Conversation: Kirk Cameron
Twenty years ago Kirk Cameron, star of the television series Growing Pains, was a teen idol who at the height of his popularity left atheism
and committed his life to Christ. Many of Hollywood’s elite considered his
conversion and subsequent outspokenness about his faith career suicide. But
Cameron was unfazed. Instead, he dove into his faith, marriage and fatherhood.
A few years later he started teaching people how to share their faith boldly.
His is a road less traveled. Recently, Cameron spoke with Managing Editor Kirk
tpe: How did you come to know Christ as Savior?
CAMERON: I started in the entertainment industry when I was
9. At 14, I started playing Mike Seaver on Growing Pains. When I was 17 years
old I went to church, not because I was interested in God but because I was
chasing a really cute girl who was on Growing Pains. At the time, I was an
atheist and I was uncomfortable going to church. But I heard the gospel message
for the first time, and it got me thinking and asking questions about God and
tpe: So, going to church put you onto the road of a
CAMERON: Not at first. I began to dabble in New Age
philosophy because it appealed to my ego as an atheist. I believed I was god
and could determine my own destiny. But after a while I began to doubt that was
true because I had a hard time even making a pot of rice that didn’t clump. If
I couldn’t do that, how could I make my own universe?
So, I started praying and asking God to reveal himself to
me. I began to read the Bible, and God revealed himself to me through
Scripture. Soon after, I turned from sin and put my faith in Jesus Christ. It
was then that God began to change me into a new person.
tpe: What kind of changes did you notice?
CAMERON: I began to love the things of God because of what
He did for me on the Cross. I realized I was a sinner, guilty before God and on
my way to hell. But because Jesus shed His blood to pay the price for my sins,
He rescued me from my sins and granted me eternal life. Since then, I’ve
developed a concern for the lost.
tpe: The Way of the Master is a television series you do
with Ray Comfort. How did that come about?
CAMERON: I was promoting the Left Behind movies when someone
gave me an audiotape Ray had done called Hell’s Best-Kept Secret. I was
intrigued by the title, so I listened to it. It was earthshaking and challenged
my understanding of how to share the gospel.
I invited Ray to lunch and was immediately convinced his
message needed to be heard by everyone. We started producing The Way of the
Master, which teaches people the biblical way to share the gospel with a sinner
so that he or she thirsts for righteousness, values the Cross and comes to God
in humility and faith.
tpe: I’ve seen some of the clips from the program where you
and Comfort ask people what they think will happen after they die. It seems
like things can get pretty confrontational at times.
CAMERON: Sharing your faith can be confrontational. But
there is no way to talk about repentance without talking about sin and the
Cross. It makes no sense to share your faith if you sidestep talking about the
wrath and judgment of God. But when you look at what’s at stake for sinners if
they don’t come to Christ, it’s worse than dying.
tpe: On your program you teach viewers to engage complete
strangers with open-ended questions about eternity that you say will allow
conversations regarding faith to ensue. But that seems to contradict a popular
teaching point in Christian circles that says authentic relationships need to
be established before trying to lead someone to the Lord. How do you respond to
CAMERON: Relationship evangelism buys people time so they
don’t have to share their faith. Every day on this planet 150,000 people die. A
majority of those people die without knowing Christ. If I really care about
people, I will ask them what they think will happen when they die. I won’t
avoid their greatest fear — which the Bible says is the fear of death
— and I will share with them how they can make peace with God.
tpe: Is it easy for you to share your faith with complete
CAMERON: The people closest to us are usually the hardest to
tpe: Why is that?
CAMERON: If you offend a family member you might negatively
affect that relationship for a lot of years and make countless Thanksgiving
dinners uncomfortable. But if you say something that makes a complete stranger
uncomfortable you probably aren’t going to see that person again. So you have
nothing to lose. Believe it or not, most strangers will open up quicker to
another stranger regarding their faith than to a family member because they
also have nothing to lose.
tpe: You seem very confident that your way of evangelism
CAMERON: Our confidence in how we share the gospel rests in
the fact that we are doing it the way Jesus did it. He used the Ten
Commandments to bring the knowledge of sin to sinners. He spoke to people’s
consciences and told them why they needed a Savior.
tpe: You believe that many evangelism efforts fail to truly
convert people. Why is that?
