- Entertainment and Media
How Did Stephen Baldwin Become a Jesus Freak?
September 11, 2001 trade centers attacks spurred Stephen's decision
Hollywood was rocked when Stephen Baldwin, the youngest of the Baldwin brothers, made it public that he and his wife had committed their lives to Jesus Christ after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centers.
Before his conversion to evangelical Christianity, Stephen was a Hollywood actor known for such movies as The Usual Suspect, Biodome, and for playing Barney Rubble in The Flintstones.
Stephen gives his wife Kennya, whom he met on a bus in 1987 and married in 1990, the credit for the wonderful transformation that has transpired in their lives. Kennya is Brazilian and when they were expecting their first child, she announced that it was the custom in Brazil to hire a nanny for the children. They hired a nanny/housekeeper from Brazil, of course, and her name was Augusta.
They soon noticed that Augusta sang songs about Jesus constantly. Kennya asked her why she was always singing about Jesus. Augusta told them that the real reason she was working for them was that God sent her to tell them about Jesus. She told them she had even had a dream prior to coming to working with the Baldwins in which she saw Stephen, Kennya and their daughter. God revealed to her at that time that the Baldwin family would come to faith in Christ as a result of Augusta’s witness in their lives.
Kennya was soon bombarding Augusta with endless questions about the Bible. Kennya eventually went to a Brazilian church in New York City with Augusta and came home telling her husband that she had accepted Jesus Christ as Her Lord and Savior.
For the entire next year she proceeded to pray on her knees every morning for over an hour, and then read the Bible 30-40 minutes. Stephen just observed this behavior. He found the change in her inspiring. He said she became gentler and less judgmental. She never pushed it on Stephen.
Interesting side note about how Stephen met his wife:
He told Regis and Kathie Lee on their show a number of years ago that as he sat across from Kennya on the bus trying to figure out how to strike up a conversation with her, he finally came out with a corny comment that he was sure would meet with instant rejection. He was gleefully surprised when she answered him in a sweet and friendly manner. This gave him courage to pursue the relationship which he did.
A few weeks later, Kennya shared with him that she had actually noticed him on the bus a few weeks prior to their first encounter and had made a mental note that he was “cute.” She then confessed that the day they sat across from each other, she had actually remained on the bus five stops past her intended destination in hopes that he would speak to her! Isn’t that romantic?
Stephen didn’t take Christianity seriously until September 11, 2001. He sensed the attacks on the World Trade Centers were a foretoken of the end of the world: the book of Revelations in the Bible was coming true! The tragedy affected him profoundly and within one month he had committed his life to Christ and been baptized.
Before making a commitment to Christ, Stephen was a typical hard-partying, self-indulgent Hollywood pleasure seeker like his three older brothers.
Stephen published a book in 2007 about his life prior to and after finding faith entitled The Unusual Suspect (a take on his highly successful movie The Usual Suspect). Stephen told an interviewer that the book is “the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Stephen B.”
Stephen has made the first chapter of the book available at a website for the book: http://www.stephenbaldwin.com/book_read/page_2.htm
Stephen starts out the first chapter by stating that he did not come to Christ because his life was falling apart as is the case with many people who turn to Christ. His life was going great—he was rich, famous and had a beautiful wife. He traveled all over the world and had been invited to the greatest parties. His celebrity opened doors for him everywhere and with just about everyone. But deep down he knew it wasn’t real.
He’d been to four parties at the Playboy Mansion. But he said the first time he was there he felt an evil presence. He wasn’t near to making a decision for Christianity at that point but recognized the paganism and the exploitation of women. He looked around at all the drinking and smoking and flirting with the Playmates and said to himself, “This is all pretty meaningless. There has to be more to life than this.” He was happy, but he realized he needed a purpose.
Now, Stephen and Kennya have two teenage daughters, Alaia and Hailey. Stephen said they both also have strong faith in Christ. They have been home-schooled and/or attended Christian schools.
Stephen is very committed to bringing young people to faith in Christ. One of the ways he does this is by his involvement in an extreme sports skateboard ministry called “Livin’ It” which mixes skateboard exhibitions and contests with speakers with Bible messages. The youth are also given the opportunity to receive Christ during the events. As a result of his efforts, many churches have begun adding skateboard ministries to their outreach programs.
Stephen has gotten some bad press for his outspokenness about his faith. He acknowledges he came on too strong in the early years of his faith, but has recently “mellowed.” As a former contestant on “I’m a Celebrity” he admits talking to other housemates about the Bible but insists he did it with sensitivity and without coming on too strong.
One of the incidents in which Stephen made a stand for his faith happened in the town of Nyack, New York, where the Baldwins currently live. He came out in opposition to the opening of a proposed sex shop in the town. His publicity fired up the Catholic’s in the town to fight it. The shop was forced to close down after only four days of operation.
