Conversions

An Interview with Catholic Evangelist Steve Ray

by Steve Ray on March 9, 2019

“My family and I have discovered that the Catholic Church is the best-kept secret in all of human history.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Catholic evangelist Steve Ray. Since I am a high school theology teacher, I have long been impressed with what Steve has done for the Church; for instance, I have shown some of his “Footprints of God” videos to my students, who are justifiably spellbound by the remarkable imagery of the Holy Land. Steve, a reliably entertaining and informative Catholic media personality also has a website, “Defenders of the Catholic Faith,” and he is active on Twitter. If you would like to learn more about why Steve Ray embraces the Catholic faith as a proud and fearless disciple of Jesus Christ, you can find his books on Amazon or at Ignatius Press. May you be inspired by Steve’s testimony here.

1) What initially drew you to the Catholic faith, and how has Catholicism enriched you and your family’s life since converting

Catholic  becoming2.jpgThat’s a big question. I was born and raised an Evangelical Protestant. My parents were inspired by Billy Graham, and I grew up in that warm environment. I considered myself a Bible teacher. I became Catholic not necessarily because I saw anything beautiful in the Catholic Church at first, but when I was 39, I began to see three problems with Protestantism: 1) What was worship? 2) What is the authority that binds Christians? (We thought this was the Bible alone, but that would never work.) 3) How many Churches did Jesus start? (There was only one, per Matthew 16:18 and John 17.) We spent a lot of time contemplating these questions. Then, a good friend of mine, Al Kresta, converted to Catholicism in 1993. Al and I have been best friends since 1983. We home-schooled our kids and studied the Bible together. My wife and I told him that was the stupidest thing we ever heard — why would someone become Catholic? We started studying the Church Fathers to prove Al wrong, but instead, the Church Fathers kept proving the Catholic Church right! A year later, we became Catholic.

2) As a high school theology teacher, I have enjoyed showing some of your “Footprints of God” DVDs to my students over the years. What is your favorite site to visit in the Holy Land, and why?

Oh, my goodness. Well, we’ve been to so many different places. The favorite place that I have visited is Iraq. That is where it all began, with Abraham, who had even worshiped pagan idols (see Joshua 24:2). It was exotic there, but even dangerous; when we were there, ISIS was beginning to come in. It’s hard to get there, and hard to get out, and very difficult to be there, but it was still my favorite.

3) You have written various books – which was your favorite to write, and why?

downloadThat’s like asking which of your four kids you like the best. I like each book, but for different reasons. The one that has had the greatest impact is our conversion story, Crossing the Tiber. That was my first, and probably most impactful, of the books. Twenty years later, I am still getting emails from people telling me that that book made them Catholic, and I get a sense of humble joy from that. It’s actually selling more now than when it was written!

4) Ignatius Press is in the midst of celebrating its 40th anniversary. What have been some of the joys that you have experienced working with Ignatius Press as your publisher over the decades?

They have been around for 40 years, and I have worked with them for 24 of those years. I would say their loyalty and top quality; everything is so thorough and meticulous, whether grammatically or theologically. They are a marvelous organization. They have really taken care of me and other authors, not only with books, but with DVDs and other media. They have given me free rein to make those movies, and God has a great sense of humor, in letting a former janitor do this, instead of somebody with a Ph.D.

5) If you were to meet someone who had never heard of Jesus, what would you say, in a paragraph or so, to convince him or her that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life (cf. John 14:6)?

Screen Shot 2019-03-02 at 5.26.55 PMI would start probably one step before that by telling the person that life demands an explanation: where did this come from? It wasn’t by chance; there had to be a designer. What kind of designer would this be? He would have to be perfect and loving. This God is so amazing that he came down and become one of us. He literally condescended; it’s the scandal of the Incarnation! The angels must have thought: what in the world is he doing? One should look at the big picture about why we are here, and it all points to Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of our redeeming God.

6) I always ask this of my interviewees: what is your favorite scriptural passage, and why?

One stands out, and it may be trivialized by sporting events and so forth, but it is John 3:16. That verse is a summary of the whole Scriptures, and of the heart and mind of God. That verse, in a few words, tells everything in a simple sentence. Everything is wrapped up in that one verse. I am proud to say that my mom gave me $0.50 for every verse that I memorized, and they are all in my mind today.

