An Unlikely Evangelist.
Actor Stephen Baldwin says he set new priorities after he gave his life to Christ in 2001. Amen Steve!
S tephen Baldwin takes a sip from his coffee, then leans forward and proclaims enthusiastically, “I’m at a very new and exciting turning point in my life.” The 37-year-old actor has just put in a day filming Livin’It, an extreme-sports video he is co-producing with Kevin Palau for PalauFest Productions to reach youth worldwide with the gospel.
Wearing camouflage pants, a T-shirt that proclaims “Army of the Lord,” and a baseball cap turned backward with “Jesus” embroidered on one side and “God is good” on the other, Baldwin doesn’t have to explain his enthusiasm for the Lord. He too is “Livin’ it.”
But his faith didn’t reach its current boiling point until more than 10 years after his Brazilian housekeeper first fanned a flame of interest in him. “I was working on the TV show Young Riders,” says Baldwin, who played Buffalo Bill Cody on the popular show about Pony Express riders. Baldwin and his Brazilian-born wife, Kennya, were then living in Tucson, Arizona, where the series was filmed.
“We had just had our first child, Alaia,” he says of his daughter, now 11 . The couple has a second daughter, Hailey , 7. “Kennya needed some all-round help, so we found this older gal—very sweet, very humble—to come and work for us. She was from Brazil, like my wife, and would sing in Portuguese. One word would always come shining through—Jesus.”
When asked about her motivation for singing, the housekeeper replied: “Your curiosity is very charming, but do you think that I’m here just to clean your house?” She told us that before she accepted the job she got a word of prophecy from someone in her church who said the family she worked for would come to know the Lord and have their own ministry,” Baldwin explains.
After the series ended, the Baldwins moved to New York, near where Stephen was born and they both were raised. Kennya originally came to New York with her family from Rio do Janeiro, Brazil, as a toddler. When she and Stephen returned, she found a charismatic Brazilian church in the city and became deeply involved in a Bible study there.
“My wife accepted the Lord and began praying for [me] intensely,” Baldwin says, a smile curling and his eyes lighting up. “I was curious, but I never thought I’d become as passionate as she was.”
Baldwin’s interest grew slowly, but mushroomed after the September 11 terrorist attacks. “The most curious thing happened,” he says of that day in 2001 . “It was one of the most absolutely spiritually awakening moments for me.
The couple started attending another church in upstate New York, closer to home. In March 2002, Stephen was baptized. “1 gave my life to the Lord,” he says of the commitment that had simmered since his introduction to “born again” life 10 years before. “Now I only allow myself to be guided by the Spirit of God in every aspect of my life.”
Baldwin, who has more than 65 films to his credit and numerous TV roles, began to envision a new future. “I began to question how big Christ was in the secular marketplace,” he says. “There’s not a lot of Christian content out there.”
For the next two years, he connected with many media moguls, asking such ques-tions as: “Why can’t a kid be channel-surfing on television and see a TobyMac video? Why isn’t there a 24-hour Christian music channel?”
With most of his questions unanswered, Baldwin became convinced his “legacy” was to start a company that allows youth to choose from among secular and Christian music, films, and other offerings.
His connection with PalauFest Productions, which followed a Palau festival in New York, kindled his interest even further. “lt was exactly what I was looking for,” he says. “ All of it is Christian, in a modern, sort of edgy way.”
With Livin’ It, Baldwin hopes to show today’s youth generation that “kids like them are doing exciting and fun things, only with the Spirit.”
“In the next decade, there will be an incredible movement of the Holy Spirit in the media” he predicts, a cause he is committed to spending his time and his money on. The center of his life today is his newfound, born-again faith and a personal walk with Christ that he shares with his wife of 14 years.
“That’s absolutely a miracle when you’re married to me,” he says jokingly. “Espec-ially when she really got my interest to fire up in the Lord . By example, her faith changed me and the Spirit did the rest”
Raised a Catholic, he hopes his “on fire” attitude will reach out to the rest of his family, including his three other acting brothers—Alec, Daniel and Billy. The actor doesn’t plan to leave out his friends, with whom he shares a few laughs when his time allows. But he does plan to say no to any future professional endeavors that aren’t of God’s leading.
“What’s going to happen in the world will happen in the world,” he says with conviction. “But what I can do in the world for the kingdom—that’s what I want to do.”
April 2004. (Pgs. 66-7)
Church of the Science of God
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