Evangelism Interview with Tony Ramsek: Profile

This is part of a series of interviews of Christians experienced in evangelism. I hope this is an encouragement to others and spurs on more ideas and action in individuals and churches engaged in the Great Commission.

Me: This is Jon Neifert and I’m talking today with Tony Ramsek, the founder of an outreach ministry called What Does the Scripture Say.  Tony, why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background with evangelism.

Tony: Sure. By God’s grace I came to know the Lord when I was about 25 years old. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, my mom was Catholic and my dad was mildly Buddhist. I considered myself a Christian like most Catholics, but when it came down to it, I was trusting in my good works, plus a little bit of Jesus.  My wife and I met when we were 13 and we’ve been together as a couple since we were 15. The first 10 years for both of us was as unbelievers. So really the hand of God was on our lives.  We went to the same high school, we went to the same college, we started living together, as you do in the world, and after college moved to Portland, Oregon and bought a house together and not married.

My best friend from high school had moved up to Portland a year or two earlier. We wanted to get out of California because even as unbelievers, we just did not want to raise children in California. We went out to Portland and by God’s grace, just one day I turned to Christy and I said, “you know what, we should go to church.” Just out of the blue and by the Spirit’s leading. She said, “Okay, yeah,” and so we went to one church and it wasn’t great. I felt like they were just asking for money or whatever.  We said, “forget that.” Sometime later I turned to her, again by the grace of God, and said, “you know, we should go to church again.” We didn’t know where to go, so we literally went to the closest church building to our house. We didn’t know anything. Again, by the grace of God, it turned out to be a Bible believing, gospel preaching, expository verse by verse preaching church.  We walked out, I don’t remember the sermon, but I do remember walking out to the parking lot afterwards and turning to Christie and saying, “that was convicting.” Then by the power of the Spirit I said, “that’s where we need to be.”  And we just started going. Now, we didn’t go absolutely regularly, we went off and on. Some days, we’d be driving to church on Sunday and we’d ask, “You want to go to church?” me, “No, let’s just go to the beach.” And we would just turn around.  Eventually we kept on going and I started reading the New Testament, for the first time! I never read it when I was a kid, so as an adult I had adult faculties. I remember reading the New Testament for the first time and I was believing it.

Me: How old were you then?

Tony: About 24 or 25. I got to first Peter and I remember it saying in the beginning that God has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  It just struck me because I thought to myself, “I believe that, I actually believe that.” It was more of an after the fact I believe. It wasn’t like I commit to believe, but more like I do believe. It was just different.

Out of all the different means and factors and elements that God used in my life, it was literally reading His Word directly that had the most impact on my salvation.

But friends and preaching and books were good influences too.  So immediately as a new Christian, I didn’t know any different and I just started telling people about Jesus. And my Christian friends, I only had a couple, were blown away. They said, “Hey, you keep talking to people about Jesus and maybe you’re going to be an evangelist.” I was like, “Hey, I don’t even know what that is. I’m just talking to people about God.” I do remember that very early on, I wanted to serve the Lord full time in ministry. I was super materialistic when I was an unbeliever. I wanted the big money, the big car, and house and all that.  But when God saved me he took all that away. Now he didn’t take all my vices away immediately, but that one I can honestly say he took that one away and that was a huge vice. It was a huge problem and he just took that away just lickety split. I thought, I don’t care about money anymore, I have real purpose, eternal purpose in my life.

I want to serve God and I don’t care if I’m going to make half as much from whatever I was making. So I started looking for a ministry that I could serve the Lord in. As a new Christian God opened up a position with Focus on the Family. We went down, took the position, and started looking for a church. We found an Evangelical Free Church, expository verse by verse through the books of the Bible. I remember there was an evangelism class and I signed up for that. I wanted to learn how to share my faith. I remember the leader, a gentlemen, as we got into it the first or second week we were actually going to go out door to door. He said, “Tony, I want you to be one of the leaders.” I was like, “Be one of the leaders? I’ve never done this before.” Somehow, he could tell that God had placed this gifting in me to really be on fire for sharing the gospel. I apprehensively replied, “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ve never done it, but I’ll do it.” We went through Bill Faye’s Share Jesus Without Fear program. It’s a Southern Baptists program, it was good especially for the opening questions. I remember talking with a big-wig at Focus on the Family about just sharing the gospel. He looked at me and he said, “You might have the gift of evangelism.” I had learned what Bill Bright said, “If you share Jesus with as many people as I do, you know, sooner or later you’re going to see people come to know the Lord.” Whether that’s the gift or not is up to God.