Family all7) Any parting wisdom for our readers?

My family and I have discovered that the Catholic Church is the best-kept secret in all of human history. We see the humanity of the Church, but it is also, of course, a divine institution. There is no better place to be than in the heart of the Catholic Church, even with everything going on and some people making a lot of mistakes. It is the place where I will live for the rest of my life. I also want to thank Ignatius Press for all they have done, especially through their orthodoxy. Ignatius Press tries new things, such as the use of technology with making my movies. I wish them a good 40th anniversary, and I am glad to have been a small part of it.

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Catholic World Report Interview:

Visit a street fair in San Francisco’s Castro district and you’re likely to meet Joseph Sciambra, 45, wearing a “Jesus loves you” t-shirt and handing out copies of his book,Swallowed by Satan. It tells the story of how, as a boy growing up in a lax Catholic family in Napa, California, he became addicted to pornography.

Sexually confused at age 18, Sciambra made his way to the Castro, a “gay mecca,” and immersed himself in the gay lifestyle for 11 years. He lived it to the extreme, even acting in gay porn. But rather than the happiness, acceptance, and fulfillment he sought, he found a life of misery.

With the help of Courage, the Catholic Church’s ministry to people with same-sex attraction, Sciambra embraced chastity and returned to the practice of the Catholic faith. Today, he makes a modest living running a Catholic bookstore in Napa, and devotes himself to a personal apostolate helping those in the gay lifestyle, “to offer them the hope that there is life after being gay,” he says. Sciambra also blogs regularly and shares his story in both the Catholic and secular media.

He recently spoke with CWR.

CWR: Some people argue that pornography does no harm to the viewer or to society. You believe instead that it was a factor that led you into a self-destructive gay lifestyle…

For the whole article, click here.

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This new convert sent me a nice e-mail thanking me. I asked if I could share it on my blog. He agreed but asked to remain anonymous and I agreed. He said, “I converted because I lost all the discussions I had with a Catholic workmate – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. One problem – my Protestant relatives. How do I explain going Papist to them? I ended up sending this email (in which I site you as one of the reasons I went to the dark side, hence, this email to you.”

So, here goes the e-mail:

And now… for something completely different.

  Funny you should mention ‘bars’ in your email and ask if I had any, because I have a doozy. You might want to get yourself a cup of tea for this one.

  In my readings and such it became apparent to me in the spring, (probably just after I last wrote to you), that to study Scripture on my own was ok, but that I needed to belong to a fellowship of believers – a denomination of some kind. I can’t remember how I came to this conclusion, but it made sense and I thought it was a good idea. So off I went.

  The first thing I found was that I had 33,000 choices! I thought it was a misprint, but no – there are an estimated thirty-three thousand Christian denominations. I’m sure some of those are quasi-Christian cults like the Mormons and the JW’s, (and their many offshoots), but still, that’s a lot to choose from.

Another thing is that there would have to be a church in Edmonton, which I figured wouldn’t be too much of a problem because a city of a million people should contain most of the usual mainline denominations. (If Jim Bob’s Church of Jesus Christ in Monroe, Alabama is the true Church of Christ, then we’re all out of luck!)

  So I began reading the small print to this or that church. There were, (for the most part), many points I could agree with, but invariably there was a ‘poison pill’ in there somewhere. Maybe they didn’t have an Ellen White or Joseph Smith, but I would for sure come across a doctrine that I could not stomach. (Gay ‘marriage’ is one of them, which for me wipes out most Canadian churches, including the one I was baptized in – the Anglican.)

  My evangelical workmate filled me in on his Church, where the Holy Spirit is alive and everyone is jumping all over the place. I listened, but in the end that’s not my idea of worship. (For me, Jesus is God – not my fishing buddy.) (My opinion, of course!!) I thanked him for the invite and continued on.

  My journey was good fun – I was learning about different denominations and what they believed, but at the same time I was also coming to grips with the fact that you can justify almost anything, (morally or theologically), and still consider yourself a ‘Christian.’

  Another thing that was starting to gnaw at me was, (for the lack of a better word), truth. Christ is the Truth. But does any one of the 33,000 have a complete handle on His teachings? Are they all, (at least in some part), right? Are they all, (at least in some part), wrong? I wanted one that taught the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – but I was beginning to think that the best place for that might be back in my living room.