Recently, Stephen has experienced financial difficulties. In 2009, Stephen filed for bankruptcy after defaulting on his home mortgage in New York and on state and federal taxes apparently due to loss of employment as a result of his outspoken faith and unwillingness to take acting roles in movies with sex and violence.
Stephen's movies and videos
But God is clearly providing for Stephen. He is still making movies and appearing on TV. In early 2008, Stephen was a contestant on season 7 of Donald Trump’s Celebrity Apprentice in which he became known for his love/hate relationship with fellow contestant Piers Morgan. Stephen finished the show in fifth place out of 14. He and fellow contestant and believer Trace Adkins became friends while competing on the show.
In 2009, Stephen appeared as a contestant on the reality show “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me out of Here!” but quit the show towards the end. Before quitting, however, he baptized fellow contestant and actor Spencer Pratt. He was actually quite popular on the show and expected to win so it was quite a surprise when he left the show on day 22 out of 26.
Later it was revealed that he quit because of an allergic reaction to over 125 insect bites he received in the Costa Rica jungle in which the show took place. The show’s medical personnel discovered that the insects had implanted larvae underneath his skin which had to be cut out. Lou Diamond Phillips ended up winning.
In early 2010 when Stephen was invited to be on the Celebrity Big Brother show in the UK, he told them that he could not appear on the show if he was not allowed to bring his Bible. Normally reading materials are not allowed for participants, but Stephen was given permission. He was the first to enter the CBB house on January 3, 2010. The theme was Hell and the devil’s head was displayed on the front door. He taunted the head calling it a loser. He held Bible studies on the show and talked to most of the participants about God.
After the experience, Stephen said in an interview with Premier.tv that the Holy Spirit opened the opportunity to have Bible reading and he got to share his faith with housemates. After finishing the show he was told that as a result of his Bible reading and sharing on the show that all of London was talking about Christianity. Check out the following link to a video in which callers into a radio studio share the effect that Stephen’s Bible sharing on the show had on his UK audience: http://player.premier.tv/Premiertv.aspx?AssetId=02a6569f-cedf-40ea-a217-87fd5cca9cba. Stephen reveals how articulate he is in sharing his faith in this video.
Recent movies include Midnight Clear (2007), Fred Clause (2007), The Fly Boys (2008) –not to be confused with another movie of the same name about the Tuskegee airmen in WWI, and Sharks in Venice (2009).
Midnight Clear has two versions—a short version that came out in 2005 and a full length version in 2007. This movie is based on a book by Christian author Jerry Jenkins of Left Behind fame. It is Christmas movie about five sad and lonely strangers whose paths cross and shows how random acts of kindness can greatly impact the world. The movie was minimally promoted but highly rated by viewers.
Stephen has only a cameo appearance as himself in the Christmas flick Fred Clause, a movie about a black sheep brother of the famous jolly bearded man of Christmas fame.
The Fly Boys is based on a true story about two young boys who accidentally get stowed on an airplane owned by mobsters and end up having to land the plane on Highway 89 in Arizona. I could not find this movie but the trailer of it on the official website www.theflyboysmovie.com looked really intriguing. This web page also contains a real TV news coverage of the real event which happened in 2004.
The title of Sharks in Venice indicates what the movie is about—sharks in the canals of Venice. While a diving expert (Stephen) investigates the death of his father in Venice, his girlfriend is kidnapped by the mob.
Lately, Stephen’s career seems to be heading in the direction of directing faith-based films and videos. He is currently about to begin directing a $25 million budget movie about the life of a 19th century minister who converts steamboat-casinos into missionary ships. He has been quoted as saying the faith-based film industry is going to really take off in the next 10 years. He also just finished directing a video for Christian music artist Cory Lamb entitled “Break the Cycle.” The video has been available on You Tube since March 16, 2011.
In 2010, after the gulf coast oil spill, Stephen became involved in filming a documentary about the entire incident and the aftermath entitled The Will to Drill. At the same time, actor Kevin Costner was in the area presenting technology he and his scientist brother Dan developed that is able to separate the oil from the water. Stephen’s filming included capturing a successful test of Costner’s oil separating centrifuges in action.
Later in the year, he became embroiled in a lawsuit with Kevin Costner claiming Costner tricked him into selling his share of the technology before signing a lucrative deal for the use of it with BP oil company.
When asked about his relationship with older liberal brother Alec, Stephen said that despite their polar opposite political views they maintain a loving brotherly relationship. Earlier this year, January of 2011, Stephen instinctively came to the defense Alec when Sean Hannity of Fox News fame, made derogatory comments about Alec on his radio show. This prompted an angry response in turn from Hannity. A week later, Stephen apologized for the outburst.
Other recent projects Stephen is working on include an energy drink and comic books. He also currently has a weekly radio show with talk show host Kevin McCullough.
No one can deny that Stephen’s life story is amazing. As one interviewer put it, “The best script writer in Hollywood couldn’t have written a story as masterful as the one God wrote for Stephen Baldwin.”