CAMERON: If you look at the statistics on modern
evangelistic results, you’ll find the current fall-away rate is somewhere
between 80 and 90 percent. For every 100 decisions, 80 or 90 of those people
will fall away. That’s frightening, but it fits with what Scripture says will
happen in the last days.
tpe: Why do you think the fall-away rate is so high?
CAMERON: We’re not preaching a biblical gospel. People are
not being convicted of their sins, they’re not being born again, and they are
simply following a man-made formula that supposedly promises to improve their
A biblical gospel pricks the conscience and either humbles a
man and brings him to the Cross in repentance or it will anger him, offend his
pride and send him away even angrier than before he heard the gospel. That’s
the kind of preaching John Wesley did. He brought people to a crossroads that
forced them to make a decision between loving God or loving their sin. As
Christians, we need to bring people to that point while they still have time to
make a decision.
tpe: Do you ever get accused of lacking grace?
CAMERON: Only from people who don’t understand what grace
is. Grace is what God did for sinners on the Cross — it’s undeserved
kindness. If we really love and care about people, we’re not going to run up to
them and tell them they are going to hell. But we can and should ask them where
they think they’re going to go when they die.
If people have a wrong understanding of heaven and God and
don’t have a relationship with Jesus, I want to love them enough and be
compassionate enough to tell them how they can be right with God. In doing so,
I must also talk about the hard parts of the gospel such as sin and God’s
If people don’t understand sin, how can they repent? If they
don’t know they are headed for hell, it’s going to mean nothing to them to hear
about a Savior. In other words, if people don’t think they need to be saved
from hell, what good does it do for them to have a Savior who died on a cross
tpe: Let’s shift gears. Why did you write Still Growing,
CAMERON: I have six kids, and if you know anything about
kids they can make you age quickly. I figured I should write the book now
before I lose all my faculties.
tpe: How old are you?
CAMERON: I’m 37.
tpe: Some people would say 37 is young. There has to be
another reason you wrote an autobiography.
CAMERON: I wrote the book because I thought it would be fun
to take fans of Growing Pains back to the 1980s so they could see what it was
like to be a teen idol during the time when everyone was wearing parachute
pants, Reebok sneakers, acid-washed jeans and fluorescent shirts. I want
readers to know what it felt like to get 10,000 pieces of fan mail each week,
be stalked by pedophiles and have to fire my manager mom when I was 17 years
old. The book also gave me a chance to address some of the controversial things
that have been said about me regarding my faith and relationships with cast
members on Growing Pains.
tpe: After Growing Pains, where did your career take you?
CAMERON: My career has never been more exciting than it is
right now. When I was on Growing Pains I didn’t even want to be an actor. I was
14 years old doing something my mom thought was a good idea. By the time I was
18, I had become a Christian, met and married Chelsea, and God had begun taking
me on a journey I never could have imagined being so exciting.
tpe: Today you seem to pick projects that will be meaningful
CAMERON: After Growing Pains and another series called Kirk,
I started doing the Left Behind movies. Those allowed me to incorporate my
faith and craft into the same projects. While entertaining people, I was able
to teach them things about the Lord. I was able to do that again most recently
when I did the movie Fireproof [to be released Sept. 26], which was made by the
guys who made Facing the Giants.
tpe: Tell me about Fireproof.
CAMERON: The story is about a firefighter who is on the
brink of a divorce, gets right with God and tries to win his wife’s heart back.
But the movie is really about men taking the lead in restoring their marriages.
tpe: I’ve read that you won’t kiss any other woman than your
wife, but in the screening of Fireproof it appears that you kiss your onscreen
wife. What’s the deal?
CAMERON: My lips are reserved for Chelsea. We did some movie
magic on that scene. The woman I was kissing in that scene was Chelsea. She had
on the same dress as my on-screen wife, and she was wearing a wig. It was a
wonderful opportunity to make a movie, give it a romantic ending, and still
honor the real-life covenant relationship between husband and wife.
tpe: What has having six children taught you?
CAMERON: They have made me rethink my priorities. At the end
of my life I’m not going to say I wish I spent more time working. I will thank
God for every special moment I have had with my wife and kids.
tpe: If you could spend a few minutes with each of our
readers, what would you tell them?
CAMERON: We are all part of the ultimate statistic of death.
Ten out of 10 people will die. So everyone needs to consider, what are they
living their life for now and where will they spend eternity? If there is a
one-in-a-million chance that Jesus Christ has brought life and immortality through
the gospel, everyone owes it to their own good senses to at least check it out.
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