  And that’s another thing that bothered me. I might debate myself on the way home from work, (or brushing my teeth), but in the end I usually agree with myself. Myself and I perfect for each other. And that’s what I saw in all these denominations – parishioners staying in a particular denomination until they hear something they don’t like, and then off they go across the street to another denomination.

Then they’re happy, until they hear something they don’t agree with. Then off they go. Again and again and again. I’ve even read of new preachers coming into a church and teaching doctrines that completely contradicted the views of the previous ministers. So if you don’t agree with the teachings, sometimes you don’t have to go across the street – you can just replace the minister. None of this made sense to me.

  I was getting so exasperated that one time at coffee I said to my other workmate, (Simon the RC), “I’d even consider your church just because of its stance on moral issues.” As soon as I said it I couldn’t believe I said it, but, (what the heck), I thought it would be fun to dig up one of the many ‘poison pills’ that church had to offer. I couldn’t wait to get home.

  But instead of going to one of my websites, I wanted to find a Catholic one and use fodder from that to skewer my workmate – who I like a lot, but, well… business is business.   

  It didn’t take long to find a site called ‘catholic bridge.’ The guy who runs it is a Canadian, so I figured at least I’d have that in common with him. He’s a lay person who is a convert and wants to explain Catholicism to people who are interested – and from what I could tell, that usually meant hostile Protestants!

  It was laid out really well, with all the good, juicy subjects there for the picking – so many, in fact, that I ignored Mary and jumped on a somewhat obscure one – Replacement Theology.

  Unfortunately, Sue, I was surprised to find that I sort of, somewhat, kind of, didn’t totally disagree with what the guy wrote. So I picked another, with the same result. Then another. For the rest of the evening, I may not have totally agreed with what I was reading on subject after subject, but once I was filled in on what they actually believe and practice, (as opposed to what I had always assumed they believed and practiced), I had to admit that there would be no poison pill that night.

  Sue, I think you can see where this is going. I’ll skip all the lectures, debates and shows that I’ve watched, the articles I’ve read, and the all the discussions I’ve had with my two workmates over the spring and summer. Try as I might, (and as crazy as this sounds), not only could I not find my poison pill, but I was beginning to see how the whole thing fit together – and it fit together beautifully.

So, (after much contemplation and prayer), I have decided to become Catholic.

Sister? You ok? Have a sip of tea. I can explain.

  I can explain – but I won’t be discussing any points of theology, as that can be done by simply visiting the website I mentioned earlier, (catholic bridge), or a much better one, Catholic Answers. An explanation of doctrine can be done by them.

  There are two people in particular who were very influential in my decision – Dr. Scott Hahn, (former Presbyterian), and Steve Ray, (former evangelical.) Their stuff is all over the Internet, and if you want an insight into why I’ve gone this route, their testimonies, lectures, debates and interviews would go a long way in shedding light on my decision.

   Also, The Journey Home, (YouTube), also played a large part. Converts discuss how they made their way to the Church, from atheism, Islam, evangelical Protestantism – you name it. You won’t agree with their final destination, but at least you’d understand how they got there.

  How I got there mirrors many of the guests on that show. Something makes them curious, so they ask questions. They get answers that make sense, so they ask more questions, get more answers, and finally they read the Early Church Fathers. Then they join the Church. That seems to be the pattern.

  I found the most interesting shows to be the ones that involved evangelical missionaries or pastors, because of their theological training, and deep, deep distrust, (or outright hostility), to Catholicism. And then to watch their antipathy vanish into the air was fascinating stuff.

   Sister, I simply wanted to find the path, (no matter how roundabout), that was best for me, regardless of the outcome. And believe me, (like guests on the Journey Home), this is the last place I thought I’d end up.