Me: Right. The gift or the responsibility.

Tony: I was only at Focus on the Family for less than two years. One of the reasons I left was because I recognized what their foundation or approach to scripture was. They didn’t really see the sufficiency of scripture, they gave good lip service to it but when it came down to it, their approach was to use the Bible and humanistic psychology. The second major reason I left is because they were not evangelistic enough in my opinion. Their mission statement, which I had memorized at the time, was something like “To disseminate the gospel of Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit to as many people as possible and to do that through family issues.”  I thought to myself, that the first part sounds a lot like the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. But if you look at the output of the ministry it was a ton of marriage, parenting, and family stuff. The name of the ministry was realistic Focus on the Family, but I didn’t really like that because I’d rather it be focused on the Lord, on Christ. I came to Answers in Genesis, not a primarily evangelistic ministry as such but they had this one evangelistic outreach every year and it was a big one. It’s was to the NEA, the National Education Association, the public school teachers’ union.  Somehow, I just hit it off with the co-worker that was heading that up. I guess the Lord leads people to see certain things and he saw the zeal I had for evangelism. That coworker approached me and asked, “You’re really into this stuff, you’re sharing the gospel with unbelievers. Do you want to come with me to the NEA?” I was excited, my first year with AIG, and within a few months and I’m out on the road. I’m a computer guy and yet they brought me out onto the road. We went to the NEA in Chicago, and it was a blast, I absolutely loved it. It was a pretty hostile environment. It was more hostile than what you saw in Minneapolis, Jon. We’ve been there 20 years now. The first 10 years people would be screaming at you, they would be calling you names, flipping you the bird, all kinds of stuff.

Me: Sounds a lot like street ministry these days.

Tony: That co-worker who was in charge of that outreach left the ministry after a couple years but he had literally trained me to take over. Now, by God’s grace, I’ve been doing that for 20 years. About five years ago the Lord dropped into Answers in Genesis lap the Iowa State Fair as a gospel outreach. Praise God! Ken Ham was contacted by one of our supporters, Roger. I happened be in a meeting with Ken Ham when he got the mail from Roger and he called me over while other people were talking. He showed me the email and he said, “Can you can you take care of this for me?” It was about the Iowa State Fair. I looked at him and said, “Absolutely. This is what I do. I do gospel booths at fairs. This is absolutely perfect.” He just let me run with it. For the last five years, we’ve held a gospel booth outreach at the Iowa State Fair. By God’s grace I had met Grace Mally through the NEA outreach earlier. She was writing her book back in 2010 and she asked if she could come to the NEA with me and AIG. I agreed, and we struck up a friendship and sort of a mentorship.  She lives in Iowa and she and I started collaborating. We thought, this is incredible that God dropped the Iowa State Fair in our laps.  We were brainstorming about what we could do, how can we make this what God wants it to be? The idea came to us, “Why don’t we do a witnessing training camp, where we can have teaching sessions in the morning and then in the afternoons and evenings we go out to the State Fair and put it into practice.” By God’s grace, the Mally’s ministry has basically done that and I’ve been teaching through that for the last four years.

Just on the side for a long time, maybe 15-20 years, we’ve been doing gospel booths at local flea markets, local county fairs, and local festivals. I’ve come to be a big believer in this particular outreach of using the gospel booth to really engage people. I found it to be very helpful. I do street ministry too, I’ve stood up on street corners and handed out gospel tracts and talked to people. But I find that the gospel booth, there’s some advantages there.

That’s my history. Just this year, during COVID, the Lord finally pushed me enough. He’s been pushing me, but I’ve been resisting, and finally it was enough where I said, “Okay, I’ll start up this outreach ministry, this nonprofit What Does the Scripture Say.” We’re seeing how the Lord is going to bless that, but my desire for this ministry is in the motto or slogan, it is my life. My life goal is to exalt Christ, edify the saints, and evangelize the lost. That’s what I’m all about.

Part 2: Booth Ministry
Part 3: Apologetics
Part 4: Using Doctrines
Part 5: Handling Conversations
Part 6: Resources

Author: Jon Neifert and Tony Ramsek
Posted on October 12 2020