Stephen Baldwin: Surprising, Sold-Out and Totally "Unusual"
- Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Stephen Baldwin is one of the last people you’d expect to find doing ministry.
“I didn’t want the word getting out there that Stephen Baldwin was in fulltime ministry,” says the 39-year-old actor, who sent shock waves through Hollywood three years ago when he became a born-again Christian. “In Hollywood, that’s career suicide.”
Yet that’s exactly what Baldwin is doing. Just don’t expect to see him sporting a clergy robe.
Best known for his role as a career criminal in the critically-acclaimed 1995 film, “The Usual Suspects” – and more recently, for appearances on “Celebrity Mole” and “Fear Factor” – Baldwin had a reputation as a serious party boy. A native of Massapequa, Long Island, New York, he began singing opera as a teen and attended the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Like his four older brothers (Alec, William and Stephen), he then shifted into film, eventually making more than 60 movies.
But the temptations of Hollywood didn’t elude the actor, who has publicly confessed to past drinking and drug use. Even marriage (to wife, Kennya, since 1990) and children (two daughters, ages 12 and 9) didn’t deter Baldwin from the dark side. But after his non-English speaking, Brazilian housekeeper shared her faith – and a prophecy that the couple would both come to Christ, then become involved in fulltime ministry – first Kennya got saved, then Baldwin.
Now, against all odds, Baldwin is fulfilling the second half of that prophecy.
He’s touring with The Luis Palau Association and sharing his testimony with teens through extreme skateboarding, which the evangelical organization features as part of six gigantic music festivals held throughout the country each year. As part of the outreach, skaters and BMX bikers catch air atop 10,000 square-foot skate parks, then share their faith with captivated audiences.
Last year, Baldwin and Palau also co-produced an award-winning documentary called “Livin’ It,” which features some of those same skateboarders and bikers. Now, Baldwin is producing and appearing in a one-hour television special called “Livin’ It: Unusual Suspects,” which airs throughout the month of December on iTV (PAX). The show reveals how he, GRAMMY-nominee Chynna Phillips and Christian Hosoi, the '80s skateboarding idol who was recently released from prison, all came to faith.
I spoke with Baldwin about his coming to Christ, why he spoke at the 2004 Republican National Convention and what it means to be culturally relevant.
Annabelle Robertson: What made you want to do “Unusual Suspects?”
Stephen Baldwin: It’s a look at the lives of four individuals, in a “20/20” or “60 Minutes” kind of format. The goal was to show people how faith and God have impacted these four people – the last people that you’d expect God to use. Another goal is to be as culturally relevant as possible. Now that’s a really cute catchphrase right now, so I want to be specific. Utilizing extreme sports, having a tour and raising up really young, hungry, radical evangelists is the premier industry in America that is having a cultural impact. It’s our attempt at being innovative, in regard to how we reach the culture about God and faith.
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