Best wishes to all and God Bless,

New Convert  :-) happy

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Julie’s Story: From Episcopal to Baptist to Anglican to Catholic

December 22, 2018

At the age of three in 1974, our family moved to Austin, TX. The first thing my parents did was join a wonderful Episcopal Church in which I spent my entire childhood. My parents were diligent about bringing me to church every Sunday and making sure I “robed” as an altar server/acolyte. My mother grew […]

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White Supremacy, Black Power, to Islam, then the Road to Damascus: My Journey into the Fullness of the Christian Faith

October 31, 2018

Follow Dustin through the phases of his life including Islam until he finally discovered the Catholic Church. Maybe you’re like me (aside from being born with Cerebral Palsy and defying doctors’ pronouncements, by the grace of God, that I would be confined to a wheelchair and relegated to a vegetative state). Maybe you grew up […]

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Robin’s Story: Boring Catholic, to Protestant and Back to Exciting Catholic

October 10, 2018

Robin writes: I wanted to begin this blog with my conversion story. For some of you, you may stop reading here but I encourage you to continue. This is my second pilgrimage with Steve Ray and his wife Janet. I choose to travel with him because I would not be a Catholic today if it […]

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Triumph & Tragedy: Jimmy Akins Conversion Story and Loss of his Wife

September 17, 2018

 Many people know Jimmy Akin. I call him my friend and have great admiration for this friend. He is also a Square Dancer. But do you know his story? Get a cup of coffee, turn off the TV and settle in for a great story. Not just gut-wrenching and edifying, but also an Introductory Course […]

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Steve Ray interviewed “Why These Catholic Converts Remain”

September 14, 2018

Leaving the Church in ‘protest’ against perceived problems isn’t a Catholic option, former Protestants explain. Interview with Judy Roberts CULTURE OF LIFE |  JAN. 7, 2018 “For Lannette Turicchi, changing churches because of a scandal or the way the pastor interpreted the Bible was part of being a Protestant. But now that she has professed faith in […]

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My First of Eight Appearances on The Journey Home

September 7, 2018

Seems like a long time ago, but also seems like yesterday. It is one of the few times you will ever see me in a suit and tie :-)  It was a great joy to share with Marcus Grodi and his audience why I switched from Baptist to Catholic. This episode was televised on November […]

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“An Interview with Catholic Apologist Steve Ray”

August 29, 2018

An Interview with Catholic Evangelist Steve Ray Posted by Justin McClain on Thursday Aug 23rd, 2018 at 3:31 PM “My family and I have discovered that the Catholic Church is the best-kept secret in all of human history.” I recently had the opportunity to speak with Catholic evangelist Steve Ray. Since I am a high school […]

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Steve Shares a 9-minute Story of his Early Life and Conversion

August 19, 2018

While at Steubenville two weeks ago, the Coming Home Network and The Journey Home asked me to share stories of my conversion not heard before. Hope you enjoy it.

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Islamic Convert to the Catholic Faith on Journey Home

June 30, 2018

Derya Little grew up in a culturally Muslim household in Turkey, but when her parents divorced, it caused her to question everything, including the tenets of Islam. Studying it critically for herself, she was put off by its treatment of women, its chaotic history, and the master/slave relationship between Allah and his followers. She rejected […]

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Love these kind of e-mails: Back to the Catholic Church

June 26, 2018

Revisiting a nice note received from England: Thank you, Steve. My sister-in-law was Catholic and she turned away to be a new-born Christian [Fundamentalist Protestant]. A lot of these people got round her and constantly told her she was going to hell unless she gets born again and she then tried to convert me and […]

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This Convert Enticed Me to Convert – Dr. Thomas Howard

April 4, 2018

Dr  Thomas Howard’s book Evangelical is Not Enough really started our conversion process. Janet read it and wouldn’d Stop talking about it. I was listening to his story on cassette tape the day I said fortuitously “I am a Catholic” with tears in my eyes. With more tears in eyes I met Dr. Howard and […]

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Patrick Coffin Interviews Lizzie Reezay about her Conversion

March 27, 2018

Watch the new video of Patrick Coffin interviewing YouTube star Lizzie about her conversion to the Catholic Church HERE. To see my book Upon this Rock which helped Lizzie click HERE.

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Billy Graham’s Early Influence on My Life & an Excellent Recent Talk by Rev. Billy Graham

February 21, 2018

I have a soft spot in my heart for this man because he has had a PROFOUND impact on our family. It was his message over the airwaves in 1953 that first brought my mom to Christ and my mom and dad then brought us boys to a living and vibrant knowledge of Jesus Christ.  […]

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