was introduced to Christ at age 17 after accepting an invitation to church from a girlfriend.

“I can tell you that of all the things I’ve done in my life, of all the people I’ve met and the places I’ve been, absolutely nothing compares to the joy of knowing Christ, of being forgiven of my sin and of being in a right relationships with my Creator,” Cameron said. “There is nothing more important than that.”

It was through his own experiences sharing his faith with others that Cameron discovered some frustrations with contemporary evangelism. Too often, he said, the focus is more on worship of God than on being obedient to God’s command to share that relationship with others. He used the analogy of a firefighter at a burning building standing outside and watching while the building burn, hesitant to bother the people inside.

And when Christians do try to share their faith, the approach often is based on “selling” the benefits of Christianity rather than convincing people that they are lost without Christ.

“Until a man is humbled and brought to his knees in repentance, he will never experience the grace that God has extended to him on the cross,” Cameron said.

“When you talk to someone about how Jesus died on the cross … how many times have you had them say, ‘Hey. I’ve got my own set of beliefs that I’m comfortable with,’” he said. “You feel like a salesman trying to sell them Jesus over and over and over, trying to find new ways to package Jesus so that they will want Him. It can be frustrating.”

Jesus’ method, however, was to point them to the law and let it convict them of sin, Cameron said.

“He was using the moral law to strip man of his self-righteousness ... humble him and bring him to the point that he realizes that he has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard,” he said.

In the upcoming TV series, The Way of the Master, Cameron and his partner, Ray Comfort, confront people on the streets about their relationship with God. One method, he said, is to ask them if they have ever lied, stolen, had an adulterous thought or violated any other of the Ten Commandments. Finally, the evangelist is able to suggest that by the person’s own admission he or she is “a lying, thieving, blasphemer and an adulterer at heart.” And when the person brings up God’s mercy, the Christian can point out what they would think of a judge who offered forgiveness to a criminal brought before him just because he confessed.

Cameron said when he went through the process with one golfing partner, by the end of the round he was broken before God and seeking Him in repentance.

“Before I could lead the guy through a sinner’s prayer ... he was confessing his sins to God,” Cameron recounted. “... He was finally convinced that he had the disease of sin -- not just because a preacher told him, but because God had shown him through the Ten Commandments.”

The Way of the Master will air on NAMB’s FamilyNet network beginning this fall and is currently airing on other Christian networks. Downloadable resources are available through www.thewayofthemaster.com.


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: KIRK CAMERON.

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