This Thursday, Nov. 8, Council for Life will hold its annual fund-raising event, the Celebrating Life Luncheon, in Dallas, Texas. Last year I went, and I totally got a lush (lady crush) on their keynote speaker, Kathy Ireland. This year’s keynote speaker, Ray Comfort, is the producer of the viral pro-life film 180. If you haven’t seen it, please, for the love of all that is holy, go watch it now. It’s 30 minutes long, and it will open your eyes, challenge you, shock you, and most of all teach you new ways to approach people about the issue of life.
Council for Life’s annual luncheon is its main fundraising event, and this year they expect to either reach or get really close to the $4million mark. They’ve been raising money for life-affirming organizations since 2001, and so far their donors have benefited pregnancy centers, adoption agencies, and more, to the tune of $3.3 million.
Council for Life is a great organization, and 180 is a fantastic movie. So I called up Ray Comfort in Southern California to talk to him about how we can all get involved for life. He began by saying he’s “very, very honored” to be speaking at the Celebrating Life Luncheon.
Ray is a native of New Zealand, and if you’ve seen the movie, you’re familiar with his awesome accent and friendly, confident attitude. The content of the film 180 mainly consists of Ray approaching strangers – mostly young people – on the street in California. He starts talking to them about World War II (you will be amazed at people’s reactions to the question “Do you know who Adolf Hitler is?”) and slowly, gently, turns the conversation to abortion. What happens next is incredible, and by the end of the video, you’ll be pretty sure Ray Comfort is some kind of guru.
But make no mistake – Ray insists that anyone can do this. “I find it very uncomfortable when people say I’m gifted at talking to people,” he says. He compares this to walking up to a runner who’s just crossed the finish line and calling him a “gifted” runner. “What do you mean gifted? I’ve got these muscles because I’ve trained. That’s what you see in 180. It’s not a gifting; it’s something I’ve learned to do by hard work.” So anyone can do it? According to Ray, yes. “It only takes a little bit of compassion and a little bit of hard work.”
In fact, there’s a course, available through Ray’s company Living Waters, that teaches you how to approach people like Ray does in the film.
“To me,” I told Ray, “the questioning of these people kind of reminds me of the Socratic method of teaching, where you reveal to people their own way of thinking without them even realizing it.”
That’s right, says Ray. “We all know that it’s wrong to murder, but we don’t really know we know that until we’re questioned.”
But with 180, the lesson doesn’t end there. What comes next is adding just a bit of information. Ray gave this example: ”If on a hot day I gave you a glass of water, and then I gave you a little information and said, ‘I put some arsenic into it’…you’re gonna do a 180[.] … Information or knowledge gives a perspective they had not seen before.”
One of the ways Ray does this in the film 180 is by drawing a comparison between abortion and the Holocaust of World War II. When I was researching Ray’s company and film online, I found a lot of people who were very offended by this comparison, including some Holocaust survivors. I asked Ray how he felt about this.
“They’re right,” he said, “it’s not a fair comparison. American abortion has killed ten times as many people as the Holocaust. That’s not demeaning what happened to the Jews. I’m horrified that so many of my relatives were slaughtered, but I’m even more horrified that it’s happening here in America, where we have the history of the Holocaust to teach us.” Ethnically Jewish but a passionate Christian, Ray says that nothing really compares to the legalized killing of abortion. ”Nearly 60 million Americans have lost their lives through legalized abortion. That leaves me…” He is silent for a few seconds, then says, “It’s breathtaking. And…a horror.”
So I ask him his opinion of how it will end. Will it be legislation, or will it be a change in the hearts and minds of Americans?
“When I look at the Bible,” says Ray, “the book of Acts, you see the agenda of the apostles wasn’t to change the government politically, it was to change the hearts of men and women[.] … You don’t have to get on a soapbox at a university, although that would be nice. What you can do is send 180 on to everyone you know and let that do the work.”
His dream is to see 180 – which is available to view absolutely free online – reach the viral video numbers of the famous YouTube sensation “Charlie Bit My Finger,” which at the time of our conversation had 390 million views. When I ask Ray what is something anyone can do to help end abortion, he says, “Please realize the value of social media. We have a generation that doesn’t watch TV news, is not interested in politics, they don’t read USA Today, they don’t pick up a newspaper, they don’t read TIME: they’re in a world of social media, iPods, iPads, Facebook, Twitter. We need to tap in to that because at virtually no cost to us we’ve been able to reach 3.5 million people.”
Ray laughs and says, “I think a video that can save the lives of human beings and share the Gospel with them is more important than ‘Charlie Bit My Finger.’”
I must say I agree. If you haven’t yet, watch 180. It’s free, and it is very worth your time. If you’d like to get a little – or a lot! – better at talking to people about the issue of abortion, consider buying the course, which is very inexpensive. Last but not least – check out Council for Life and see how you can help them help the unborn.